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[Interview] Still Here: Nick Diaz talks fighting (or not) in 2014

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The more things change, the more they stay the same.

2013 was important year for the UFC. Not only was there an excessive amount of historic fights, but there was also an abnormal number of champions fading out of the spotlight.

Georges St-Pierre quasi-retired, Anderson Silva broke his leg, Cain Velasquez is injured, Anthony Pettis is injured, and the list continues.

One fighter who is available to fight, however, is one man who doesn’t necessarily want to -- especially for anything less than UFC gold.

“What, am I gonna help somebody out and bring them to my level,” said UFC welterweight Nick Diaz to Examiner.com when questioned about perhaps fighting an up-and-comer in the company, rather than a champion.

“I already did those fights. I’ve already been through all that and you still ain’t seen me take an ass whoopin’.

The oft-elusive 30-year-old was in attendance for this weekend’s UFC 170 in Las Vegas, and held a brief media session with the press backstage inside the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino.

The mysterious son of Stockton, Calif., hasn’t been seen in the Octagon since stepping away from the sport after a loss to Georges St-Pierre at UFC 158 in March 2013. However, despite losing the fight via unanimous decision, Diaz still walked away with his reputation intact. And the fact that PPV was rumored to do around one million pay-per-view buys (a number that hasn’t been reached since), proves that in the ever-changing landscape of the UFC, Diaz is a top draw.

If not the biggest.

“Now we’re talking. Now we’re talking,” said Diaz when asked if he may perhaps be the company’s biggest star. “I may not be on the front cover of magazines, or like, advertisements – a little money here, a little money there, a little signing. No one called me for this or that. But that’s still the bottom line – still realistic.”

“Bottom line, I’m the only draw out here. Bottom line. What’d we [UFC 158] sell? Like, the third biggest [pay-per-view] of all-time? That wasn’t just Georges. And these guys aren’t doing that. They aren’t doing that.”

Diaz insists that whether win or lose fans are still going to pay. They’re going to pay to see him win, and they’ll surely pay to see him lose. In fact, he’s banking on it.

“The fans aren’t satisfied until they see someone take an ass whopping,” said the UFC veteran. “So, as far as I’m concerned, we’re not taking care of the fans until we see somebody take an ass whooping – we all know that’s what everybody wants to see.”

Diaz goes on to praise an old acquaintance in Robbie Lawler. A man Diaz once knocked out. And a man that he claims he was ‘really happy’ for when Lawler earned a title shot against Johny Hendricks this March. For Diaz, there are plenty of intriguing match-ups for him in 2014, but he’s taking a wait-and-see approach. If a rematch with Lawler were to take place, cool. If Hendricks were to win, cool. But as he reiterates, he’s not interested in anything less than the top-tier fighters in the UFC – big money fights. Heck, he’d even take a boxing match with Roy Jones Jr. – something Diaz says the UFC came to him with, and he was open to the idea.

To all the Diaz detractors, and people who say he’s ducking fighters, or particular fights, he is quick to snap back. Simply put, this is the prize fighting business, and Diaz is concerned with the prize more so than the fighting. As he said, he’s already taken the ‘warm-up’ fights. Now it’s time to do what’s right for Nick Diaz and his career.

““I’m in good shape. You know, they [UFC] come to me, and they say I turned down a fight,” explains Diaz. “Yo, I’m like, ‘we weren’t talking about money. We weren’t talking about what this was gonna do for me. We weren’t talking co-main event.’”

He carries off into a prototypical Nick Diaz diatribe about what the company needs to do for him, and what he’s done for the company. He’s undoubtedly a character unto himself. He’s as unique and as unpredictable as the sport of MMA. And as tumultuous as the sport’s history has been these past 20 years, Diaz’s story is a mirror of sorts. Whether he fights in 2014 is entirely up to him. It’s hard to say that Nick Diaz truly deserving of a title shot after coming off back-to-back losses. However, if any fighter has piqued the interest of MMA fans more than Nick Diaz over the last decade, I’d love to see ‘em. Because if they were here, chances are they aren’t anymore.

And Nick Diaz most certainly is. Now, if we can just get him an opponent everyone can agree on. That will be the true challenge.

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Listen to National MMA Examiner Ryan McKinnell's weekly podcast with Danny Acosta (USA Today Sports, Sirius Satellite Radio), Majority Draw Radio: The Precision of Indecision

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