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Monday, 06 February 2012 21:21

UFC Star Nick Diaz Retires from MMA, Will He Box?

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Photo by Dave Mandel and Courtesy of Sherdog.com Photo by Dave Mandel and Courtesy of Sherdog.com

On Saturday, Nick Diaz (26-8 MMA, 7-5 UFC) lost his bid to become UFC's interim welterweight champion as Carlos Condit kicked and countered his way to a scrappy, unanimous decision win at UFC 143.

Not only did Nick Diaz lose the bout, he derailed any chance of an immediate mega showdown with the popular Georges St. Pierre - One of UFC's top pound-for-pound fighters and perhaps one of the best MMA fighters ever.

The 29 year old Diaz was supposed to fight St. Pierre in UFC 137 last October but was pulled from the main event last fall for allegedly failing to cooperate with UFC pre-fight promotion policies. After St. Pierre was forced to withdraw due to injury, Diaz faced UFC legend B.J. Penn in the main event of UFC 137 and cruised to an impressive unanimous decision win.

Following his win over Penn, Diaz and St. Pierre were supposed to settle matters at UFC 143 on Saturday but St. Pierre suffered an ACL injury in December leaving Diaz to face Condit instead.

At the post-fight press conference Saturday night, Diaz, unhappy with the decision and his purse, announced his retirement.

"I'm not going to accept this as a loss," Nick Diaz said. "I think I'm done with this MMA stuff, I don't think they can pay me enough to do this again."

Nick Diaz's purse for Saturday's UFC 143 bout was reported at $200,000 USD.

Pictured: Nick Diaz, right, sets up K.J. Koons
Photo by Dave Mandel and Courtesy of Sherdog


Diaz Challenges Vargas and Lacy
A year ago, prior to joining UFC, Nick actively sought bouts with boxing's former Jr. Middleweight superstar Fernando Vargas (26-5, 22 KO) and former Super Middleweight Champion Jeff Lacy (25-4, 17 KO) but bouts with neither man materialized. Of note, its questionable whether any state commission would have allowed an MMA champion with only one pro boxing fight to compete against former world champion boxers, even if those boxers were past their respective primes and coming off consecutive losses and long layoffs.

With the boxing and MMA worlds buzzing about Nick Diaz's possible foray into boxing, it was even rumoured boxing promoter Lou DiBella offered his top fighter, Ring Magazine Middleweight champion and pound-for-pound star Sergio Martinez (then 46-2-2, 25 KO), in an attempt to accommodate Diaz's desire to fight a 'name' boxer. That, of course, (if true) never had legs as its doubtful any state commission in America would certify such an obvious mis-match.

UFC Signs Diaz
Perhaps feeling a sense of urgency to keep the controversial but uniquely-talented Diaz in MMA, UFC President Dana White lured Diaz from Strikeforce back to UFC, inking the MMA star to a four-fight deal in July 2011. But unfortunately for Nick Diaz, Dana White had no intention of allowing Diaz to box professionally while competing under the UFC banner.

Diaz, who often complained about the smaller purses for elite MMA fighters versus elite boxers, took the bait - and for good reason. His fight with St. Pierre was to be one of the most anticipated fights in MMA history.

But when asked if he regretted re-signing with UFC, Diaz told  USA Today last year:

"If I had my chance to do it over again, I would have gone back to the boxing contract," Diaz said. "It would have paid me more money ... Later on, I'm sure they would have had me back here.... "I would have made plenty of money in boxing and would have made plenty of money later coming back" to MMA, Diaz said. "It definitely would have worked out if I had done what I set out to do and just gone to pro boxing for awhile."

Nick Diaz - A Pro Boxer?
Diaz is no stranger to the Sweet Science. He won his first and only boxing match via a four round unanimous decision in 2005.  And fighting in a southpaw stance, Diaz was arguably the best punch-striker in UFC. Nick's ability to accurately throw punches in bunches and use his long right jab to keep opponents at a safe distance allowed him to take advantage of ill-prepared, ground-focused foes.

Pictured: Nick Diaz, right, taunts K.J. Koons
Photo by Dave Mandel and Courtesy of Sherdog

Although Diaz's pugilistic pedigree is limited, his boxing skills far surpass those of most elite-level UFC pros and helped transform him into an MMA world champion and, until Saturday, a top 5 UFC pound-for-pound fighter. And unlike most boxing novices, Diaz has had the opportunity to train, spar with and learn from Andre Ward (25-0, 13 KO) - a 2004 Olympic gold medalist, the current WBA/WBC Super Middleweight Champion and one of boxing's top 10 fighters pound-for-pound.  

In May, Andre Ward, the winner of Ring's prestigious 'Fighter of the Year' honor for 2011, told ESPN:

"I appreciate and admire [Diaz's] courage. It remains to be seen how well he'll do (as a boxer), though.... "Nick has good hands, some of the best hands in MMA. But professional boxing is totally different. Totally different."

Despite Ward's somewhat less-than-flattering assessment of Nick Diaz as a professional boxer, MMA legend BJ Penn referred to Diaz as the best boxer in MMA. 

Floyd Mayweather Sr Interested?
Earlier today, FightSaga spoke with elite fight trainer Floyd Mayweather Sr to discuss the likelihood of success for Nick Diaz as a top-tier boxer. Floyd Sr said he'd heard a lot of good things about Diaz and would be interested in evaluating Diaz's boxing skills and overall athletic ability. The senior Mayweather stopped well-short of making any predictions but told FightSaga he'd be very interested in training the now-former UFC star if he was given the opportunity to evaluate Diaz and liked what he saw.

Given his popularity, Nick Diaz would earn far more than the typical 1-0 boxer but it remains to be seen if he can generate purses comparable to star boxers or even come close to what he was receiving from UFC. 

Some would argue if Julio Cesar Chavez Jr can become a world champion after less than eight years as a pro then Nick Diaz, who is more experienced now than Chavez was in his pro debut, can certainly do the same. And given that many of today's top boxers are in their mid 30s or older, a successful transition to boxing wouldn't be out of the realm of possibility for the 29 year old, who would likely compete as a super middleweight or light heavyweight.

(Nick Diaz, although retired, still has two fights left on his UFC contract so his obligations to UFC - as they relate to a possible career in boxing - are not yet known)

Main Photo Courtesy of Sherdog 

Leroy Cleveland

Lee is Managing Editor of FightSaga.com, a student of the Sweet Science and longtime boxing fan.



{youtube}maU1YOumYXs{/youtube} Andre Ward on sparring UFC stars Nate and Nick Diaz