If we learned anything about Nick Diaz from the epic oratory performance he put on at UFC 158, it’s that he’s not going to lie to us.
Diaz can be called a lot of things, but "liar" certainly isn’t one of them. If anything, the American ambassador to the 209 was painstakingly honest last week before, during and after his lopsided loss to Georges St-Pierre on Saturday night.
As things progressed he was lobbed numerous queries -- about steroids or marijuana or whether he thought the UFC wanted him to lose -- which probably would’ve best been handled with a simple “no comment.” Diaz, the guy who theoretically hates doing media so much he sometimes doesn’t bother to show up, never once demurred. By the end, one thing was clear: Ask him a question and you will absolutely not get a straight answer, but the extended jumble-jamble of words that tumble out of his mouth won’t be sugarcoated or politically correct or -- for that matter -- filtered in any way.
So, if the question we’re asking ourselves on Monday morning is whether to believe Diaz when he tells us he’s retired from MMA, the simple answer is “yes." Yes, we can believe he was telling us the truth about that ... at the very moment the words left his lips.
Thing is, Diaz has a more complicated relationship with the truth than most people. He’s what literature buffs might call an unreliable narrator. That is, a guy who can’t be trusted to see the world the same way the rest of us do.
Keep in mind that this is a fighter who on Saturday night announced his retirement for the second time amid a fairly rambling response that also intimated he thinks the rules of MMA are set up for him to fail and stopped just barely short of blaming his loss to St-Pierre on some kind of spygate conspiracy within his own camp.
“To be honest, I don’t know if I really got it anymore," he said, during one of his more self-reflective moments. "I don’t make excuses. I think I’m done with mixed martial arts. I’m tired of getting banged up like this. ... Hopefully I made enough money to invest in something.”
At that second, it was the truth according to Nick Diaz, and we couldn’t help but notice it sounded eerily similar to a truth he voiced 13 months ago, on the heels of an only slightly less definitive loss to Carlos Condit: "I think I'm done with this MMA stuff,” Diaz said at the time. “I don't think they can pay me enough to do this again.”
We all know that particular truth changed a few months later, when rumors first circulated that Diaz would consider coming out of “retirement” for a superfight against middleweight king Anderson Silva. By November, he’d somehow talked his way into a shot at St-Pierre’s welterweight crown. Now that fight has (finally) come and gone and Diaz is retired anew, though this truth, too, had begun to morph into something different by the time he wandered into the postfight news conference some 30 minutes late.
"I just feel like I fought everybody that I set out to fight ...,” he said, taking the stage at the event only after UFC president Dana White announced Diaz wouldn’t be there at all. “But I want a rematch. I think I could beat [St-Pierre]. I think I may be a better matchup for Anderson Silva, as well, but we'll see what happens.”
So there you have it. Diaz wants to retire. Or he wants a rematch. Or he wants to fight Silva. Or something. He wants them all simultaneously and at once manages to give the impression he wants none of them at all.
If he does walk away from MMA forever, seemingly in his prime at the age of 29, it’ll be far from the strangest thing he’s done in his career. Or even last week.
For now the truth is, Diaz is retired, until he decides he’s not.
As always, the truth will continue to be whatever he wants it to be.