MONTREAL – Get your wolf tickets to the show, if you can.
Only 1,100 reportedly remain to see UFC 158, which takes place Saturday at Montreal’s Bell Centre, but there’s another one to see whenever Nick Diaz (26-8 MMA, 7-5 UFC) picks up a microphone.
Although slightly simmered down from a longer night of sleep, the UFC welterweight challenger was in classic form at the press conference for Saturday’s event.
In under 30 minutes, he apologized for no-showing an open workout in support of the event, compelled UFC President Dana White to come to his defense, riled champ Georges St-Pierre (23-2 MMA, 17-2 UFC), cast doubt on his ability to pass a post-fight drug test, and introduced a new term into the lexicon of pop MMA culture: wolf tickets, which, according to the Urban Dictionary, means to speak aggressively to someone without intending to back it up with violence.
All in a day’s work for the man from Stockton, Calif., whose inscrutable character has won him a fight with the most dominant welterweight champ in UFC history.
Diaz opened the gathering with an explanation for his latest misbehavior: missing a chance to hit pads and answer questions from media.
Of course, like most Diaz explanations, the misbehavior was justified because circumstances had forced his hand. The UFC had flown him in late the night prior to workouts, and he would have gotten only two hours of sleep had he shown up.
“It was either I miss that, or I miss this,” Diaz said. “I was going to have to catch up on a bunch of sleep. I was on some later hours, and I think it outweighed the repercussions, and I’m sorry. I put on a show for the fans, but I also like to put on a show for the fans Saturday night. So I’m just trying to make the best decisions to make a showing at 100 percent.”
UFC President Dana White cut off further inquiries on the reasons for Diaz’s absence and promised there would be no more hiccups in the official schedule. But again, he took issue with Diaz’s reasoning for bowing out of promotional obligations.
“I understand it gets a little frustrating, but it’s part of the job,” he said. “When everybody talks about the money that Floyd Mayweather and all those guys make, you ever see the tours that those guys go on? They’re city-to-city, non-stop tours throughout the entire country. It’s part of our gig.”
Diaz made it clear that despite his issues with promotion, he would like more exposure. He said he wanted the opportunity to be the good guy, though he said the UFC has other ideas. He chafed at the UFC’s promotional poster for the event, which featured his mean-mug in blue-stained relief against St-Pierre.
“They’re pretty much making me out to be the evil villain,” he said. “I fit the description. I think Georges, he fits the description of the good guy. But you look at my poster. No offense, but you guys have plenty of time to switch the poster. That poster is like from years ago. Can I get one buttered up, photoshopped picture in a magazine or on a poster?”
But Diaz said the UFC isn’t the only one that paints him as the villain. St-Pierre shares responsibility, too, for equating him to a schoolyard bully, as the champ did in the buildup to the fight.
“How many times have you had a gun to your head, Georges?” Diaz said, looking straight at the champ. “How many of your best friends been shot through the chest with a .45, or how many of your best friends been stomped into a coma? How many kids put gum in your hair growing up? Should I go further? It’s hard times for everybody.”
As he had during a conference call in support of the event, St-Pierre, who sat on the opposite side of the podium, attempted to defend the latest of accusations from Diaz.
“I don’t even know why were even asking this question? The reason why we’re fighting is because I believe Nick is the best guy in martial arts right now, and I’m fighting him because he’s the best guy.”
Diaz cut the champ off.
“Yeah, but you tell the fans that I deserve to get beat down,” he said.
Again, Diaz had sucked all the air out of the room. He offered that St-Pierre and the UFC are putting on a front, which, if previous gripes are interpreted correctly, means that they aren’t supporting the spirit of martial arts.
“They’re selling you all wolf tickets, people,” he said. “You’re eating them right up. Georges here is selling wolf tickets. Dana here is selling wolf tickets. The UFC is selling wolf tickets. You guys are eating them right up.”
And the challenger was only getting warmed up. He went on the offensive about St-Pierre’s fighting style, saying teammate Jake Shields and previous challenger Carlos Condit beat him, and again railed against an MMA scoring system he felt wasn’t a true representation of the sport.
“The strong guy on steroids would love to ignore it,” Diaz said. “He wants to go in there and avoid the fight, and hold on and get the takedown and win the round. I’d love a 10-minute round. See who could work through a 10-minute round.”
It was when Diaz recounted his version of a now-infamous run-in between the two on the weekend of UFC 137 that St-Pierre started to lose his cool. After Diaz implied that St-Pierre had been afraid to confront him when they ran into each other at a hotel hosting the event’s fighters, the champ interjected.
“Do you really think I’m afraid of you?” said St-Pierre. “You think I’m afraid of you, man? Are you crazy in your head, man? I’m not scared of you. You’ll see Saturday night if I’m afraid of you.”
Away they went, trading more verbal jabs. For the first time, St-Pierre’s normally calm exterior began to crack. The more upset St-Pierre got, the more satisfied Diaz seemed to be. There were more skirmishes, and with each, the champ expressed more emotion than he ever had before. And yet there was no indication that the conflict would escalate when the two faced off for photographers at the end of the press conference.
But when St-Pierre disengaged from the face-off, his frustration was palpable. Hurricane Diaz had blown through another press event, and the show had been at his expense.
For more on UFC 158, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.