It started as the typical dumb fighter story.
Pat Healy, it turns out, smoked marijuana prior to his career-defining win over Jim Miller at UFC 159 last month. Dana White and the UFC, quick to show how tough they are on drugs other than testosterone, immediately jumped in and confiscated Healy's stockpile of post-fight bonuses.
Bryan Caraway, the runner-up for submission of the night, suddenly found himself the lucky recipient of a windfall as the retroactive bonus winner for his guillotine choke on Johnny Bedford.
In other words, your typical boneheaded mistake and your typical blowback. That's the cycle of life for those of us who follow the perpetual soap opera that is mixed martial arts.
Leave it to Nate Diaz to take a story on its last legs and give it new life.
A furious Diaz tweeted about the situation yesterday, calling Caraway "the biggest f@g in the world" for accepting the cash award in Healy's place. Why would Diaz, still a viable force in the UFC, a fighter likely to settle into a long and lucrative career just below the top tier, risk blowing up his career over $65,000?
Worse still, a $65,000 that had no connection to him or anyone in his crew?
It defies belief honestly. There's something in the water up in Stockton, California. Can there be any other explanation?
There are thousands of words Diaz could have used to describe Caraway, who in all fairness, does seem especially reprehensible even on his best day.
Dunderhead. Ninnyhammer. Jerk. Schmuck. Creep. All work. And all work much better than f*g, a term that's never acceptable and certainly not in a post-Jason Collins sports landscape.
Diaz's manager, Mike Kogan, doubled down on the dumb, temporarily channeling urbandictionary.com to explain to MMA Junkie that in Diaz's world at least, f*g doesn't really mean f*g:
Guess what? The word f----t, at least in Northern California, and where Nate is from, means b---h. It means you're a little punk. It has nothing to do with homosexuals at all. So when Nate made the comment that he made, he didn't make it in reference to homosexuals or calling Caraway a homosexual. He just said it was a b---h move.
Fighters need people around to protect them from their baser instincts. Kogan, it seems, prefers to ramp up his clients instead, making a bad situation even worse. He could have encouraged Nate to apologize. He could have explained the account had been hacked. He could have done many things. Any of them would have been better than the above.
And so we wait.
"We are very disappointed by’s comments, which are in no way reflective of our organization," the UFC said in a statement to the media. "Nate is currently suspended pending internal investigation and we will provide further comment once the matter has been decided."
Will Diaz get a slap on the wrist like Matt Mitrione? Or will he be let go to make a strong point to the rest of the roster?
I love to watch the Diaz brothers fight. Watching them attempt ordinary social interactions is almost as fun. But there's nothing fun about homophobia.
I think it's time for the UFC to send a strong message to Stockton about social norms and the appropriate way to walk the thin line between hate, humor and the all encompassing need to keep things real. Time to let the Diaz brothers fly away. If they ever really loved us, they will return as better men and better fighters.
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