Nick Diaz has built a career on being one of the most enigmatic fighters in mixed martial arts.
The former Strikeforce welterweight champion has become one of the biggest names in the sport due to his gritty performances inside the cage and headline-generating—and often confusing—antics during routine publicity obligations. Nevertheless, little that Diaz has done hasn't been worth watching, and on Saturday night, the polarizing Stockton native dove into the world of MMA promotion.
WAR MMA kicked off its inaugural event from the Stockton Arena with a host of regional talent and a handful of proven names. Former UFC veteran and Cesar Gracie Team fighter Daniel "Ninja" Roberts drew top billing as he faced up-and-comer Justin Baseman. In an unexpected turn, Baseman edged out Roberts via split decision and notched the biggest win of his career.
Overall, the debut showing for Diaz and company was solid. While the first effort from a regional promotion can't be held to the same standard as the bigger dogs in the field, the batch of fighters looking to take a strong step—and for some their first step—into professional MMA was a good one.
That being said, there were plenty of kinks and unusual happenings inside the Stockton Arena on Saturday night.
Let's take a look at the good, bad, and strange from WAR MMA 1.
The advantage about watching regional MMA action is that the fighters waste no time getting down to business. When the opening bell sounds, the fighters race toward each other looking for contact.
One of the major aspects of a promotion's presentation comes in the commentator booth, where WAR MMA scored solid points on Saturday night. Sherdog's T.J. DeSantis and former WEC veteran Javier Vasquez called the action in smooth fashion and kept things rolling.
An added bonus came when longtime MMA referee Josh Rosenthal sat in as a guest commentator during one of the opening bouts. It is rare to hear a seasoned referee give his thoughts as the action plays out, and the California-based official delivered some fantastic insight.
I have to give props to the matchmaking in WAR MMA 1 as well.
Regional shows are notorious for lopsided matchmaking in order to put on knockout fiestas—or in an even worse turn—to pad the records of hometown or promotion-friendly fighters. This was nowhere near the case for WAR, and it deserves to be acknowledged.
With all the attention on the debut event, it would have been easy to include unbalanced undercard fights, but Diaz Promotions put the nonsense aside in order to match up fighters with similar experience and talent.
Anytime a promotion is looking to draw viewers to its product, it's important that people can view it.
WAR's live stream was down for a large part of the first hour, which pushed back the start time considerably. The issue was eventually resolved, but it was still unfortunate for the promotion's opening step into the public world.
While the regional scene has no shortage of heart on display, there is also a good amount of sloppiness.
WAR was no exception.
Hands-down defense and haymaker offense was the default setting inside the ring, which left much to be desired in the crisp MMA department. From fighters putting their hands on their knees in exhaustion to several of them turning their backs following heavy shots, a handful of combatants made poor showings on Saturday.
Then again, a fighter is supposed to work out the kinks in the early stages of his career, so passes can be given.
With the delayed opening and live-streaming issues, it appeared WAR MMA 1 was going to be a circus and the "strange" category would be overflowing with entries. Fortunately for Diaz Promotions, that did not end up being the case, and everything proceeded according to plan in the aftermath.
In fact, the 12-fight card was so normal, it was almost strange how smoothly things ran.
I know that's stretching things, but hang in there with me.
Nevertheless, the night was not free of curious happenings, and the ring was the catalyst for most of them.
Diaz has always been a huge advocate for Japanese MMA. In an effort to bring several aspects of JMMA into his promotion, the former No. 1 contender to the UFC welterweight crown implemented a "no elbows" rule and abandoned the standard cage setting in MMA in favor of a boxing ring.
Diaz believes the ring creates more action and brings about a more technical fight, but I'm not buying it.
While fighting inside a ring is still standard practice in some MMA promotions, most training facilities are equipped with cages. The transition from links to ropes is difficult for fighters, which played a role in several bouts on Saturday night.
Fighters getting their legs underneath them as professionals is one thing, but when it appears they are competing in a foreign environment, it is something different.
In addition, while Diaz prohibited elbows to prevent fights being stopped from cuts, two fights nevertheless ended via doctor stoppage due to cuts. Irony may not be the correct word, but it comes to mind.
As far as in-the-cage news, Roy Boughton filled the toe-hold quota for the next five years by submitting Michael Martinez in the opening seconds of their tilt. Between Boughton pulling off a forgotten submission and Nate Diaz getting in a post-fight skirmish with one of the combatants, the night was an action-packed affair.
The final entry into this category comes in the form of Diaz Promotions' "pay if you want to" method for streaming the fights. Providing free fights is a solid way to get viewers to tune in, while setting a price for an unproven product is a way to make them find something else to watch.
Throughout the broadcast, viewers were encouraged to donate or pay whatever amount they felt was appropriate, and it was funny to hear DeSantis say the most consistent contribution came in the amount of $4.20.
Well played, Diaz fans.
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