If there was ever any question that holding out can be good for the career of a mixed martial artist, look no further than the story of Nick Diaz for the answer.
Diaz, 30, signed a three-fight contract extension with the Ultimate Fighting Championship on Thursday. The signing was announced by UFC President Dana White on Twitter, and it was followed swiftly by a full-frontal media assault from the UFC headquarters:
Here is a photo of Nick with White and Lorenzo Fertitta! Here is a photo of Nick signing his new contract! Here is an interview with Nick in text form! Here is an interview with Nick in video form!
The UFC began pushing the news on social media and then trumpeted its own skill at using social media. When #nickdiaz began trending on Twitter, the UFC couldn't announce it quickly enough. It never stopped to mention that trending on Twitter is not actually a popularity gauge. Diaz, for example, was not being talked about by the entirety of the world's population. Trending happens when nobody is talking about a particular subject, and then the subject is suddenly the center of discussion for large swaths of people.
This is not the same as the entire world, from Marseille to Mumbai, hopping on their MacBook Airs and discussing how swell it is that #nickdiaz has returned to professional cagefighting. But let's not let that get in the way of Our Good Fun, and Diaz returning to the UFC is certainly Our Good Fun.
For now, anyway.
History tells us that these halcyon days between the UFC and Diaz may not last so long, and they might not end so well. Because nothing is easy with Diaz, or with his brother Nate, and nothing will ever be easy with either man.
Even today, after Diaz has been hailed as a savior for flagging UFC pay-per-view buyrates (despite never being proven as a pay-per-view draw on his own), his brother Nate sits at home demanding more money, despite a 1-2 record over his last three fights.
These illogical flights of fancy, while mostly a detriment to their careers, are also one of the things that have made them so popular. They don't play by the rules, and the fans love them for it.
They don't just march to the beat of their own drum—they kicked the old drummer square in the nuts, gave him a middle finger and then hired one of their buddies from Stockton to play the drum.
And it works for them, mostly. Not so much for Nate, of course, but Nick "retired" after losing two consecutive fights, and now he's back with what is almost assuredly a contract with more monetary value than the one he was under when he decided to sit at home for a while after losing to Georges St-Pierre in 2013.
Not only that, he's probably going to end up fighting the greatest fighter in the history of the sport on a massive pay-per-view card that will make Nick Diaz a richer man and bigger star than he already is.
Diaz returning to the UFC is a good thing, and it is a story that will likely make for some enjoyable moments from now until he decides he's not making enough money and retires, again.
Perhaps he won't show up for press conferences. Perhaps he'll get in another heated hospital confrontation with Joe Riggs, who inexplicably signed a contract with the UFC on the same day Diaz agreed to return.
There are plenty of outcomes to this story, and very few of them end with Diaz fulfilling this contract agreement, signing another and fighting for years to come. Something will happen with Diaz, because something always happens with a Diaz. It is as inevitable as a Ronda Rousey victory over Gina Carano. The odds that Diaz will walk away from the sport before his contract is up are roughly equivalent to the odds that Dana White will incorrectly use the word "literally."
But for now, none of that matters, because Diaz is back in the UFC. We'll get to see him fight at least once, and I am hopeful we will see some of that Diaz magic that goes along with it.
Because no matter how much of a pain Diaz can be to deal with, the juice is always worth the squeeze, and the UFC needs as much juice as possible at this point.
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