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Triggered: MMA Fairweathers Call CTE

Nick Diaz gives more awkward, detached and off topic responses during interviews than any other high-profile fighter in his era. Whether he is complaining about his purse or taking unsolicited shots at George St. Pierre, it’s common for him to ramble.

On November 11th Diaz gave an interview on Ariel Helwani’s ESPN platform and the public began making strong assumptions that Diaz is punch drunk. It does not help that physically Nick seems to be uncomfortable facing Ariel in the interview. He fidgets, his posture is tense, and he’s being forced to look at his interviewer up close and almost face to face. Fans point out how he cannot stay on task and that this must be due to the damage he sustained throughout his career. While it is important to acknowledge the lack of focus Diaz shows, this is congruent with his disposition.  

A post shared by ESPN MMA (@espnmma) on Nov 11, 2019 at 2:06pm PST

The public should note that Diaz has a history of accusing Ariel of being a transparent instigator. Nick also commonly references Ariel’s past transgressions (in his eyes) and proceeds to both predict and disregard the questions he feels Ariel will follow up with. Whether or not Nick always predicts the exact inquiries is not definitive. Ariel does however seem to have a low output of questions in the interactions between the two. At the very least, he asks Nick less questions than Nate, though Nate is known to drift off topic as well.

Before the Paul Daley fight Helwani uploaded an interview he finished for AOL on April 7th 2011. Ariel asks Nick if he agrees with people that feel that Daley might be his toughest test as champion. Diaz responds, “anything can happen”, then proceeds to go on a harangue about being underappreciated. “They fight me too much you know. I’m the most overworked, over trained, underpaid you know…” He maintains almost no eye contact throughout the entire interview and even takes a shot at GSP for no reason. Diaz says he does not get paid enough so, “I don’t even know why I’m doing this anymore, ‘cause I feel like I get paid way too much money but not enough…”. 

In the same interview Ariel mentions that Diaz and Daley seem to respect one another. Diaz state that there is no disrespect between the two. He says that he hopes Daley does not cheap shot him like Daley did to Josh Koscheck, and then begins to rant about fighters stalling, and how PRIDE had a better scoring and rule enforcement system. He elaborated on his and Daley’s frustration with fighters that just hold them down and stall. Most of his answer was not in response to an explicit question from Helwani. 

A post shared by MattE (@matterickson23) on Mar 17, 2013 at 3:16am PDT

In the UFC 158 pre-fight interview, at 7:20, a French-speaking reporter asks Nick if he feels like the UFC pictures him as the villain and does it piss him off. Nick turns that reporter’s question into his own interrogation asking GSP, “how many times you had a gun to your head George?”, “…it’s hard times for everybody… I doubt he was ever a hopeless person…”.

These instances of Diaz’s unwillingness or inability to stay on task are consistent with Monday’s interview. Combat athletes are known to have trouble paying attention to low energy interactions like interviews, school lectures etc. This hysteria about Nick’s brain health is not based on behavioral variation. It is largely generated by a lack of familiarity with Nick after such a hiatus. Nick Diaz has never been articulate but has at times been very insightful and shown a lot of self-reflection. While he’s certainly not unscathed, he’s not necessarily showing signs of being crippled cognitively and kinesthetically. A better thing to consider is, what was Ariel thinking hosting an interview with Nick Diaz with that seating orientation. When you combine that position, open ended questions and Nick Diaz’s disposition, this is the type of interview you will get every time. So just relax.■

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