‘WAR’ Diaz

The news of Nick Diaz’ new fight promotion, ‘WAR’, is currently drifting around the internet as an interesting but relatively insignificant blip in an ocean of otherwise UFC-centric action.

We are all aware of the brutal unanimous dooms of promotions like Affliction, IFL, M1, Strikeforce, The Score, etc, who have all tried and died attempting to compete with the juggernaut UFC brand. So why should ‘WAR’ be any different? Why should we believe that a character like Nick Diaz can succeed where other far more business-savvy men like Scott Coker or Vadim Finklestein (wait – scratch that last one) failed?

Everything obviously leads to the unavoidable demise that such a production will ultimately face. Nick Diaz has most certainly entered what Dana White so affectionately calls; ‘The Money-Losing Business”.

It is the opinion of this MMA fanatic however, that we might instead be witnessing something quite different that is flying totally under our radar;

I am not stating this because of any Nick Diaz-bandwagon that I may or may not be on (or driving). I am stating this because I am seeing this as a symptom and response to something much bigger that we might just be beginning to realize.

With the UFC going mainstream, the regulations, liabilities, and corporate tentacles are going through the roof. Production values are soaring, sponsorship paydays are becoming as big as the fights themselves, and the ‘managing’ of fighters has become a lucrative career. Nate Diaz was recently hit with a huge fine for a mere tweet, and Matt Mitrione was outright suspended for just being a doofus on camera. Fighters are becoming expected to behave like professionals both in and out of the ring, with class acts like Georges St. Pierre as the model poster boy. Fighters will have to watch what they say more than ever, and soon we’ll be seeing what I call the ‘NHL Interview Syndrome’, which is when every player predictably answers questions identically, every time – because that’s the way they’ve been trained to.

Yet as the UFC rises to the ranks of elite professional sport franchises, there is something innate about the very heart of MMA that seems to be subtly vanishing… that hidden something that made us fall in love with fighting in the first place - that rush you got the first time we watched a UFC or PRIDE event, or found a fabled ‘Gracie-in-Action’ VHS cassette tape. That psychological connection we make to the realities of a street-fight, and our own memories of perhaps being in such experiences. That something that made us watch Kimbo’s pre-TUF invitation street-fight videos, and made us love Martial Arts purists all over the world. That undeniable bottom line where we say ‘a fight’s a fight’, and the talk is over. We don’t have to pretend to be friends; lets fucking scrap.

Nick Diaz had that hidden something… and they couldn’t take it out of him. This is why the Diaz bros never apologized for smoking herbs, and were always transparent to call out the parts of the business they thought were bullshit. It’s why he never pretended to be friends with someone he was about to throw down with, or never thought twice before starting an in-ring Strikeforce melee because he had to stand up for his boy. He saw the game for what it is, and wasn’t gonna pretend it’s anything else.

The UFC also seems to be showing no signs of recognizing, along with the rest of civilized humanity, that our current pot laws are sheer corrupt lunacy, and are continue to perpetuate the bullshit with full force at the expense of their own employees. Now other fighters who understand the sacredness of the herb will be under violent surveillance as well, with tests, penalties, suspensions and jail-time looming over them every day for something they feel no real ethical guilt for, so that corporations who have nothing to do with fighting can maintain their profits.

Other fighters who may be coming up from the streets or favelas that haven’t read the politically-correct rule-books will likely find themselves at a career disadvantage for not knowing how to kiss assess as effectively as others. And don’t get me started on still having the US Marines as one of the UFC’s top sponsors.

At what point is someone not willing to play along? Where is the line between being a respectful professional, and selling one’s dignity? After how many hoops will you jump through before you refuse to jump? At what point do you say, ‘I don’t need you Funky Boss, we can do this ourselves’.

This is what I believe separates ‘WAR’ from other competing fight promotions. Nick is not trying to get a piece of the pie, or see those PPV dollars coming in. The other fallen promotions fell into the corporate trap of letting money rule us instead of our hearts. They played the capitalist game, and got KTFO.

But I don’t see Nick Diaz as having this same corporate motivation. I can’t see Nick doing this for the money, nor do I think he would want to overtake the UFC even if he could. Nick just wants to fight. - He wants other fighters to fight. He is tired of the bullshit and has cut his shackles. He has trusted his own creative power, and is writing his own rules. He is breaking new ground, and this is why I think he will succeed.

Alan Watts used to ask young people; “If money were no object, what would you do?”. The students would all answer in various ways, each describing their passions and what would make them happiest etc. “- Then go do that”, Alan would say. This is what I believe Nick Diaz is doing. No bells and whistles, no false faces. Just following his passion, right in the face of what others will tell him are impossible odds.

It is this writer’s opinion that his is how good all shit will get done in the future in ALL aspects of society, not just MMA; take out the red tape. Cut out the bureaucrats. Bottom up, not top down. Do it for the love (whatever you do), not the money. Get local. Be honest. Cut the crap.

And in a culture and system that can likewise often contradict our own inner guidance, amidst a labyrinth of rules, regulations, lies and coercions to make us keep playing what we are all starting to see is a rigged game - maybe ‘WAR’ just may be the solution.

And Nick Diaz may just be leading the charge.

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