Neither the UFC’s Nate Diaz nor Strikeforce’s Nick Diaz are strangers to controversy. In fact, the Diaz brothers are two of the most polarizing individuals in the sport, which usually stems from the fact that both men are skilled competitors while also being bad-boys that aren’t afraid to do or say controversial things. In a new interview, Nate Diaz recently blasted the state of judging in MMA and added fuel to a fire that’s already raging. Here are all the details.
In a new interview with Heavy.com, Diaz said the following: “…If [your opponent] takes you down and lands in your closed guard and gets punched in the head forty times, is he still ahead on points? If you’re on top, you’re winning, and I think it’s ridiculous… In order to be a good UFC fighter or cage fighter I guess I’ve got to learn how to win the rounds. You’ve got to not fight… Apparently I’ve got to grab him and hold him, otherwise he’ll just grab and hold me… Maybe I don’t need to work on my wrestling. Maybe I just need to do the wrestling and not the fighting.”
I find myself both agreeing with and taking issue with what Diaz says, which honestly doesn’t surprise me given how many different sides there are to the “judging in MMA debate”. So let’s start from the top and work our way down.
First off, I’ve never had a problem with dominant wrestlers fighting to a decision. I enjoy a good KO as much as anybody, but some fighters just aren’t built that way. You can be taught effective striking, you can even get a few (T)KO’s on your record, but the simple fact of the matter is that only a select few MMA fighters have that real, vicious KO power that everyone loves to see. It’s a rare trait, and that’s usually why those who have it and use it to its fullest extent end up being so famous. So my point is this: don’t tell a fighter to finish a fight, because as competitive as MMA is today, that’s a pretty hard thing to do.
But here’s the distinction so few fans are willing to make nowadays: there’s a difference between dominant wrestlers and wrestlers who hold their opponents to score points. That’s the kind of fighting style that Diaz is decrying, and that’s something I honestly agree with. In his fight with Diaz, Dong Hyun Kim seemed downright afraid to strike with him, and proceeded to mostly hold Diaz in position, defend submission attempts, and land barely-damaging shots. Like so many other fighters nowadays, “Stun Gun” showed up to win, he didn’t show up to fight. That’s a terrible mentality for this kind of spectator sport even if it’s a very smart mentality to have as a fighter. Kim played it cautiously in order to win, he didn’t care what the fans thought of his performance, and ultimately, he won the fight but lost the respect of many fans, including me.
Here’s the last I’ll say on this subject: Diaz’s rant was probably motivated by some “sour grapes”, but that shouldn’t discredit what Diaz is saying. Just because both Diaz brothers have always had problems with wrestlers shouldn’t magically invalidate their opinion on the subject. I’ll be the first to admit that both Nick and Nate really need to work on their takedown defense, but I won’t pretend like that immediately disqualifies them from having their say on this fiercely-debated topic. Ultimately, Diaz is preaching to the choir. Sadly, no one seems to be listening.
And what about you, fans and friends? What’s your take on Diaz’s remarks?