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Nick Diaz saga continues as UFC 137 nears

Diaz: “There’s a whole world and ain’t nobody who can beat me.”

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ASSOCIATED PRESS

Strikeforce welterweight champion Nick Diaz fights K.J. Noons in a bout in 2010. Diaz won the fight by unanimous decision.

UFC 137 News Conference

Georges St. Pierre and Dana White take part in a news conference to announce the card for UFC 137 on Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2011, at Mandalay Bay Events Center. Nick Diaz was slated to face St. Pierre but was pulled from the fight and replaced with Carlos Condit due to multiple failed media appearances, missed company flights and general disappearance. Launch slideshow »

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Evidence is inconclusive as to whether Nick Diaz learned his lesson after missing a UFC press tour last month and being pulled from a championship fight against Georges St. Pierre.

Diaz appeared to skip yet another media event Wednesday afternoon, the UFC 137 pre-fight conference call, before dialing in 45 minutes late. As usual, he took no responsibility for his absence.

“I didn’t know there was a call,” Diaz said. “I trained last night, went home, got something to eat and went to sleep. Woke up and my brother is telling me I’m supposed to be on a call. I didn’t know anything about it.”

UFC President Dana White said the No. 1 reason he replaced Diaz in the St. Pierre bout was because the former Strikeforce champion couldn’t handle the pressure of a main event.

But Diaz (25-7 MMA, 6-4 UFC) now finds himself in a main event anyway. His welterweight contest with B.J. Penn (16-7-2 MMA, 12-6-2 UFC) took over the headlining role of UFC 137, which takes place Oct. 29 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center, after St. Pierre injured his knee yesterday.

It’s worth wondering if Diaz is prepared for the media parade that comes with promoting the card over the next 10 days. He’s still not sure he made any mistakes to begin with.

“I better plead the fifth on that,” Diaz said. “I didn’t make any mistakes as far as training and doing what I do. I’ve been there putting in 100 percent. I always thought that was what the sport was — people want to see good fights, they want to see good fighters. That’s what I’m trying to bring to the table.”

Diaz’s unreliability bothered and baffled St. Pierre. When they were still scheduled to fight, St. Pierre said it wasn’t fair that he would have to carry the promotional load for Diaz.

Penn, on the other hand, couldn’t care less about what Diaz does.

Click to enlarge photo

Blood pours from the nose of B.J. Penn in the third round of his welterweight title bout against champion Georges St. Pierre at UFC 94 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

“I was a fan of Nick Diaz before he was in the UFC and I enjoyed watching his antics then,” Penn said. “I know Nick Diaz personally. I know Nate Diaz. Whatever they do, they are being themselves and it’s no problem.”

One thing Diaz hasn’t run away from is his unhappiness with having to fight Penn. The two trained together in the past and shared mutual respect.

Diaz said fighting someone he considered a friend gave him “a shady” feeling. Although Penn has lost to St. Pierre twice in the past, Diaz ranked his ex-training partner as “a better all-around fighter” than the Canadian champion.

Penn isn’t worried about any of this taking away excitement from their fight. Penn wouldn’t even be surprised if Diaz came into the octagon and went through his usual taunting routine of dropping his hands and challenging his opponent verbally.

“I expect him to come out and say a bunch of things and I might be saying some stuff myself,” Penn said. “That’s just the nature of the game. Fighting is a tough sport. Tough people are involved.”

Diaz would say no one is tougher than himself. His go-to excuse for his inaccessibility is a grueling training regimen.

“I train harder than these guys. I fight harder than these guys. I look better than these guys. I do better than these guys,” Diaz said. “That’s why I don’t get no help and I don’t worry about no help. That’s what takes up all my time, training and becoming the best in the world. That’s what you’re dealing with. There’s a whole world out there and ain’t nobody who can beat me.”

Diaz has won 10 in a row — six by knockout, three by submission and one decision — and gone 11-1 since his first stint in the UFC ended in 2006. No one has ever questioned his worth as a fighter.

It’s his ability to take care of all the other things that come with his job that worries people like White.

“I’ve got all these business people, big-money people around me trying to make deals,” Diaz said. “I don’t know anything about that. All I know is someone is getting paid over a hundred grand just to tell me what I’m supposed to do and what I’m not supposed to do. For that much money, I think I could have had someone standing around telling me, ‘Hey, you can’t miss this press conference.’”

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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