Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2011 | 4:46 p.m.
Video shown at UFC 137 press conference
To fully understand what took place at Mandalay Bay Events Center Wednesday afternoon, according to UFC President Dana White, it’s necessary to rewind four months and look back on a meeting between him and Nick Diaz.
White told Diaz, the Strikeforce welterweight champion who was on a 10-fight winning streak, that he wanted to pay him more than “all the purses you’ve made in your career” combined, to face UFC champion Georges St. Pierre in a title bout. There was one caveat.
Diaz had to change his ways. White made one of mixed martial arts’ most infamous bad boys promise that he would commit to fulfilling media obligations and promoting his UFC 137 main event bout against St. Pierre.
“He looked right in my face and lied to me,” White said. “He said he’d do it.”
Diaz didn’t show up for the UFC 137 press conference Wednesday to promote the pay-per-view fight card scheduled for Oct. 29 at Mandalay Bay. It was Diaz’s second straight absence, as he pulled the same stunt at Tuesday’s press stop in Toronto.
White said Diaz missed four flights, three to Toronto and one to Vegas, booked by the UFC and wasted $15,000 the promotion spent on his travel. No one — not even brother Nate Diaz, according to White — could reach Nick after he snuck out the back door of his manager’s house to miss his third flight.
The unreliability forced White to take Nick Diaz out of the bout and replace him with Carlos Condit, who has won four in a row and was supposed to take on B.J. Penn in the UFC 137 co-main event.
“This kid absolutely deserves this title shot,” White said of Condit. “Not only for what he’s accomplished, but the professional he is. When we called Carlos Condit and offered him this fight, he started crying.”
Condit immediately jumped on a plane to Vegas from his home in Albuquerque, N.M., but couldn’t make the press conference with only two hours notice. He will spend the next two days in town shooting commercials and other promotional material for the UFC.
“The timing was perfect for this to all come together,” Condit said in a statement.
“With me already fighting on that card, I will need to make some adjustments to get ready for a new opponent, but my actual training is right on schedule.”
St. Pierre said he believed Condit presented a bigger challenge than Diaz. The reigning welterweight champion tried to switch his focus solely to Condit Wednesday, but was still in shock over the Diaz situation.
St. Pierre was long bothered by some of the things Diaz said about him. Diaz regularly opined that St. Pierre wasn’t deserving of the hype that made him the UFC’s most notable star. Unlike everyone else, Diaz didn’t believe St. Pierre was one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world.
But Diaz will have no opportunity to stand behind his words after his bizarre actions.
“I would have never done something like that,” St. Pierre said. “I’ve trained 10 years for this — the UFC, the world title, this. To me, this means everything to me. I just don’t understand how someone doesn’t show up to an important thing like this. I just can’t believe it. It’s amazing. I don’t know what to say. It’s crazy.”
White paused the press conference when he received a call from Cesar Gracie, Diaz’s manager in San Francisco.
“I apologize and I agree with you 100 percent and with what you’re doing,” Gracie said on the call, according to White. “We’re embarrassed. I don’t even know what to say. I haven’t thought much, I’ve been trying to chase Nick Diaz down all around town. No one can find him. He’s hiding from everybody.”
White said he hadn’t decided whether he would cut Diaz from the UFC roster, but it seemed likely. The UFC also hadn’t found the time to discuss potential replacements for Condit to face Penn.
As much as Diaz has accomplished in mixed martial arts, his career has always been partly defined by mistakes — a failed drug test for marijuana, a series of post-fight brawls and numerous missed press events.
But White said none of those missteps compared to what he saw this week.
“I’ve promoted 1,600 fights in my career and this has never, ever happened once,” White said. “Never. We’ve never had a situation where a guy goes M.I.A.”