Nick Diaz and the Demon-possessed.
To be fair, we are all demon-possessed. By that I mean we carry within our personality all the painful memories of our past, all the disappointments and anger. And in good ways and bad, that pain forms us or leaves us malformed.
Watching the UFC Primetime promotion for UFC 143 Diaz vs Condit, one could not help but be amazed at the psychological stress Nick Diaz endured to allow those cameras into his world. Diaz was obviously on his best behavior, making up to the UFC money-men (as he should). And he visibly tries to open up and show the world another Nick Diaz. But what comes out is this: I had a tough time growing up in school. I felt a lot of rejection. I never felt good enough. I hated it. I was enraged by it. Screw the world!
One of Diaz's former coaches explained Nick Diaz by saying that this is a guy who is frustrated by an inability to express himself, but who makes poetry in a fight. I thought that was an apt summation.
The impression that really stays with the viewer, however, is one of pain. Nick Diaz still hurts when he thinks of those hard years growing up. Whenever someone criticizes him it opens old wounds and bad memories. Whenever the media asks prying or incendiary questions, it is like a hard poke into an unhealed injury. He does not react as a well-paid professional athlete, a celebrity fighter, or a grown man who could put a beat down on a room full of journalists. No, he is still a lonely, skinny kid, standing on a playground, wishing those mean kids would stop laughing at him.
In contrast, Carlos Condit looked like a well-adjusted person, an adoring father, and a dutiful husband. Interestingly enough, Carlos Condit probably had as troubled an adolescence as Diaz, perhaps worse. He certainly had plenty of chances to end up as a convict had he not found Jackson's MMA. But the contrast is amazing. Carlos Condit has somehow made some peace with his past, laid down the hatchets, and embraced life.
Nick Diaz still lives with his pain. Perhaps he nurtures it like a warm fire against a cold world; and it fuels him through his triathlons. Or conceivably he can't forgive, can't forget. After so many years, perhaps the demons are not just his tormentors, but also his friends. And to be fair, he does channel the pain into a professional sport. He could be a thug, a felon, a truly bad man.
But whatever the case may be, Nick Diaz is undeniably real, and perhaps this is why so many fans appreciate him. You might think that he is not sophisticated enough to be a fraud, that he is too stoned to care, or that his personal code is essentially indifferent to the opinion of the crowd. Whatever the case, that dude is real! Painfully real. Very painfully.
As a fan, I confess that I found myself more sympathetic to Nick Diaz after watching the show. Further, I hope that fame and fate is kind to him. I hope he forgives those silly kids who hurt him. I hope Cesar Gracie teaches a class that goes something like this: Guys, I want you to think about this ... in the same manner that there is a counter to every technique, hate also has a counter, and that counter is Love.
I don't mean this in some syrupy,...