Nick Diaz: One of the most respectful fighters in MMA?

Nick DiazUFC welterweight Nick Diaz could be one of the most misunderstood fighters in MMA today.

He speaks his mind, goes by the beat of his own drum, and is often characterized as a fighter that does nothing but talk trash to his opponents while flipping them off during his fights.

All of those things are true to a degree, but what most Diaz critics fail to see is the respect he shows to most of his opponents after each fight.

Do you remember how the BJ Penn/Nick Diaz weigh-in went down when they basically butted heads and UFC President Dana White had to quickly jump in and separate them? Remember the respect he showed BJ Penn after battering him for the last two rounds of their fight at UFC 137?

Remember the Nick Diaz/Paul Daley weigh-in footage where they called one another all types of names? What about the footage of Diaz and Paul Daley meeting up in the lobby of a hotel after they had waged one of the most epic one round fights ever in April 2011?

Notice a pattern?

Remember the war of words Diaz had with Frank Shamrock in 2009? Do you remember how Diaz walked with Shamrock around the cage after their fight holding his hand in the air, or how he bowed to Shamrock in an corridor outside their dressing room after beating Shamrock into retirement?

Now, it’s true we’ve seen Diaz go off his rocker when close judges decisions don’t go his way. We’ve seen him claim that judges are out to get him, or how he’s overworked and underpaid. We’ve seen how incoherent he can be at times when answering questions in his interviews.

There are many facets to Nick Diaz, and for whatever reasons people have a love/hate relationship with him. Some people love the fact that he sort of does his own thing, abides by his own rules, and simply come to bring it once he steps inside the cage.

Some people despise his antics and bash him for instigating post-fight riots, or the trash talk he uses to get himself motivated to fight his opponents.

All of that stuff is true, but if we’re going to recognize the times that Diaz is unruly or seemingly disrespectful, we need to recognize the times he has shown great humility and respect as well.

It’ll be interesting to see which Nick Diaz shows up on Saturday night when he takes on Georges St. Pierre in the main event of UFC 158. The fight has been billed as ‘personal’, and it sure seemed like it on the UFC 158 conference call last week.

Which Diaz will show up if GSP batters him for five rounds en route to a unanimous decision win or finishes him? Will he claim the judges did him wrong, or give GSP credit for being the better fighter should he lose? If Diaz pulls off the huge upset would he be willing to show respect and grant GSP an immediate rematch since GSP has been such a great champion while holding the title for so long?

I’m not sure but it sure adds another element of intrigue to the upcoming fight. Who will you be rooting for on Saturday night and why?

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