In the long list of things Nick Diaz has done during his career that have made him unmistakably Nick Diaz—including, but not limited to, taunting Robbie Lawler during a fight, scrapping with Joe Riggs in a hospital after a fight, failing to appear at a press conference promoting the biggest fight of his life, mocking Anderson Silva by lying down in the cage, "wolf tickets"—there is nothing more Nick Diaz-y than what happened yesterday.
According to a UFC press release Diaz was flagged by the United States Anti-Doping Agency for failing to file accurate Whereabouts information, a requirement under the promotion's partnership with the anti-doping regulatory group. "Diaz, like all other UFC athletes, is enrolled in USADA's UFC Registered Testing Pool," the release said, "and required to file accurate Whereabouts information in order to be located for out-of-competition, no-notice testing."
What that means is, since fighters need to be available at any time to have samples taken by USADA officers for random drug tests, they're all given apps for their phones that they have to use to fill out where they're going to be every day. Three Whereabouts Failures in a 12-month period count as a potential anti-doping violation and result in a provisional suspension. The punishment for first-time offenders is a six-month to two-year suspension.
So, as of now, Nick Diaz, who hasn't appeared in the Octagon since his fight with Silva in January, after which he was busted for a failed drug test and suspended for 18 months, is provisionally suspended and could be gone for another two years, at which point he would be 35. He is the first fighter flagged under the three-strikes rule.
Now, under the USADA policy Diaz can contest any or all of the Whereabouts Failures with a review panel within 14 days of the provisional suspension, which means he could be fighting again soon. Something tells me, though, that such an appeal isn't going to happen, that this incident might just be the administrative straw that finally breaks the back of MMA's most-bureaucracy-allergic star. I mean, does anyone really think Nick Diaz, who for years has flaunted, dismissed, squirmed under, bucked against, mocked, and lambasted the laws and guidelines of the UFC, USADA, and numerous athletic commissions as the meaningless concoctions of small minds unaware of and incapable of understanding the life of the true fighter and bent on destroying his will, is going to accept the punitive authority of a fucking Whereabouts Failure violation? That he would voluntarily go before something called an "independent administrative review panel" and beg the mercy of a bunch of suits appointed by—wait for it—USADA itself?
And would we want him to? Sure, there's nothing in this world I want more than to see Nick Diaz fight again. But there may be nothing in this world I want less than to think about Nick Diaz accounting for his whereabouts to a room full of paper-pushers and then apologizing for not making himself available to them. What could be more heartbreaking than imagining the great MMA rebel knuckling under to the whims of the new UFC bureaucracy—than seeing a rare free spirit give in? As painful as it is to think about, the new cleaned-up UFC may just not work for Diaz. The dream may be over, the glory days gone. The rise of the UFC into the world of multi-billion-dollar valuations and mainstream athletic acceptance may simply and inevitably be coming at the cost of the Diaz spirit. Once again, the collective imaginative asphyxiation of small minds and the ruthless demands of middle management have conspired to destroy one of the beautiful things of the world. It's a tale as old as late capitalism: individuals will only be tolerated for so long before the great whirlpool of corporate efficiency reaches up to drag them down and drown them. And as much as I'd love to see Diaz fight I'd much rather see him live.