Nearly eight months after his last appearance inside a cage, Nick Diaz finally had his hearing with the Nevada State Athletic Commission earlier today. To put it mildly, things did not go well for Mr. Diaz. While the punishment technically could have been more harsh, the commission effectively put an end to Diaz’ career as a relevant fighter with their unprecedented five year suspension of the fighter. Diaz had been caught with marijuana metabolites in his system for the third time — the previous two being after his fights against Takanori Gomi and Carlos Condit — and despite some conflicting test results from the night of the fight, the commission still handed down the harsh punishment. The crux of the commission’s case boiled down to a pre-fight questionnaire on which Diaz didn’t disclose that he had used drugs in the two weeks prior to the fight, as Diaz’ lawyer did an admirable job of discounting the actual test results from the commission. The MMA community (fighters, fans, and media alike) all universally panned the decision by the commission to ban Diaz for half a decade as well as taking a third of his $500,000 purse from UFC 183. In comparison, his opponent that night, Anderson Silva, was suspended one-year and 30% of his purse for testing positive for two separate steroids following the fight. MMA is rarely a rational sport, and this is simply another example of that. While yes, this was Diaz’ third offense, he was caught for the same drug on all three occasions and it is something that has still yet to be proven a performance-enhancing drug. On the other hand, Silva (and other steroid users) are rarely suspended over a year for taking proven performance-enhancing drugs prior to engaging in a fistfight with another human. The logic behind these types of decisions is absolutely lost on me (and the rest of the MMA world, clearly). Diaz will almost certainly be appealing this decision, and it seems like it will be difficult for the NSAC to uphold such a punishment, especially given that the punishments for past repeat offenders have never been as harsh. Even if Diaz truly has reached his breaking point with the sport of MMA, an appeal would be expected in order for him to retain his full purse from UFC 183. If this does end up leading to the end of Diaz’ career, it’s a complete shame, but also validates many of the things Diaz has complained about for years in regards to MMA and its legislation. It will also be interesting to see if this spurs any change in the MMA community in regards to where fighters will accept bouts (quite possible) or where the UFC will book their shows (probably not). While Diaz’ hearing rightly dominated the news in MMA, there was another interesting note from the weekend. Pedro Rizzo won by TKO down in Brazil on Saturday night, and then announced his retirement from the sport. The bout was Rizzo’s first in over two years, and he used the trademark leg kicks that nearly took him to the top of the heavyweight division back in the early 2000’s to earn a victory at the end of the first round. The Brazilian will retire with a record of 20-11, but most fans (especially older fans) will remember him for his legendary UFC 31 fight with Randy Couture in which many thought he should have captured the promotion’s heavyweight title. Following a loss to Couture in an immediate rematch, Rizzo was unable to get back to the top of the sport, but picked up several high-profile wins throughout the remainder of his career.
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