Do steroids, get one year. Smoke a joint get five. On the surface that is what is being debated feverishly in some corners since the Nevada State Athletic Commission rendered its verdict this week.

But like the man in the eye of the which drug is worse storm, it is much deeper.

There is no one like Nick Diaz in all of fighting. He is an unappologetic supporter and user of marijuana. He is also a talented athlete not just in the cage; a marathon runner; a judicious dieter; and a fiercely loyal friend to his small ultra tight circle.

He is as Kris Kristofferson once wrote and sang, “A walking contradiction, partly truth, partly fiction.” And it is doubtful less than a handful of those who’ve encountered him ever understood the depths of Diaz. The former WEC champ has been a consistent draw for the UFC to the point they’ve tolerated him, missed press conferences and the like, more than any other controversial fighter.

Nick Diaz is the Charlie Sheen of the octagon. The more outrageous the better, the more audacious the more forgiven. He is Teflon. Or had been until Monday when he was stuck and stuck hard, possibly excessive his ardent supporters–which includes some heavy hitters in the UFC–have shouted.

The latest flunking came from his January fight with Anderson Silva. The No Contest bout because Silva, the winner briefly making a flash return from injury, was busted for using steroids. The NSAC slapped him with a whole one year. Not the five years ban and $165,000 fine that Diaz received.

Juxtaposing these two rulings has been mind bending for many. Stoking as well the debate over marijuana, especially considering the loophole allowing certain levels by the UFC and of course it is a legal drug in some states. And whether the focus is on that or on Diaz specifically is as blurred as a Grateful Dead audience haze.

At 32 the prime years of Diaz are finite, five years would seem to be a reasonable number of top flight years left to fight. Hard to disagree with his fans that this is tantamount to a career death sentence.

However he is a repeat offender, so where is the line? He should be punished, in that there should be no debate, but more than steroid users that appear to bounce back and forth being reinstated? That is the gut of the issue of why was Diaz’ career gutted?

There is an appeal. Maybe it will lead to a redirect of some kind, reduction of years the key.

Just as few truly know what makes Nick tick, there are few that have spent some time with him who doesn’t like him, including me. I devoted a chapter on the complex man in the ebook Not Hit Yet, such is the intrigue of a fighter who can be polarizimg to several, galvanizing to others; who at a glance is reckless yet one closer inspection so disciplined in training.

Diaz has never been a cut-and-dried figure. He is a foreboding gray where most are black or white in definition of life and work. A fighter? Of course. A dedicated athlete? Certainly. A social advocate? Hmm, well maybe.

Trying to answer the question who is Nick Diaz has a broad base of facts and guesses that defies simple defining. Never more than this latest dark gray cloud hovering over him. If this ruling holds it is not just about Diaz’ future.


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