It’s been a crazy ride for Nick Diaz these past couple of months.
Originally scheduled to face Georges St. Pierre for the UFC welterweight title in the main event of UFC 137, Diaz was removed from the card entirely after missing a couple of media appearances. After releasing a YouTube video, filmed in his car, that is more famous for his comments towards another drivers mother than it is for his remorse.
UFC president Dana White was so upset at Diaz for his actions that he added the former Strikeforce champion back to the UFC 137 card to face B.J. Penn in the co-main event.
A few weeks later, St. Pierre had to pull out of his new fight against Carlos Condit, bumping Diaz vs. Penn into the main event slot. The next day, Diaz was late to a media call, which apparently was the fault of the UFC staff and not Nick’s, and when he finally got on the line he was very candid with his responses to questions.
In every situation, “Nick Diaz” was a trending topic on Twitter, leading certain members of the MMA media to believe that this would be a good sign for UFC 137. I beg to differ. What’s trending on twitter means absolutely nothing. Every time WWE runs a PPV, the wrestlers/matches currently going on end up trending on twitter. These PPVs barely do 150,000 domestic buys.
You know what was trending on Twitter the same time as Diaz the other week? “Lindsey Lohan” For those that don’t see why that’s a big deal, the correct spelling of Ms. Lohan’s first name is “Lindsay” not “Lindsey”.
I love Twitter, but I also acknowledge that it’s a very flawed media device and shouldn’t be used to gauge interest in a product. Here’s the thing people don’t seem to realize about twitter: it’s used by young, tech savvy people, who are also sheep. You may think everyone on twitter is a moron, and there are a lot of them out there, but there does take a certain level of internet smarts to send out a tweet.
The young and tech savvy people that use twitter and help certain topics reach a level to where their trending are the same young people who don’t have enough money to actually buy the products that are trending and are the same tech savy people who can get these products through illegal means.
Diaz has always been a polarizing character, sometimes controversial, figure. There’s a saying that “controversy creates cash” but so far in his MMA career, thanks in large part to being part of the Strikeforce organization, Diaz hasn’t drawn a ton of cash. He’s drawn ratings for the organization but when you really look at, he’s been the face of two organizations with the other being EliteXC. One went out of business and the other is on the verge of doing so.
Also, just because you’re able to draw TV ratings, doesn’t mean you’ll draw PPV buys. The biggest problem there is that once fans see you on TV, they don’t feel like paying for your fight. The best example of this is Kimbo Slice. He was a huge TV draw. Every time he fought on television, he set a new record. Then, when he was finally put on PPV at UFC 113, he added almost nothing to the buyrate.
Don’t get me wrong, if the UFC 137 buyrate does bad, I won’t put the blame on Diaz and I’m not saying that he doesn’t have the potential to draw, but to say that his “controversial” actions, the fact that he trended on twitter, and the fact that he brought viewership to Strikeforce means he’s this superstar in MMA or that the UFC 137 buyrate is going to be huge is just wrong.
There are very few superstars in MMA. St. Pierre and Brock Lesnar are about the only superstars in the sport. There are guys who are on the verge of stardom and guys who can draw with the right opponents, but Diaz has never proven that he can sell a PPV.
However, Penn, Diaz’ opponent this Saturday, has proven to be a consistent draw in the sport and whatever the UFC 137 buyrate ends up being, the credit (or blame) will likely fall on the shoulders of Penn and not Diaz.
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC