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MMA Roundtable: Help for Nick Diaz, Ronda Rousey on TUF, and more

Things are finally slowing down in the MMA world for a couple weeks. Fortunately, recent events left us all with plenty to discuss in the meantime. So I’m glad to have my West Coast tag team partner, Shaun Al-Shatti, join me for the latest edition of The MMA Roundtable. From armchair psychoanalysis of Nick Diaz, to the news of the co-ed season of The Ultimate Fighter, to whether Johny Hendricks is really Georges St-Pierre’s toughest challenge to the fights we’re most anticipating in a loaded April, we cover all the bases. 1. Let’s cut right to the chase: Does Nick Diaz need help? Doyle: I suppose I should start with the standard we’re not qualified to make a mental evaluation of someone based on how they’re presented in the media, but, you know what? Most writers who use that sort of qualifier then go right ahead and make a mental evaluation anyway, so never mind. I usually don’t read too much into rambling diatribes of Diaz’s sort. That’s simply because, well, everyone knows a stoner who wages his or her lonely struggle against The Man and rambles about conspiracies. I don’t know about you, but I tend to let those sort of things go in one ear and out the other. So in and of itself, that’s not necessarily a problem, but in Diaz’s case, you have to tie it into the bigger picture. What seems clear to me is that if Diaz wants to continue with his career on an elite level, he needs a shakeup. He’s progressed as far as he can as a fighter with Cesar Gracie. His last win was over a fading B.J. Penn. He looked lost against both Carlos Condit and Georges St-Pierre when neither would stand in front of him and bang. And even later in the fight, when GSP did stand with him, we never saw the punches in bunches Diaz emerge. Add in Diaz’s talks of never paying taxes in his life — God, I hope for his sake that’s not true — and he sounds like someone who needs a manager who can take of his finances, can channel his rebellious streak into a less self-defeating direction, and can force him to take a fresh approach to his fight preparation and game planning. The chances of that happening? Slim to none, given Diaz’s legendary loyalty to those around him. It’s hard to shake the feeling we’re watching the beginnings of a slow-motion train wreck. Al-Shatti: This is a tough question. Like Dave, my knee-jerk response falls somewhere along the lines of not wanting to rush to judgment about the personal lives of others, particularly based on their media persona. Though if you’re pressing me to string together words on this topic, it seems like Diaz himself would agree that he needs help. The guy basically threw his team under the bus throughout UFC 158’s post-fight presser, grousing about everything from his non-existent training partners, to the overall lack of people willing to help him out, which eventually led to the infamous tax rant. Now, I’m not privilege to Cesar Gracie’s daily practices, so I won’t comment on whether Diaz should split from his coach. But Gracie’s hesitation when asked on The MMA Hour if he’d like to continue managing Diaz is telling enough. And honestly, it’s hard not to blame him. Overseeing both Nick and Nate can’t be an easy task, especially when you pile on Gracie’s duties running an entire fight team. There’s something to be said for having too much on your plate. From the outside, the Diaz/Gracie managerial relationship seems to have run its course. It’s worth asking, but if Diaz wants to continue fighting, what’s the downside to investing some of that tax-free income on a personal assistant whose sole focus is getting the Stockton native what he needs, where and when he needs it? Then again, as Dave mentioned, Diaz’s loyalty is legendary, so it may take something drastic for that conversation to even start taking place. 2. The announcement of TUF 18 featuring both men and women bantamweights was met with a flood of snark. Even Miesha Tate tweeted that the UFC may want to look into Trojan as a sponsor. Is there any way this doesn’t turn into Real World: TUF Edition? Al-Shatti: It’ll definitely be fresh, that’s for sure. It’s telling that more than a few fighters who’ve cycled through the TUF meat grinder, what with it’s rampant cabin fever and bottomless streams of alcohol, have already giggled about the co-ed possibilities, albeit some more tactfully than others. In many ways the ball is in the UFC’s court here. Dana White and Co. have the means to make TUF 18 an MMA version of Jersey Shore if they chose to. Simply cast the ”ËœLet me bang, bros’ of the world, unleash them in the house and allow the most bizarre TUF season ever to unfold. The thing is, and maybe this is just wishful thinking on my part, but with TUF 17’s reversion to a more serious tone and the high praise it has received, it seems unlikely the UFC would elect to go lowbrow with its newest grand experiment. Still, even if the show is tailored to its purest sporting form, it’s impossible to predict what will happen. Fighters are ulti…

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