Nate and Nick Diaz. Photo courtesy of ProElite.com
In terms of the fights that took place last night at EliteXC’s “Return of the King” show in Hawaii, the event was a success. Just about every fight on the card was filled with action from start to finish and each of the televised bouts had explosive and definitive endings, especially the main event, which saw lightweight champion K.J. Noons successfully make his first title defense by quickly stopping former training partner Yves Edwards in the first round.
However morally and ethically, the event was an epic failure.
The biggest reason was what happened after Noons had his EliteXC championship gold wrapped around his waist for a second time. In an attempt to hype a potential rematch between Noons and Nick Diaz, whom Noons defeated last November, EliteXC officials brought Diaz into the cage, his younger brother Nate, a current UFC lightweight, in tow.
Diaz, still suited up in fight gear from his bout against Muhsin Corbbrey earlier in the night, basically told Noons to “man up” after the champion’s hometown crowd disapproved of a second bout between the two when asked by Noons.
“Don’t be scared, homie,” Diaz said. He followed up by flipping Noons the middle finger while the younger Diaz opted to exchange words with Noons’ father, Karl Sr.
The words soon escalated to threats and before long the elder Noons and the Diaz brothers grabbed one another following a water bottle throw, nearly sparking an all-out brawl, the likes of which we haven’t seen since the corners of Tank Abbott and Wesley Correira almost came to blows close to five years ago at the UFC’s 10th anniversary event.
Ringside officials, color commentator Bill Goldberg, and everyone else in the cage jumped in and were able to restore order pretty quickly, despite punches being exchanged between Noons’ father and Nate. Both Diaz brothers quickly jolted from the cage, holding their trademark middle fingers high in the air while walking backstage.
“I’m not sure what happened or who started what, but I feel bad for Yves, a class act who trained really hard for this fight,’’ Noons said when referring to Nick Diaz’s attempt to overshadow EliteXC’s latest feature attraction. “Nick has no class, he’s a bum, a piece of shit, and he and his team disrespected my family and I with their gestures and trash talk and tried to upstage our fight.”
While the episode likely ensures that Noons and Diaz will indeed rematch each other later this year, it almost erased all of the positive momentum EliteXC received from the mainstream media and casual fans around the world after it’s hugely-successful network television debut on CBS two weeks ago. At this stage in the game for MMA, with the sport growing like never before, this is not what we need.
I enjoy watching both Nick and Nate Diaz fight. The majority of their fights are always entertaining, they bring a different kind of attitude to the cage with them, and both possess the skills that likely ensure that one, possibly both will hold some kind of championship in a major promotion one day.
However last night’s stunt was a disgrace and both of them should be ashamed, no matter how “real” both believe they are being with their actions. I’m not sure if Dana White intends on punishing Nate for his ignorance, but I’d at least like to see him think about it, considering he’s now put two of MMA’s biggest shows in a bad light.
Let’s not forget about Karl Noons Sr. either. There’s no reason to be lunging at and throwing punches at someone in the cage after your son scored the biggest win of his career. He’s just as much to blame for acting like a jackass as well.
While Goldberg did a good job of preventing chaos in the cage, his job as the post-fight interviewer last night was one for the ages, and I don’t mean that in a good way.
Like Luke Thomas of Bloody Elbow points out, this isn’t the first time that Goldberg has screwed up in front of a national audience. Goldberg’s handling of Edwards after such a devastating loss makes me wonder if there’s something seriously wrong with him upstairs. Asking Rafael Feijao to stop talking because his English isn’t up to Goldberg’s standards even though the rest of America could understand him just fine is just plain idiotic.
Every time I watch an EliteXC event now that Goldberg is working, I cringe just about every time I hear him talk. He’s obnoxious and despite being a huge supporter of the sport, which I’m sure we all appreciate very much, he’s just not the type of person that should be doing that kind of work on television, plain and simple. I’d much rather have someone that isn’t so concerned with his own appearance as a know-it-all tough guy on TV handling his spot at events.
On top of all of this was Tony Bonello’s pre-fight antics during his staredown with Murilo “Ninja” Rua. In an attempt, I guess, to try and intimidate Rua, Bonello decided it would be convenient to curse out his opponent rather than participate in the usual intense staring contest, all while the microphone is in front of Mario Yamasaki’s face so he can give out instructions. I’m sure it’s not the type of thing CBS wants to worry about when televising an event.
So if I come off as a little too sensitive when it comes to controversial happenings in our sport, so be it. In my honest opinion, these days where MMA is finally making good ground in terms of gaining mainstream acceptance are extremely important for the future. I’d rather have the sport continue to flourish instead of taking a step or two backwards because of the dumb decisions made by certain people.
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