Sep 13, 2011, 10:07 AM EDT
Cesar Gracie got it right, if you ask me. I’m no doctor, he’s no doctor, but he knows Nick Diaz as well as anyone. Better than me and you, at least. So when his trainer says he thinks Nick Diaz has social anxiety disorder, I’m inclined to agree.
I’ve had that suspicion for years, although conveniently never said anything until now. The suspicion began because Diaz reminds me of Ricky Williams, who has been diagnosed with the disorder. Both men have had painful relationships with the media (Williams famously wore his helmet with a dark visor while reporters interviewed him), and their interviews and answers to questions are equally as strange. Both men should have been or could be superstars, but shy away from it. And of course, they’re both famous for self-medicating with marijuana, despite disastrous consequences to their career.
The latest Diaz fiasco cost him a title shot in what would have been the biggest, and likely most profitable, fight of his career. In the past, he’s complained about not being as well compensated as Georges St. Pierre, the welterweight champion he was about to fight. His chance had finally come to start earning that champion type of money, but he couldn’t bring himself to attend a couple press conferences to promote the event.
It was hardly a normal response and unprecedented for a title opportunity to be lost in that manner. Some thought he may get booted from the organization, but Diaz got off easy with a demotion to an equally exciting (though non-title) fight vs. BJ Penn in the co-main event. Still, he ducked his responsibilities, his boss, the public, and even ducked his trainer when Gracie showed up at his house to get him to the press conference.
“I talked to [UFC President] Dana [White] about this before, and I think a big problem with all of this is Nick has social anxiety,” Gracie said. “He doesn’t like to go and be away from home. He has no trouble fighting in the cage, though.
“He doesn’t feel comfortable being around people. He has a very deep ingrained social anxiety, and it’s something he probably needs help for, I think. I think that’s why he self-medicates with the marijuana. That’s my amateur opinion.”
If Diaz was seeking a second amateur opinion before getting help, I say it makes perfect sense. Two of my most trusted anonymous sources, let’s just call them Google and Wikipedia, gave me some insight into the disorder. If I carefully cherry-pick only the phrases that support my argument, I can make a great case for social anxiety disorder. Observe:
“Impaired ability to function in at least some parts of daily life.
“It exceeds normal ‘shyness’ as it leads to excessive social avoidance and substantial social or occupational impairment.
“Phobias are controlled by escape and avoidance behaviors.
“Some sufferers may use alcohol or other drugs to reduce fears and inhibitions at social events. It is common for sufferers of social phobia to self-medicate in this fashion, especially if they are undiagnosed, untreated, or both; this can lead to alcoholism, eating disorders or other kinds of substance abuse.”
Boom. That’s not Nick Diaz?
There are a variety of characters in the sport, but none with a problem quite like Diaz. The UFC nudged Chuck Liddell into retirement to save his health, support “Rampage” Jackson and others with legal trouble, and flew Lesnar to a top hospital to treat his diverticulitis. Diaz could use a friendly “this isn’t mandatory but you have to go” push toward some counseling from somebody. He needs the support of his company and some non-amateur help to reach his full potential, which is great.
“It’s not the pressure of fighting GSP,” Gracie said. “It’s the pressure of doing a news conference before the fight. Fighting is no pressure because he gets to beat someone up or get beat up.”
Tim Gilmour is a sports reporter and author of the humor blog LetMeThinkForYou.com. For more NBCSports.com MMA coverage, click here.
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