Time and space. I needed a bit of both before I felt comfortable tackling Nick Diaz’s video interview on the Nov. 11 edition of Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show. With more than two weeks passed since that interview initially aired, I feel that now is an excellent time to address what I believe are the two biggest questions about the video. The first of those questions is, should the interview have aired? The second question is, was the video exploitative?
I believe the first thing to consider is, did the video interview have journalistic value? I think some of it did. I also think the majority of it did not. I come to this conclusion based on the fact that what aired was reportedly less than half of a two-hour discussion. When the 48-plus minutes that did see that light of day can best be described as rambling and disjointed, it makes me wonder how incoherent the excised parts of the video were.
Another concern was context. If the viewer did not have a good understanding of Diaz’s history, both inside and outside the cage, some of the things he spoke about would have been lost on them. For example, early in the interview, Diaz spoke about being pulled from a fight for not showing up to a press event. That happened when he was scheduled to fight then-UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre at UFC 137 in 2011. Another thing that could have used context were Diaz’s repeated references to his failed drug test and suspension, which happened in 2015. These were not the only items that could have used more background information.
And then there was the incident, about halfway through the video, when Diaz showed Helwani a bite mark on his arm and then went off on a tangent for a few minutes before Helwani attempted to pull him back in. That portion of the interview didn’t add anything to the discussion. It just felt awkward, weird, uncomfortable and unnecessary.
I think the one point of the interview that would have provided an opening for further probing – but went unexplored – was when Helwani asked Diaz if he was happy. Diaz’s tone changed with that question. He seemed almost melancholic when he replied.
”No,” said Diaz. “My brother (Nate) just got kicked in the face (vs. Jorge Masvidal) I’m having a really hard week.”
Maybe Helwani did take advantage of that vault door swinging open. If he did, it was edited from the video that aired.
Opinions on the video varied. Some thought what aired was the same old Nick Diaz. Others opined that something looked, felt, or sounded off about the Stockton-based fighter. I’ll hold off on remarking on that subject because that ground has already been well-trodden. What I will say is that I have always believed that dialing in on what Diaz says during his long stream of consciousness interviews can often provide deep insight into his feelings on life and the fight game. There were points in this interview where that happened, but those were far fewer than in the past. They were also less incisive.
Related: Hope Springs Eternal: The Nick Diaz Delusion
The short answer to the first question is, that I wouldn’t have run the video interview.
My reasoning for that is simple: Time.
Diaz has not fought since he faced Anderson Silva in January 2015. Here is the list of fighters who held UFC titles at that time: Fabricio Werdum (HW), Jon Jones (LHW – first title run), Chris Weidman (MW), Robbie Lawler (WW), Anthony Pettis (LW), Jose Aldo (FW), T.J. Dillashaw (BW – first title run), Demetrious Johnson (FLW), Ronda Rousey (WBW), Carla Esparza (SW). The women’s featherweight division had not been created, nor had the women’s flyweight division. The only fighter who still holds a UFC title is Jones, but he is currently in his second reign.
I’m going to assume that some viewers of the video were not MMA fans when Diaz fought Silva. They likely lack the context to a lot of what Diaz spoke about or referenced.
Now, that’s not to say I wouldn’t have run the interview. I most likely would have, but I would have done so as a written profile. That would have allowed me to remove the excess noise, add context and provide a better experience for the reader.
Which takes us to the second question, was the video interview exploitative? I believe it was.
One of the reasons I feel this way is the same reason that I wouldn’t have run the video. Lack of context. Another reason I think this way is that some of the video served no purpose. The truth is that more of the video could have and maybe should have been left on the cutting room floor.
I know journalism is not supposed to worry about presenting a figure in a good or bad light, but it should have a purpose. If that purpose was to let fans know what Nick Diaz has been up to, well, that tale could have been told more succinctly via a written profile. Would that profile have been viewed over 1 million times? No. Would that profile had generated the number of comments that the video did? No. Would that profile have told a better and clearer story than the video? 100 percent yes. In a world where clicks pay, the video was the way to go, but does that make it right that it was released? I don’t believe it does.
I’m aware that Diaz thanked Helwani after the interview aired via Instagram. That’s fine, but it does not change my opinion on the subject.
In the end, I think the video interview did a disservice to Diaz and to many who viewed it, because it assumed too much and delivered too little when it came to the entire career of Diaz.
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