Nick Diaz said he had no idea he was expected to be on a conference call Wednesday. The usually colorful Strikeforce welterweight was unusually reserved and opened proceedings in unusual fashion.
“Am I supposed to have something to say?” he asked.
Strikeforce held the call in preparation for Strikeforce: Miami on Jan. 30. The event will be broadcast on Showtime at 10 p.m. ET.
Diaz was clearly perturbed by many of the questions. At times, it was difficult to tell if he was telling the truth or simply playing along. When asked whether he was training harder because this is a title fight, he responded, “Yeah. I do extra pushups. I run an extra mile.”
Diaz will fight Marius Zaromskis for the vacant Strikeforce welterweight title. Also on the call: Strikeforce women’s champion Cris Cyborg and challenger Marloes Coenen.
Here are the condensed thoughts of the fighters:
Diaz (20-7-1) is a former WEC champion and went 6-4 in the UFC. He has won nine of his last 11 fights. He also beat Takanori Gomi at Pride 33, but the bout was declared no-contest after Diaz tested positive for marijuana.
On dropping back to welterweight after two bouts at higher catchweights: “I think I look the best at this weight. I feel the best. I’ve been waiting for a long time to fight at this weight class. Those last few fights were not my idea. I’ve been fighting welterweight most of my life. But I just fight who they tell me to fight.
On fighting Zaromskis: ““Why? What is this s***? I just woke up. We’re supposed to talk about what? He’s a good fighter, whatever. Anybody fighting at this level is a good fighter.”
On his recent preferences to engage in kickboxing instead of grappling: “I take the easiest direction. I’m going to do whatever it takes.”
On his noticeable lack of trash talk before this bout: “I’ve never been on a conference call with any opponent. I don’t know, dude. What?”
(Props to MMANYTT.)
Zaromskis (13-3) is the Dream Welterweight Grand Prix Champion. The Lithuanian is on a five-fight win streak and has won the last three via head kick. He answered questions via a translator.
On fighting Diaz: “Nick is a well-rounded fighter. He has strength in his boxing and grappling, all-around. As far as how the fight will go, I do not want to predict that. I have plans to handle to Diaz’ reach, but do not want to reveal them now. Of course, I prepared for Nick on the ground because nick has a superior ground game. But this is MMA not kickboxing and I always train to fight on the ground.”
On defending his Dream title: “There is no date set.”
On his spectacular head-kick finishes: “I don’t look for a high kick. When you look for something, you are the one that gets knocked out. When I see it, I take advantage if it. If it’s not there Ill use another weapon.”
On improvising (like attacking with flips) during the fight: “It’s not something I look for. I just do it. In a way it energizes me during the fight. I’m not doing it to be entertaining. I just do it to energize myself.”
The Brazilian (8-1) is the Strikeforce women’s lightweight champion. She won the title beating Gina Carano, who was easily the most recognized and celebrated female fighter in the world at the time. Santos lost her first MMA match in 2005 and has won all eight since. She answered questions via a translator
On being the new face of women’s MMA: “I was not thinking about who was the face or not in MMA when I fought Gina. She was just another opponent. Whether I am the face of women’s MMA or not now, I am training hard and leading the pack for women’s MMA.
On rumors that she would be posing for Playboy: “I was literally horrified one morning when I saw everybody knew about it. I prefer to focus on the fight. Just like anything else that women do, appearance is very important. But it will not make you win a fight. It is your talent and skill that matter the most.”
On her long-term goals: “I am already married. I want to build a family, not right now but in the future. I want to focus on fighting and holding on to her belt as long as I can. Eventually, I’d like to build a team and have students. I can’t wait to train little “Cyborgs” all over the world.”
On life after beating Carano: “Whether you are a woman or not, a belt changes any athletes’ life. Life has changed for the positive and I’m happy with it.”
On training with men: “I train only with men. I hurt the women.”
On her most difficult opponent: “I haven’t found any opponent to be very difficult. Most are quick fights. I have not come across an opponent to give me a hard time.”
As an 18-year-old in 2000, the Dutch fighter (17-3) won one of the first major MMA tournaments for women. Now 28, she is 4-1 since 2008.
On being judged by her appearance: “Women are always judged by our appearance. You see it in tennis with Anna Kournikova. It is almost like Gina is the Kournikova of MMA. One day, I hope that our level of fighting gets to the point where they will talk about the fighting instead of the beauty that you have or do not have.”
On the future of women’s MMA: “When I grew up, there was not an option for girls to fight. My goal is to never hold an office job again. It’s very important to have good ambassadors and good fighters like Gina, like Cris and hopefully like myself. Let’s be honest, I don’t’ think I am the same as Gina and Cris are, but hopefully after this fight, I will be.”
On predicting the Cyborg fight: “I am considered the underdog, but hardcore MMA fans know what I can do and what I am capable of. I don’t really care what people think. I will show it ion the cage. I don’t think it will go five rounds at all. With th type of person she is and the person I am, it will not go five rounds at all.”