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Nick Diaz, Carlos Condit fighting for UFC interim belt

February 3, 2012 | 12:48 pm

Nick Diaz, role model?

The rebel of the Ultimate Fighting Championship thinks he is.

Yes, this is the same Diaz who blew a chance to fight welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre after missing a publicity tour to help sell the bout, and the same individual who’s spoken before of using marijuana to calm the effects of Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder.

Now, due to St-Pierre's torn knee ligament, which is expected to sideline the champion until the early fall, Diaz has been reinstated to Saturday’s UFC pay-per-view main event at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, fighting Carlos Condit for the organization’s interim welterweight title.

The winner gets St-Pierre.

“I am a role model, just not in the image the public might think,” Diaz said. “But when I’m home, and people see me, working to get where I’ll be Saturday, they understand.”

Stockton’s Diaz trains in the seclusion of the lower-income Northern California town of Lodi.

His people skills may leave something to be desired, but like one of his coaches recently said on a UFC-produced preview show: “Nick does this to survive. This is his one shot. He gets frustrated because of his inability to express himself, but when he gets in that octagon, he’s a poet.”

A former Strikeforce champion, Diaz (26-7) is such a skilled boxer he was negotiating to fight former light-heavyweight title contender Jeff Lacy before signing a UFC contract. His cardio is fueled by his triathlete training.

“As you grow up, it can be hard to do some things, but when you see what you’re excelling in, you don’t want to stop doing it,” Diaz said. “As soon as I got to the gym, I found something that motivated me.”

Condit (27-5), the son of the former chief of staff to ex-New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, veered from troubled youth to grappling in Albuquerque, and has emerged to become Diaz’s most difficult test.

“This fight is going to be all over the place,” Condit said. “I know Diaz is working on his takedowns. I have to beat him by not playing into his game, working the angles, not standing right in front of him.”

Diaz has a reputation for treating opponents harshly before a fight, but maintains he doesn’t hate or want to harm anyone, as Condit has said he’ll do.

“I don’t like how Carlos Condit says he likes to hurt people, and I’ll never be tricked by these UFC camera guys into saying those things,” Diaz said. “I may not be a role model to them, but I’m not going to say I want to hit someone so hard I can watch them go to sleep. Hatred’s a strong word. I don’t hate.”

-- Lance Pugmire

Photo: Nick Diaz. Credit: Tom Casino / Strikeforce.