Nick Diaz is a scapegoat

Nick Diaz, the polarizing 32-year-old UFC welterweight, has been suspended for five years in the state of Nevada for smoking marijuana.

Diaz, who is no stranger to either marijuana or controversy, has tested positive for the drug three times now. Some of his most impressive fights have been ruled as “no contests” after the fact simply because marijuana metabolites were in his system. The latest instance of this came after his fight with Anderson Silva, the former UFC middleweight champion and the fighter widely considered to be the greatest of all time. This is where it gets complicated and idiotic.

Both Silva and Diaz tested positive for banned substances following their fight, which Silva won by decision. Diaz tested positive for marijuana. Silva, however, tested positive for steroids. Both substances fall under the list of banned performance enhancing drugs (PEDS) and require punishment. Silva was suspended for one year. Diaz was suspended for five years.

Jon Jones, the former light-heavyweight champion of the UFC, was stripped of his title earlier this year after testing positive for cocaine and being involved in a hit-and-run which left a pregnant woman with a broken arm. Was he suspended for five years? No. In fact, his punishment was much tamer in comparison to Diaz’s. Marijuana, though a sensitive subject obviously, is not necessarily illegal if you have the proper credentials and documentation. Cocaine, on the other hand, is still very much an illegal drug. But Jones received the slap on the wrist for his infractions while Diaz has been all but crucified for his use of recreational drugs.

Ronda Rousey, the reigning 135lb women’s champion, has jumped to the defense of Diaz, reminding MMA fans that marijuana simply makes Diaz a happier person, while Silva was caught using a substance that made him stronger and could lead to the injury of his opponents due to his use of said substance. Does marijuana make you stronger? No, it just makes you mellow, sleepy and very, very hungry.

Now Diaz isn’t an old man, but he’s not exactly young either. The fact that he’s unable to fight in the state of Nevada until he’s 37 years of age places massive limitations on Diaz’s potential earnings, especially since Nevada is widely considered to be the fight capital of the America. According to a recent interview with Yahoo Sports, on Sept. 22, Diaz went on record saying that he’s “been hearing other states’ athletic commissions are angry about the ruling” and will hopefully I’ll be able to fight in those states.

When all is said and done, this situation has been transformed into a witch hunt, with Diaz being the one strapped to the proverbial burning stake. What we have seen from the NSAC is a childish reaction to a minor infraction. Should Diaz be punished? Yes. But should his punishment be so severe that it removes him from his calling in the prime of his life? Absolutely not.