Nick Diaz has his own view of what MMA should be, and with that in mind he’ll be launching a new promotion, War MMA, on Saturday in his hometown of Stockton, Calif.
Ahead of the debut event, Diaz’s attorney Jonathan Tweedale joined the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Beatdown” show to discuss rule changes, goals and more.
Tweedale on War MMA’s rules: “In the first event, what Nick’s trying to do is introduce some rule changes -- relative to the rules that many of the fans may be familiar with already -- to try to push the action a little more towards the sport as Nick envisions it. That, first of all, is in a ring versus a cage, not simply because of the dehumanizing element that some fighters have talked about, fighting in a cage, but combat sports have always happened in a ring whether we’re talking boxing, kickboxing. When did we use a cage? It’s only a subset of pro wrestling that uses a cage. Removing the cage, moving to the ring changes things in terms of takedowns, changes things in terms of how you can get up. That’s the first change.
“Removing elbows on the ground is a big deal too because that is going to require fighters, if you’re on top, you can’t just be rubbing your elbows into the guy’s face on bottom. … You’re going to have to create space, try to punch down, and that space is exactly the space the guy on bottom needs to either try to get up or work his submission game. Alternatively, the guy on top is going to need to advance his position. We’re going to expect some more action and more fighting. Those are two shifts aimed at moving the fights more towards the sort of Japanese MMA that better represents the kind of fighting that Nick wants to see in MMA.”
On other possible changes: “There are other changes as well contemplated for the future, for future events, but because this is a regulated sport here in North America, which is a good thing, any rule changes have to happen under the guidance and approval of the athletic commission. Here the changes are going to be incremental. If we have a successful event under these rules, then we can dialogue with the athletic commission about allowing maybe some other changes like, for instance, yellow cards. Probably we’re some time away from knees to the head of a grounded opponent, but there are other changes as well that need to be made.”
On making changes without actually changing rules: “There are other changes that don’t even involve a change to the rules but just involve a shift in the application of the rule. For instance, under the Unified Rules, timidity is already a foul. How often have you seen a point deduction or a warning for a guy holding his opponent on the ground and not trying to advance his position, not creating space to try to punch down? You never see it.”
On Diaz’s involvement with the promotion: “Any decision of any consequence is made by Nick, run by Nick and made by Nick. Nick has attended and participated in numerous meetings -- business meetings, meetings with the arena, meetings with sponsors, et cetera. He’s very engaged and involved in this process. He’s not out there in the media sort of hyping this, but he’s busy working on it.”
On whether Diaz will play Dana White’s role at the weigh-ins, stepping in between fighters: “We’ll see. We’ll see. That’s yet to be determined.”
On promoting shows in Northern California: “There are world-class gyms all over the area and there aren’t, in Nick’s view, enough promotions for these fighters or for the fans. He’s looking to fill that void, which is really going to serve the interest of a lot of up-and-coming fighters and established fighters, as you can see by the lineup for Saturday night.”
On the contracts they’re using with fighters: “It would be counterproductive to try to lock guys up, especially with some of the names we’re looking to get on this card. We’re trying to help them elevate to the next level in their careers. We’re not looking to pin them down in what is for now a regional show. That said, we are signing fighters under a development contract -- guys that are anywhere from debuting pros to guys who’ve had a couple of fights, so that we can kind of help them along in their careers. It’s very different from the UFC or Bellator models where they’re tying up talent and looking to develop and own these fighters that they advertise and market. This is more fighter-centered, trying to serve the interest of the fighters rather than serving the interest of the company.”
Listen to the full interview (beginning at 1:06:34). War MMA will stream live for free at NickDiazPromotions.com.