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Latest Strikeforce fight goes up in smoke

Diaz’s failure to take drug test marks third title fight to fall through for Aug. 15 show


Heather Cory

Xtreme Couture fighter Jay Hieron can’t catch a break lately. First his fight for the Aug. 1 Affliction show was canceled, now his welterweight title fight with Nick Diaz went up in smoke when Diaz failed to take a mandatory drug test.

Beyond the Sun

The show will go on for Strikeforce this Saturday night, but the headaches aren’t letting up for CEO Scott Coker and his San Jose, Calif.-based fight organization.

Popular California fighter Nick Diaz becomes the latest casualty for the Aug. 15 event showcasing the first-ever female title fight between Las Vegas’ Gina Carano and Cristiane "Cyborg" Santos at HP Pavilion in San Jose.

Diaz failed to take a California State Athletic Commission-ordered drug test on both Friday and Monday, meaning his welterweight title bout with Jay Hieron is no more.

“As far as I understand, he's supposed to be on his way to Los Angeles to take the test with the state athletic commission," Coker said on a Monday morning conference call. "On Friday he did not show up for the test, and, you know, I talked to the commission, and they said, 'OK, we'll let him come in on Monday.' So, that's what we had discussed. And as of 3 o'clock today, we'll know the situation a little bit more clearly, and we'll probably get the results back on Thursday is what they are telling me.”

At the time Coker said he had a contingency plan in place: “There’s a couple things on the plate, and it's something we'll address at the end of the day if we need to.”

Turns out that back-up plan is Jesse Taylor, who is best known for his antics on season No. 7 of “The Ultimate Fighter.”

The two-time junior college All-American wrestler — who is on a seven-fight win streak, including a big win over Dong-Sik Yoon in a June Dream event — earned a shot at the "TUF" finals against Amir Sadollah. But after a drunken episode in Las Vegas, UFC president Dana White dismissed him for disorderly conduct.

For Hieron, Diaz’s cancellation was the second fight he had collapse this month. The Xtreme Couture member was scheduled to fight at the Aug. 1 “Affliction: Trilogy” event before it was canceled.

“I can't control it,” said Hieron (17-4 MMA record), who himself was a later replacement for Joe Riggs.

“All I can do is do what I do (and) put on a show. That's all I can ask for at the end of the day. You know, everything will turn out the way it's supposed to, and I can't really stress about the situation. The good thing about it is that I've been through all this stuff before, and it helps me get through this.”

The bout becomes the third scheduled championship match to fall apart for the show airing on Showtime.

Heavyweight champ Alistair Overeem had to pull out of his title defense against Fabricio Werdum because of a hand injury. Lightweight champion Josh Thomson hadn’t received medical clearance after suffering a broken ankle in April.

It’s been widely speculated that Diaz, who allegedly holds a California medical marijuana license under the state’s Compassionate Use Act of 1996 and Medical Marijuana Program Act, would not have been able to pass the drug test.

On Monday, Diaz’s manager, Cesar Gracie, told MMA Weekly that his fighter had a deal in place with former CSAC executive officer Armando Garcia that precluded random drug testing.

“They changed it without any notification,” Gracie said. “No one had any time. The old guys were doing things based off of California law, and I knew California law didn’t change. He’s licensed … it’s legal.

“To flush it out of his system, it takes 10 days, and we don’t have that.”

William Douglas of the CSAC disputed that claim in a story by Yahoo! Sports, saying since Garcia’s departure all fighters were distributed new information about rules and testing procedures.

Diaz has run into problems with marijuana use before, having an April 2007 victory over Takanori Gomia stripped by the Nevada State Athletic Commission because high levels of the drug were found in his system. The Stockton, Calif., fighter wasn’t able to fight last March when he admitted to using the substance on a prefight questionnaire.

Diaz told the Los Angeles Times in March that he could mask his marijuana use

“I can pass a drug test in eight days with herbal cleansers,” he said before his win over Frank Shamrock.

“I drink 10 pound of water and sweat out 10 pounds of water every day.”

Despite the latest setback, Coker remained upbeat about the card, especially the energy surrounding the Carano-Cyborg fight.

“Over the years, you learn that it’s part of the game,” he said. “You don't even try to create logic behind it because sometimes there's no logic behind the thought process of, you know, what has happened or a fighter's decision or a manager's decision or just the circumstances that unfold because of circumstances."

Andy Samuelson can be reached at [email protected] or 702-948-7837.

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