Nick Diaz could return in 2021 and no UFC fighter will be safe from him and brother Nate’s trash talk as Conor McGregor, GSP and Robbie Lawler will tell you
As Nick Diaz might say: “Don’t be scared, homie!”
Those were the words he uttered to KJ Noons as the elder Diaz brother angled for a rematch following his loss.
Hailing from the 209 – Stockton, California – they fought in the streets and have carried that mentality with them to the octagon.
But Nick has not been seen in the cage for five years – six in January – but 2021 could be the year his UFC exile ends.
“Yeah, the guy has been training. He’s been training for at least four months now straight,” his manager Kevin Mubenga explained in December, adding that apart from a break in November, Diaz has been relentless in the gym and with trainer Cesar Gracie.
Mubenga said the money and opponent has to be right before anything progresses, but is adamant fans will see him compete again soon, insisting he is ‘99.99999 per cent’ sure it will be next year.
“We just got to get everything else right with the organisation and everything. We’ll be able to move forward. He’s been training. People want to see [it], Mubenga added.”
While some fighters accentuate their personality to try and sell pay-per-views, Nick and Nate are as authentic as they come and have never changed.
Part of their charm is their trash talk. That street bravado inside and out the octagon has become legendary.
McGregor and Nate Diaz have battled twice and despite the Irishman being the biggest pay-per-view draw in MMA history, Diaz didn’t think there was much substance to the buzz prior to their first fight, at UFC 196 in 2016.
“Who do you train with? You’ve got that little goofy mother****** with you,” he barked at McGregor before insulting his camp further.
“I have real training partners. Top 10 fighters, top 10 boxers, top 10 jiu-jitsu guys, top 10 kickboxers.
“You’re playing touch-butt with that dork in the park with the pony tail. And I’m the one who don’t got no training partners? I don’t think so. You’ve got it all figured out when you’re fighting midgets. You’ve got s***.”
When Diaz lost to Jorge Masvidal late in 2019 for the BMF belt, McGregor seemed to change his tune and admitted the rough parts of Diaz are what he loves.
“I’m looking for inspiration everywhere. Like I said, I took great motivation from watching Nate do this thing. Looking at Nate, there were many things that were inspirational about that whole performance from Nate but one of the most important things was that the very thing he said post-fight was ‘the Nick Diaz army’.
“He gave a shout-out to his brother. I hope his brother is doing well, I hope Nick is doing well. He’s a soldier of the game – of the real fight game. He gave him respect straight off the bat.
“That’s why the fans love Nate. That’s why I love and respect Nate.”
Nick fought GSP for the welterweight title in 2013, but he ended up coming up short. However, it was a fight that was meant to happen sooner, but his lack of media activity and commitment to those obligations caused UFC to pull him out. For that, Diaz had an issue with his opponent.
“The bottom line is Georges is being a little b****,” he said at the time.
“He didn’t step up and say anything when the UFC pulled me out of this fight. I understand sometimes you have to do what you’re told, but why wouldn’t you tell the media you still want to fight me?
“If I was Georges, I would want to fight the best. I would have asked for the Anderson Silva fight. I would have asked to fight the Strikeforce champ.
“But he sits there like a robot and doesn’t say anything at all, just like he’s not going to say anything about me calling him a b**** now.
“If I saw B.J. Penn walking down the street and called him a b****, we would be fighting right there on the spot.”
And it’s not just Nick with a penchant for mental manipulation in the cage. Prior to his fights with McGregor, Nate had a heated rivalry with Johnson that resulted in a victory in December 2015.
Johnson, though, freely admits Nate defeated him mentally and threw him off his game.
“It was an incredible experience, first off. Nate’s an incredible fighter,” he told MMAjunkie at the post-event news conference.
“We went in there and gave you guys exactly what everybody wanted, and that was a ‘Fight of the Night’ performance. But you really don’t know how you’re going to react until he starts doing it. He sucked me in, so congrats to him.”
Another man Nate has beaten via unanimous decision is Cerrone – a true UFC legend – in 2011. Like Johnson, he admitted Nate’s antics inside the octagon totally threw him off his game and he didn’t know how to react to it.
“The Diaz brothers have the most incredible following,” Cerrone told Joe Rogan. “Almost as incredible as the McGregor following. Like cults, it’s unbelievable.
“I’m not making excuses, but he got in my head. Absolutely. And that shouldn’t happen anymore. It was a super lesson.
“Take it back to the movies like Rex Kwon Do. You see in all the movies people say ‘don’t fight out of anger’ – they say that for a reason.
“So when I fought out of anger.. I don’t know what the f*** I was doing. I sucked that night.
“As much as he talked, I like [Nick and Nate]. Because there isn’t a front on them. What you see is what you get.
“If I were to run into the Diaz brothers out in the street, we’re f***ing throwing down and there’s no question.
“That’s just who they are. So it’s not like they put on this front and this persona that they’re big, bad and tough – that’s them, 24/7.”
This is probably the most famous bit of gamesmanship either of the brothers have ever pulled off and is one of the UFC’s most memorable moments.
Keep in mind Anderson Silva is one of, if not the greatest pound-for-pound fighter in UFC’s history, Nick decided to mock and goad him during their 2015 fight.
No one could believe their eyes when he first lay down and invited the Brazilian to mount him and then leaned against the cage and essentially giving him a free shot.
At UFC 47 in April 2004, Nick took on a ferocious challenge in Lawler. Knowing just how good Lawler was, Diaz decided to step things up in the trash-talking department that day and Joe Rogan saw it first hand sitting in the commentary booth.
The tactics resulted in a second round KO victory for Nick.
“I remember the first time I saw Nick s*** talk in a fight was with Robbie Lawler. And Robbie was dangerous, so Nick took his trash-talking to DEFCON 5.
“He gets into the octagon and the first thing he does is ‘Stockton, motherf*****! Stockton!’ and then he’s walking around, ‘Stockton, motherf*****! Stockton!’ and then Robbie is like ‘what the fuck is he talking about? What does that even mean?
“Then the whole time the fight is going he’s like ‘what, bitch? What you gonna do, bitch?’ And then he hit him and he’s like ‘Oh, bitch! I just stung you, bitch!
“And Robbie didn’t talk back to him, but you could clearly see he didn’t anticipate that.”
Like Lawler, Guida found out all about Nate’s incessant yelling during a fight, too. However, this time, Guida would actually walk away with a split decision victory. It seems Stockton is the Diaz brothers’ favourite thing to shout during a fight, but the area code will suffice, too.
Guida recalled: “He was sort of on my back near the cage and he kept yelling: ‘209, b***! 209, b***!’ and I looked up and there was like, 3:12 left on the clock. Later on I said to my coach: ‘Dude, this guy can’t even tell time. He kept yelling ‘209, b***!’
“Then he told me 209 is Stockton, California’s area code and not the time left on the clock. I had to laugh.”
This story has been saved for last because it features both of the Diaz brothers, but not inside the octagon or even in a street – but in a hospital.
In 2006, Nick took a unanimous decision loss at the hands of Riggs and when both men were getting medical check-ups afterwards, all hell broke lose and the rematch appeared to happen quick than expected.
“He started that s***, dude,” Nick explained in 2007.
“I was like, ‘Come over here then if you want some, b****. You can’t see me you f****** p****’.
“So he started walking toward me and threw his hands up so he took an ass whooping.
“I told him he was gonna get smacked if he came over. He kept saying ‘Get your brother! Get your brother!’ My brother was standing right there we could have jumped him but we’re not like that.
“I ain’t no b**** and I ain’t no punk and I don’t want to be a poor sport but I feel like I won that fight. I’m definitely better than that guy.”
In a 2013 interview with Sports Illustrated, Riggs offered his side of the story.
“He knocked half of my tooth out. I saw it flying out and all I could think about was my wedding rehearsal I had to go to.
“Thank God it turned out only to be my molar. We were in close quarters, grabbing onto each other, almost like in a clinch.
“My hands were broken, I couldn’t hit [him], so I was trying to knee him. I managed to get in some elbows. He had a gash on his hairline. His nose was bleeding.
“I get back home and the first thing I hear is that Nick knocked me out in the hospital. I couldn’t even enjoy the win. He knocked me down. I’ll give him that, but I wasn’t looking his way and didn’t expect it. He’s f***ing crazy. Who would punch somebody at a hospital? I wouldn’t.
“That guy’s nuts.”