Nick Diaz is one of the biggest superstars the sport of MMA has seen. His charismatic, no-f**ks-given attitude, brutal honesty and fearless persona makes him stand out from the rest. The Stockton-native has not competed since 2015, but remains quite relevant in the sport to date.
The former WEC and Strikeforce welterweight champion makes waves every time he is spotted at an MMA event. Nick Diaz recently made headlines when UFC president Dana White revealed he was in talks with the legend regarding his comeback.
Diaz will return to action after more than six years when he faces former UFC champion Robbie Lawler in a rematch at UFC 266. The event has fight fans hyped out of their wits, and rightly so. The massive return of one of the biggest UFC superstars is going to be historic, and is tipped to break plenty of pay-per-view records as well.
On that note, here are five reasons why Nick Diaz remains an MMA superstar.
#5. Nick Diaz vs. Anderson Silva
Nick Diaz faced one of the greatest middleweight MMA fighters and former UFC champion Anderson Silva at UFC 183 in 2015. Coming into the fight, 'The Spider' was the favorite by a considerable margin. However, it was Diaz who won hearts by proving he was scared of no one.
Diaz taunted Silva from the get-go and invited him to lay hands on him. Silva, who was coming off a one-year hiatus following a freak injury, stayed on the back foot, knowing very well what Diaz was capable of. As far as the concept of spectator sport goes, Diaz ticked every box during the fight.
Showcasing why he was one of the baddest men on the planet, Nick Diaz put on a cold exhibition of trash-talking in MMA history against Anderson Silva. Perhaps the best moment was when Diaz laid down on the octagon floor and invited the former UFC champ, who has the longest title reign in promotion history, to inflict some damage on him.
Nick Diaz put on a war, and kept landing devastating blows on Silva in most of the rounds. Although he lost at the end via a unanimous decision, he proved he was a fighter to the very core of his heart.
#4. Nick Diaz tells KJ Noons "don't be scared" before starting a brawl
KJ Noons and Nick Diaz met for the inaugural Elite XC lightweight championship in 2007. With Noons dominating Diaz with his striking and opening a cut on his face, the fight was stopped by the cage-side doctor, handing the Stockton-native a TKO loss. Seven months later, the two men found each other in the same building once again during Elite XC’s Return of the King event in Honolulu, Hawaii.
After defeating Muhsin Corbbrey on the undercard, Nick Diaz went for a chat with KJ Noons, who had defended his title against Yves Edwards moments earlier. Diaz entered the cage to challenge Noons for a rematch. With KJ Noons and the Hawaiian crowd all against the idea, Nick Diaz went a step ahead and told Noons:
"Don’t be scared, homie!"
Suddenly, Noons' father attacked Diaz, and all hell broke loose. Nick Diaz, along with his brother Nate, got into a full-fledged brawl with the Noons, and had to be separated by the officials and referees. They exited the arena with Nick Diaz flipping his middle finger to the booing crowd, and Nate Diaz following suit.
The event proved why Nick Diaz was the bad guy of the MMA community, with the announcer saying:
"Nick Diaz... again living up to his reputation as the bad boy in mixed martial arts. The Diaz brothers, public enemies no.1 in Hawaii."
Watch the incident below:
#3. Nick Diaz accused UFC president Dana White & Georges St-Pierre of selling fans "wolf tickets"
The UFC has figured out several ways to build fights and sell tickets to fans to create blockbuster MMA events. While that is the truth of the trade, Nick Diaz was perhaps the first UFC fighter to question the tactic and blast the UFC right in front of Dana White and the media.
Ahead of UFC 158, Nick Diaz called out Georges St-Pierre and UFC president Dana White for painting the former as a villain. It was one of the biggest instances of Nick Diaz being his true self.
According to Nick Diaz, the UFC was creating a rhetoric of Pierre vs Diaz as "good vs evil" to sell tickets of the mega event in Canada. In a pre-fight press conference, Diaz slammed St-Pierre, Dana White and the UFC. He said:
"You (St. Pierre) told the fans that I deserve to get beat down, that I chased you around. I got the fight, right? I'm working towards something, everybody knows that. Sorry I had to (say you were scared) to get the fight. They're selling you (fans and media) all wolf tickets people, you're eating them right up. Georges here is selling wolf tickets. Dana here is selling wolf tickets. The UFC is selling wolf tickets. You guys are eating them right up."
Apart from being a legend of the sport, St-Pierre is also known to be a successful businessman. He did admit later that some of his incendiary comments were used to promote the fight.
#2. The Nashville brawl
In 2010, Nick Diaz became part of one of the craziest brawls in MMA history. Moments after Jake Shields successfully defended his Strikeforce middleweight belt against Dan Henderson, he was interrupted by old foe Jason 'Mayhem' Miller. Miller, who had lost to Shields five months earlier, asked the champion:
"What's up? Where's my rematch buddy?"
As the two fighters started to get physical, Shields' teammates Nick Diaz, Nate Diaz and Gilbert Mendez jumped 'Mayhem'. While the Strikeforce champion was pulled away by his coach, Nick Diaz and co. continued to land strikes on Jason Miller.
Jason Miller and Nick Diaz were eventually restrained by officials, referees and Henderson's team. While the violence was widely condemned by the MMA community, Nick Diaz once again proved why he is one of the baddest men in the sport with an abundance of loyalty and fearlessness.
#1. Nick Diaz's elite-level cardio
Nick Diaz will always be known for his high-volume striking and unrelenting pace he had showcased inside the octagon. Even when he found himself against the fence, the Stockton-native was able to outwork his opponents by sustaining an incredible pace.
Thanks to years of triathlons, Nick Diaz has always had an elite level of conditioning. That, according to him, gives him a mental edge over his opponents. Regarding his conditioning and how it makes him stand out from other fighters, Diaz said:
"Fighters are afraid of conditioning, they are afraid of getting tired, but I don't want to have anxiety or be afraid of anything. I can go 100 percent out there and never have to worry about getting tired. Everybody says fighting is 90 percent mental, and it's true. Knowing you can go 15 minutes or 25 minutes without any problem can help you sustain that mental advantage over your opponent."
Another thing that differentiates Nick Diaz from other MMA fighters is the fact that he stays in shape year-round. This way, he never needed to rely solely on training camps to prepare for fights. Speaking of how triathlons helped him stay on top of his game, Nick Diaz elaborated in this regard:
"I just like to race. It gives me something to build for. During the triathlon season, I'll probably race every two weeks. I get stronger and stronger when building up to the race. After a race, a lot of people will crash and take their foot off the gas, but I'll keep building and building until I have to fight."
"I have a reason not to crash, and I try to keep the ball rolling until fight night. Doing the races keeps me in shape. By the time a fight comes around, I'm already in shape and ready to go. I don't have to get in shape for fights. When I am in the gym, I train mixed martial arts. I don't need to train to get in shape. I am already in shape."
Diaz once said that if there was big money in triathlons, he would have quit MMA, which he has been doing since he was 18