UFC: The Diaz Brothers' Greatest Hits
Few people in the sport are as capable as the boys from Stockton, California, are at getting their name out there and gaining some attention for a fight (or for not fighting, for that matter) or for wild stories about things that happen away from the cage.
With both brothers presently in states of semi-retirement, now is as good a time as any to look back over the past decade of Diaz and ponder some of the brothers' greatest hits in the sport.
Nick: The Post-Fight Hospital Brawl with Joe Riggs
In the days before the UFC was trying to carefully manicure itself into a competitor to the NFL somehow, things were a little different. Wilder, if you will.
Nothing illustrates that idea better than when Nick Diaz assaulted Joe Riggs in a hospital after the two spent 15 minutes together in the Octagon in February 2006. The story goes that Riggs and Diaz crossed paths, talked some trash and began to slug it out after Riggs reminded Diaz he'd just won their in-cage encounter.
"He's f-----g crazy," said Riggs to Sports Illustrated years later. "Who would punch somebody at a hospital? I wouldn't. That guy's nuts."
This story definitely lends credence to the "realness" of the brothers that so many fans seem to enjoy.
Nate: The TUF Dustup with Karo Parisyan
"Do you know who I am, bro?"
Though it's not a direct quote, they are still words that will live in infamy in the MMA sphere—a distillation of a moment in time when the sport was right for all the wrong reasons. Speak them, and any MMA fan will be immediately on the same page with you.
In 2007 Karo Parisyan was a serious welterweight contender who had a win over Nick Diaz and was helping out on The Ultimate Fighter 5. It just so happened that Nick's brother Nate was competing on the show and wasn't exactly known for his cool head when it came to confrontation.
The two got heated in one of the more memorable exchanges the show ever produced, and the world got to see firsthand that the younger Diaz was a chip off the old block.
It's a feud that never really cooled after, even though Parisyan faded to obscurity and Diaz found a dozen other guys to feud with in the years that followed.
Interlude: The Brothers Go Biking
Not all the work the Diaz brothers do is in the cage. It's actually not even all relevant to fighting.
OK, well it kind of ends up in fighting.
Enjoy a day out with the boys as they do a little biking...and talk about a time Nick got in a fight.
Nick: Fighting Takanori Gomi (and Talking About It Later in a Hotel Lobby)
Everything about Nick Diaz fighting Takanori Gomi is iconic. Everything.
Diaz dropped down in weight to fight then-PRIDE champion Gomi, producing one of the greatest wars the sport had ever seen and earning a spectacular win at PRIDE 33 in Las Vegas. That was a big deal at the time, as many felt Gomi was among the best mixed martial artists alive.
From there Diaz gave one of the best interviews in the history of sports—not just his sport—a stream-of-consciousness, expletive-laden rant from behind oversized sunglasses that ran for upward of 10 minutes from a hotel lobby.
The cherry on top? As only Diaz can, the win was sabotaged by a positive test for marijuana and overturned to a no-contest.
(Video above contains NSFW language)
Nate: Winning The Ultimate Fighter 5
Just as much fun in the cage as outside of it, Nate was the first of the Diaz brothers to win any decoration of consequence for actual combat. In 2007 he beat Manny Gamburyan (Karo Parisyan's cousin, oddly enough) to win The Ultimate Fighter 5 and begin a lengthy career as a top UFC lightweight.
Winning the season was no joke, as the teams were full of impactful UFC names like Joe Lauzon, Gray Maynard, Cole Miller and Matt Wiman. It was also coached by legends BJ Penn and Jens Pulver, lightweight stars who were tasked with developing talent for the promotion's 155-pound class, which had lain dormant since 2003.
All in all it was a great accomplishment for Nate, one that set him up for a stellar run in the promotion.
Nick: Everything About Fighting Frank Shamrock
In 2009 Nick got the chance to fight another legend, agreeing to a 179-pound catchweight bout with Frank Shamrock for his Strikeforce debut.
The lead-up to the bout was fit for a legend of Shamrock's standing, with Diaz talking trash and flipping him off in one of the most memorable press-conference images in the history of the sport. From there the implications against an opponent's manhood that would become a Diaz trademark were hurled about at the weigh-in, where the fighters had to be separated before the whole thing exploded.
The fight itself was also enjoyable, largely because Diaz worked Shamrock over for two rounds before wilting him with body shots and landing a win. It was a passing of the torch, one that even Diaz was respectful of.
Within a year Diaz would be the promotion's welterweight champion, a title that he never lost.
Nate: Marching to a Lightweight Title Shot
After an uneven four-fight run at welterweight, Nate dropped back to lightweight and started something of a tear. He'd always been fairly successful in the division, but his revamped approach after spending time against bigger opponents helped him reach the next level.
He utterly demolished Takanori Gomi, perhaps in more convincing fashion than his brother did, and then went on to romp both Donald Cerrone and Jim Miller to earn a crack at Benson Henderson's UFC title.
It was a fight he'd lose convincingly, but the streak he put together to earn it was the best he ever looked and was as good as anyone has looked while winning three in a row to claim a title shot.
Interlude: These Things Happen in MMA
Strikeforce: Nashville was memorable for plenty of reasons. However, it's safe to say that, if you're reading this and remember it, you don't think of the Gegard Mousasi illegal upkick that cost him an erroneous point in a loss.
Nope, you're probably thinking of The Brawl.
It involved the Diaz lads, "Mayhem" Miller and the moment MMA on CBS officially died.
What is there to say? These things happen in MMA.
Nick: The Paul Daley Fight
In his third Strikeforce title defense in 2011, many felt that Nick would take his game to the mat with explosive striker Paul Daley. Almost anyone in the world would have approached it that way, particularly if they had the skill of Diaz on the ground and any interest in self-preservation at all.
Luckily for fight fans, Diaz didn't see it that way. He decided to fight fire with fire, turning the Daley bout into total carnage. The two men slugged each other all over the cage, each one knocking the other down and nearly landing the win on multiple occasions.
Then, in the dying seconds, Diaz landed a shot that put Daley to the canvas for good, and he followed up with a few more on the ground to finish the fight. It was an instant classic and a fight that many would argue to be the best one-rounder in MMA history.
Nate: Exorcising the Gray Maynard Demons
Late in 2013 Nate was eyeing an evening of catching up with pals from high school when the UFC came calling. The promotion was asking him to abandon his high school reunion to fight Gray Maynard, a man against whom he was 1-1 and had no fond feelings toward.
It was a tough ask, one that Diaz didn't agree to easily, but he eventually got on board. He would settle the trilogy instead of spending the night in his old high school gymnasium.
The two first met on TUF5, where Diaz won via guillotine choke. Then in 2010 Maynard earned a narrow split decision. When they met this time, there was no doubt who the better man was.
Diaz beat Maynard from pillar to post, hurting him badly several times before finishing him on the feet to a rare standing TKO, after which Maynard clumsily stumbled to the mat. The battle was over, the war was over, and Diaz had his revenge.
It was among the most meaningful wins of his career. The post-fight interview wasn't bad either.
Nick: GSP, Penn, Condit, Retirement, GSP, Retirement...?
Nick's return to the UFC was very, uh, Diaz.
Leaving Strikeforce on the Daley win with as much enthusiasm and momentum around him as he'd ever had, he was lined up to fight Georges St-Pierre for the UFC welterweight title.
Except, because Diaz is gonna be Diaz, he skipped a press conference and got pulled from the title shot. A bunch of crazy talk and card shuffling resulted in him fighting BJ Penn on the card and then lining up with Carlos Condit a few months later thanks to a GSP knee injury.
Condit won, prompting Diaz to hit the sport with the first retirement/suspension perhaps in its history. He retired in the cage, citing terrible judging as his reason, and then later was suspended, citing love of marijuana for the reason.
His retirement/suspension ended at UFC 158, when he finally got the St-Pierre fight and suffered a dreadfully uninspiring decision loss to the champion. He did, however, push the pay-per-view near a million buys with his willingness to say anything that came into his head, from imagery of friends being shot on the streets of Stockton to GSP being "pampered up" thanks to his millions of dollars.
It was an insane 18 months or so, capped off by one of the most remarkable pieces of fight promotion that MMA has ever seen, especially for a fight that almost no one thought was either deserved or likely to be competitive.
Diaz retired again after that fight, presumably thanks to the Scrooge McDuck vault of money it made him. He's recently admitted he'd come back for the right price and the right opponent, putting him in a semi-retired purgatory and leaving his fans to eagerly anticipate his return.
Nate: The Great Holdout of 2014
After teammate Gilbert Melendez made a dump truck full of cash off the UFC and brother Nick had some success hardballing the promotion for a year or so, Nate decided it was time for him to break a little off as well.
One problem: He had already signed a new contract, had plenty of fights left on it, and the UFC was happy enough to wait him out.
The result was Diaz giving some amusing interviews and tirades but speaking words that were for naught. The UFC wasn't going to give in, and there wasn't anything he could do about it.
Though his crusade to get paid more was noble enough and is kind of still ongoing since he hasn't been booked for a fight yet, it's coming to a close. In a fashion only a Diaz can, Nate came totally out of nowhere to demand a fight with Matt Brown, a streaking brawler nearing the top five in another weight class.
The reason? "I'm trying to fight the baddest motherf--kers out there. I'm not trying to fight some lame ass fighter that they're trying to build off of me," he told MMA Fighting. "My brother is retired. So if this guy wants to fight a Diaz, he's got to fight me."