The Most Outrageous Nate Diaz Moments in and out of the Octagon

Lyle Fitzsimmons@@fitzbitzFeatured ColumnistAugust 14, 2019

The Most Outrageous Nate Diaz Moments in and out of the Octagon

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    Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

    He's baaaaaaaack.

    Just when you thought it was safe to listen to MMA clips at work with the sound turned up, a sound censor's best friend—Nate Diaz—will return to the Octagon for the first time in nearly three years when he faces Anthony Pettis at UFC 241 in Anaheim, California.

    Diaz was last seen, and heard from, back in August 2016 when he lost a razor-thin majority decision to Conor McGregor in a classic rematch after the 34-year-old upset the bratty Irishman as a late replacement five months earlier.

    He's since seen a series of potential returns either snuffed out on the negotiating table or KO'd by injury, most recently when prospective foe Dustin Poirier dropped out of a UFC 230 show with a bum hip.

    Nevertheless, Diaz remains in tip-top verbal shape, having spent time leading up to his re-emergence either discussing future matches or throwing shade at former opponents, most recently McGregor, whom he claimed ought to be embarrassed by the one-sidedness of Diaz's win compared to his own close scorecard verdict.

    "I wouldn't be able to sleep at night," Diaz told ESPN's Brett Okamoto (h/t the Daily Express). "He got smashed in his face and choked in front of everyone. He got his rematch like a spoiled little baby then came back and won a little decision that could have gone either way."

    To honor the mouthy Californian's comeback, we compiled a list of his most memorable moments—be they competitive or controversial—since reaching the elite-level MMA stage more than a decade ago.

    Enjoy the ride, and keep your hand over the speakers just in case.

What Happens in Vegas...Happens Again in Vegas

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    Video contains profanity.

    While Dana White's away, the Diaz boys will play.

    The UFC czar was in Brazil celebrating what turned out to be the late-stage throes of Ronda Rousey's octagonal relevance in August 2015, so brothers Nick and Nate took to the Las Vegas strip while escalating an ongoing feud with then-lightweight contender Khabib Nurmagomedov.

    The fun began when Khabib and Nate exchanged words backstage. Nurmagomedov's manager told MMAFighting.com that Nate then threw a punch to start a fight that ultimately sucked in several onlookers. 

    Not long after that prelim subsided, Team Diaz and Team Khabib got into it again in the "Miracle Mile" area of Planet Hollywood. That scrum allegedly started when Nick tossed a beer in Nurmagomedov's direction and ultimately saw Nate get a metal sign flung in his direction as local law enforcement got involved.

    Showing that some things never change, the two got back into it nearly four years later—in July, to be exact—and had to be separated in the crowd gathered for UFC 239.

Save a Horse, Dis a Cowboy

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    If ever a fighter is in his element at a press conference photo op, it's Nate Diaz.

    The co-main eventer went caustic in the days leading up to a UFC 141 throwdown with Donald Cerronein December 2011, knocking "Cowboy's" signature hat off his head when the two went face-to-face on stage.

    Diaz suggested the gesture was a counter to Cerrone intentionally sticking the brim of the hat into his face. Cowboy, meanwhile, dismissed it as the usual unprofessional behavior from the Californian.

    The issues between the two had started a few months earlier when Diaz slapped aside a would-be handshake at a UFC gym.

    Diaz wound up with the last laugh, winning a unanimous decision in their three-round fight.

'Bird'-Watching with Conor McGregor

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    You want to see a guy flippin' the bird, call Nate Diaz.

    You want to see bird-flippin' taken to new, er, heights, add a little Conor McGregor.

    The rivals took their respective supporters to middle-finger Valhalla in the days leading up to UFC 196 in March 2016, including a night-before weigh-in at which the fighters were separated from laying hands on each other but still managed to land a few gestures.

    Diaz was a short-notice replacement foe after Rafael dos Anjos went down with a broken foot, which meant the fight went off at an agreed-upon 170-pound weight limit. The two nearly did it for free at a press conference a few days before, then Diaz flipped McGregor off throughout a post-scales interview with UFC mic man Joe Rogan just 24 hours out.

    A night later, he pulled off the upset of the year by submitting Notorious in two rounds.

'Don't Be Scared, Homie!'

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    When it comes to controversy and the Diaz brothers, even when they're wrong...they're right.

    Though he was less than cordial in Hawaii while challenging KJ Noons to a rematch after losing his EliteXC lightweight strap, elder sibling Nick Diaz uttered the phrase that launched a thousand memes when he grabbed the mic from wrestling icon and emcee Bill Goldberg and said, "Don't be scared, homie!"

    Noons demurred, fueling the enmity between he and the Diaz duo and triggering a skirmish in which the Hawaiian's father got involved, too. Not surprisingly, it all wound up with Nate and Nick being escorted to the locker rooms with middle fingers held high.

    "The Diaz Brothers, public enemies No. 1 in Hawaii," said blow-by-blow man Mauro Ranallo on the Showtime broadcast. "Obviously, you want to send your message. But come on."

Music City Throwdown

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    Another rematch. Another rumble. Another day in the life.

    Upon entering the cage in April 2010 to suggest he and Jake Shields ought to go at it for a second time, Strikeforce middleweight wannabe Jason Miller got a bit more than he bargained for.

    Not only did Shields, still sweating after a five-round defeat of Dan Henderson live on CBS, not take kindly to the interruption, but neither did the Diaz boys.

    While Shields was whisked away by handlers, Nate and Nick entered the fray on his behalf, charging Miller and kick-starting a melee that included flailing fists, flying feet and a mortified Mauro Ranallo at the mic.

    "This is ridiculous. This is ridiculous," he said, while colleague Gus Johnson—who'd been interviewing Shields when the silliness started—repeated, "Gentlemen, we're on national television. Gentlemen, we're on national television," before the network cut away to commercial.

    The Strikeforce promotion never again had a card on CBS and was sold to UFC the following year.

    "The CBS riot changed the history of the sport and the future of the sport," Frank Shamrock told MMAFighting.com. "It ended what should have been an ongoing relationship with CBS with shows regularly in prime time. That would have taken the sport to a whole new level. That was one of the hardest days of my life, sitting there watching that happen."

Two-Fingered Triangle

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    There's a litany of material to work with, but perhaps nothing sums up the Nate Diaz experience better than his UFC Fight Night match with Kurt Pellegrino in April 2008.

    Pellegrino entered the match with street cred as a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt and a world-class wrestler, but it wound up being a highlight-reel slam that triggered his undoing.

    As Diaz was dropped onto his back, he landed in a way that easily allowed him to use his legs to encircle Pellegrino's head and cinch in a triangle-choke submission hold.

    Nevertheless, instead of using his hands to pull his foe's head further down into the choke, Diaz instead laid back in trademark glee, gave a double-bicep flex for the cameras and flipped Pellegrino a double-bird before the beaten man tapped out to cement Diaz's victory.

    If Nate's final resting place is technology-enabled, the video should play on his headstone in an endless loop.