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Exclusive Interview: Nick Diaz

When we last saw Nick Diaz, he was whipping Muhsin Corbbrey at EliteXC: The Return of the King, and advising KJ Noons not to be frightened. Diaz gets back into the cage this Saturday at the second installment of EliteXC’s “Saturday Night Fights” (CBS, 9 p.m. ET/PT), and while he won’t be settling his grudge with Noons, he’ll be facing the very tough Thomas Denny in front of a rabid hometown crowd at the Stockton Arena. The always outspoken Cesar Gracie-trained fighter recently chatted with us about the origins of his bad attitude, why MMA fights should be held in a ring, and why steroids should be legal.


CAGEPOTATO.COM: Are you disappointed that you’re not fighting KJ Noons on Saturday?
NICK DIAZ: Sure. I want to get that fight over and done with as soon as I can. But I gotta handle the Denny fight first, because if I don’t win it won’t look too good on my part, as far as a future fight with KJ goes. But KJ doesn’t want to fight me — he likes to pick his fights. I figure the only way he’ll fight me is if they make him do it, so I gotta be the guy in line.

Have you seen anything in Thomas Denny’s game that concerns you?
Well, everything concerns me. He’s a good fighter. But I’m ready for this type of guy. I know I train harder than him. I don’t have time to run a school and teach kids; he seems to have time to do a lot of things. It’s a lot to have on the table if you’re trying to be a professional fighter too.

The California State Athletic Commission is notorious for pulling fighters at the last minute — you went through it yourself back in March. How are you dealing with the CSAC this time so that you don’t have to experience that again?
I don’t have an issue with them. It was a big misunderstanding — the commission apologized and we’re all cool. It cost me a lot of money, but let’s get past it. I’ve forgotten about it pretty much.

So your medical marijuana card won’t be a problem this time?
No, not at all. It was never a problem before. I planned on testing clean in the last fight, and I’m going to test clean in this fight like all the other fighters, so that’s not even an issue. You get some of your freedoms screwed with, with the commission being as tight and all. But they own the shit and they run the shit. They’ve been manipulating us from the beginning. We’re not stupid, and I feel like we should stand up for our rights. If guys want to do steroids in this sport, then power to ‘em. I don’t do steroids, I’m not into chemicals or needles, it completely freaks me out. I don’t even do Advil. But if these guys want to do steroids, I would like them to do steroids.


You don’t think steroids give fighters an unfair competitive advantage?
No. You’re gonna have guys that are juiced up and going good, and then you’re gonna have guys who are coming down, toward the end of their career. These guys aren’t long-term fighters. They try to time it, and it becomes a lot more hard work for them, I think. And it takes its toll. I’ll just be around longer, fighting for longer, living a little healthier. So I think we should all be free to do whatever the hell we want. Even if you’re going in there on Novocaine and you can’t feel a thing, how long are you gonna last like that? I’ll make my comeback when you get knocked out the next fight because your legs don’t work. That’s the way I look at it. I just try to stay on the right track and I can see everybody — it’s like we’re all in a fish tank and I can see them all swimming around.

Your contract with EliteXC prevented you from fighting Mach Sakurai at DREAM.5 — do you think you’ll ever fight for DREAM again?
I really love fighting in Japan. For me, it’s the scoring criteria, and the way the rules work — it just favors a more technical fighter. You’re not gonna be able to go in there and be a strong guy and hold a guy down and win. If you go on top and try to hold a guy, they yellow card you. You can’t throw elbows on the ground. In the UFC you can hold a guy while elbowing him and it takes a lot of the technical aspect out of the sport and it becomes really frustrating for the guy on bottom. And another thing is they’re going to score the takedown. It doesn’t work anything like that in Japan — they’ve got it all worked out up there. Another thing is I can hear my corner, because the fans aren’t so out-of-control, coked out and drunk. It’s a completely different world. It’s very tranquil and peaceful for me, and I feel I can go with the warrior spirit attitude; it’s the way I always imagined it. Plus, it’s in a ring where everyone can see the show.

I hope sometime in the future EliteXC will come out with a separate organization that has the same scoring criteria and rules. Maybe they need to hire some of those guys from Japan to train them, so we can have that type of organization out here, where some of us American fighters will have the opportunity to showcase our skills to the fullest. Not to knock EliteXC — I love EliteXC, they’ve been great to me, and they’re my team. I’m fighting to represent that show.

I think the public conception of you is as this very stoic, intense person. Is that how you see yourself?
Absolutely. I take this very seriously. I do all my work in the gym; I fell behind on all the marketing aspects that go along with this sport, and a lot of the reason for that was because I was only 17 years old when I started. People don’t take that into consideration, they just point the finger at me and say “that’s the bad guy.” I was really young when I came out, and I was really on fight mode.

It was gangster shit in high school. My town is so much nicer now, and everything’s cleaned up. I wouldn’t be afraid to put my kids in the same schools [that I went to] because they’re so much better. But when I went, people were getting shot, stabbed — I got stabbed, I lost a couple friends — and it wasn’t a joke, there was a lot of fighting for no reason going on. I had a lot of anxiety and intensity when I walked around school. I got switched around a lot of schools when I was younger, so I wasn’t rollin’ with a bunch of homies when I got into high school.

I had a pretty good-looking girlfriend back then — a girl I grew up with and finally started dating in high school — and before me she’d kinda dated this sophomore, and he was in with the football team, and all the gangsters played football. And so this kid had a rich dad and he was like the coach or something, and he would talk shit and everyone would be on his side. I wanted to play football, and I never ended up playing football, I never wrestled, and that’s also why I stopped swimming. I didn’t think it was too cool to swim — I had a hot girlfriend, I wanted to play football with the rest of the cool guys. None of that worked out, and I was so lucky to find the Animal House gym in Lodi, where I met Steve Heath, who was a blue belt under Cesar Gracie. I found my direction right there and I never looked back.

Do you have to dislike someone in order to perform your best in a fight against them?
Well, if I can talk shit to them, it’s gonna make them scared, or they’re gonna fight harder, and that’s what I need you to do — go hard. I need some direction to counter. If you’re gonna be slow and scared and not move, I’m going to tell right away. If you’re gonna come 100%, I’m going to be able to tell too. It’s just the way I fight. When I fought Robbie Lawler, which was one of my first fights in the UFC, I didn’t have such a bad attitude, but I was really angry because everybody thought I was going to get knocked out. I could see it in their eyes — they were all going “you’re going to lose, you’re a jiu-jitsu guy, you shouldn’t stand with him,” and I was like “come and get me.” I’d been sparring with Rodney Jones, who was ranked #5 in the world as a boxer, and I put myself through the training I would need to beat Lawler.

He threw a few punches, and I could see them coming a mile away. It was over way early, it was a great fight, but everybody still doubted me and I had a really pissed off attitude about it. And after that, people expected it out of me. I was just a kid, I wasn’t as intellectual, and I didn’t understand what was going on, it was just a big mess to me, and I would come out and try to portray the same sort of craziness. Sometimes it would do me good, and sometimes it would screw me up. But I’ve got a lot more of a handle on it now, and I can see the big picture a lot better.

Did you happen to catch the Affliction show last Saturday?
I did.

What did you think?
I liked it because it was in a ring, but they don’t quite understand how to run it yet. Now they’re probably going to hate me and not use me in the future on account of me saying this, but they should really go and learn something from the Japanese. In PRIDE, they had those guys around the ring who’d go “no rope! no rope! no rope!” — they had a team of guys there that were on it, and helped restart and pull guys to the middle, they had a team of doctors who would jump in. It’s just a much better way. So, I saw Affliction and a couple times guys would fall through the ropes. It’s more of a cage-fight in a ring. But maybe they’ll figure it out as they go along.

I don’t feel like anybody wants to learn anything from the Japanese. A Hollywood producer came up with the Octagon. Even to this day people go “oh, you’re a cage fighter? You fight in a cage, like an animal?” Well, we could fight in a ring, there’s actually no reason why there’s a cage — but that’s showbiz, man. And that’s another reason we get a lot of shit from the boxing world. When [MMA] started we were just running around with our heads cut off and everything was crazy, so they’d see one fight or one thing they didn’t like and they’d automatically go “no I saw that, I checked it out” and they’d throw up a wall. They’d get tunnel vision after that because they see what kind of nonsense goes on. Our sport is just starting out and growing up, and I don’t think it should be in a cage. But that’s just me. If I was a strong wrestler that did steroids, though, I would hope for my fights to be in a cage where I could cram the guy against the fence, hold him down with all my strength and elbow him and not let him do any of his tricks to me.

Your brother’s next fight is against Josh Neer. I can’t figure out why he’s not being given an opponent who’s a little higher up the lightweight ladder. Does that matchup make sense to you?
Well, not that Josh Neer isn’t a good opponent, I actually think he’s one of the best they’ve got in the 155 pound class. But he doesn’t get much play, and my brother doesn’t get much play, so they’re like “alright, we’ll just take these two assholes and make them fight each other — we’ll save the Roger Huertas and the Kenny Florians.” I don’t know how they do it. It’s not right. My brother deserves to be a fucking millionaire. He trains every day, six to eight hours every day, driving and training and coming up with ideas for the next day. We should be paid like 20 dollars an hour, just like a regular job, for the day’s time, and then on top of that the bonus for the fight. It would make us feel a lot better. That’s the way it should go, because [Nate] deserves way more than what he’s getting, he’s worked really hard for what he’s already done. And if anybody else has done half as much as what he’s done, I swear that they would have benefited twice as much from it by now.

I picked up some magazines the other day, and out of four or five magazines, I’m not in a single one, except for on this one page about EliteXC. But I don’t get no love from Grappler, I don’t get no love from Tapout magazine, or Fight! magazine, none of ‘em. My brother was in one little part of one of them because they showed the winners from each season of The Ultimate Fighter, and there was a little picture of him. I’m going “what the hell, man?” My brother is fucking huge, he went on the show and represented his town, represented his team. And that’s who I’d want to see if I was a fan — guys who are exciting to watch and are actually good. They market some guys out ahead of everybody else. And that’s who people buy. Just like they buy shitty food that says “healthy” on it — something that says “South Beach Diet” and it’s full of trans fat and people think it’s diet food.

How will you celebrate after you beat Denny on Saturday?
I just signed up for the Vineman Triathalon, which is on my birthday, on August 2nd. I’m really cutting it close, but as long as I don’t bust my shit, or have any issues with my legs or hips, then I’m going to be taking a really good night’s rest after the fight, and the next day I’ll probably go out on a 13-mile run. I’ve already been biking 50, 60 miles at least four times a week. So I’m ready for the bike, and I’ve had swim practice every morning, so I’m ready for the swim. I’ll do some celebrating after that. Not hanging out in the gym all day long for two weeks or so should be a nice break.

Thanks so much, Nick. Anybody you want to shout out before we sign off?
I just want to give a shout out to the Deftones, who will be at the show in Stockton. I’m trying to get everything worked out so I can use their music. I’ve never gotten to pick my entrance music before, expect for when I fought in Japan. Of course I’d like to thank Chase Chevrolet in Stockton for always hookin’ me up, and I want to say thanks to my team, my boxing coach Richard Perez, and my brother for helping me train for this fight; I’m in better shape right now than I’ve ever been in my life, and I plan to be that way for every fight.

(Ben Goldstein)

Cagepotato Comments

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Nick DIaz- February 14, 2011 at 12:19 am
Haters gonna hate. Nick Diaz is a straight gangsta.
RAGECRAZY- July 25, 2008 at 12:23 pm
UFC fan- July 24, 2008 at 10:51 pm
Hey all you gangsters and wannabeees, throw up some stupid gang sign, and shout out a 209 or some shit so I can see and hear ya, that way you make a better target....thank you!
stanjitsu- July 24, 2008 at 1:13 pm
You guys hate on the Diaz, but most of you didn't grow up in the ghetto or even sold
oranges. With all the fakeness today, at least you get to see a real person, and a real
fighter in diaz, he is rugged , always speaks his mind, doesn't back down from any fight
and that deserves respect
UFCfan33- July 24, 2008 at 12:45 pm
Nick Diaz has done nothing but prove himself in the this sport....The web does bring out alot of courage because no of you would step to him on the streets...Yeah he is a punk, yeah he talks alot of shit, yeah he flips off the crowd and the opponents corners, so what.......Beat his ass and shut him up if you don't like it.....Nick is the reason Nate is where he is at today....and that is at the top of the 155 class....These boys are hard and want nothing but to better themselves and get respect....All I gotta say is fuck haters and good luck to both the Diaz brothers....
xupaÇabra- July 24, 2008 at 5:50 am
Yeah yeah, nick - the gangsta-porn-star.. Last time ive seen him saying 'dont be afraid hommie' ive decided to not give any little piece of my attention to this little freak.. Well.. Maybe i will.. to see how noons will give his face another few surgeries.. Anyway he can fuckin kill him i dont care... :P
The_Outlaw- July 24, 2008 at 2:09 am
Nick talks like a fighter should talk, courage that he is going to hand an ass whoopin to his opponent. The people who talk shit about Nick are people that just found out about MMA and what to act like they what they are talking about....FUCKING POSERS
FuckURacistDouche- July 23, 2008 at 10:32 pm
Yo, NickHater... What's up with your word selection? If you wanna hate on Diaz for being cocky and ignorant, that's cool. WTF is up with you calling out "SPIC?" Fuck you bigot!
ballzak- July 23, 2008 at 10:01 pm
nick and nate are both great! that rymed
BIG CHRIS- July 23, 2008 at 8:23 pm
I have always been a fan of Nick & Nate....growing up in Stockton myself I always like how they represent our hometown...I agree with Nick on the fact that The UFC needs to give Nate some real fights real soon....Quit throwing scrubs at him and let him shock the world by beating up on some of those pretty boys that can't finish fights....Guys like Tyson Griffin, Frankie Edgar, those fools will get choked out quick!!
Fedor Emelianenko instructional DVD- July 23, 2008 at 7:30 pm
Nick's bad ass, first person ever to manhandle Takanori Gomi. I'd love to see him get back to Japan for a rematch.
Boneman- July 23, 2008 at 6:38 pm
Nick is maturing....??....Nahhh, he wants to make more money, so he's trying to re-market himself..

I don't blame him...Selling Oranges on the freeway off-ramps sucks!

I think it was "Bringit" selling flowers on the other the 209 homie!!!
CJ- July 23, 2008 at 6:08 pm
I used to hate the Diaz brothers but after reading two interviews with Nick I've completely changed my mind about them.
Manaaka- July 23, 2008 at 6:05 pm
Diaz really has his mind in the right place as a fighter. His style may be a little abrasive for some but I really respect him sticking to his guns. As a fighter he is talented and I enjoy watching him fight and also enjoy his straight talk calling fighters on their inadequacies. I'm from Hawaii and I think Diaz is more a representation of the spirit and quality of a fighter from here han KJ.

Really liked his insight on the differences between Japanese and American promotions. I too think the Japanese have a better system and that the cage doesn't well represent the sport. I think the Japanese put more money behind the sporting aspect than the entertainment aspect, but is also a reason they aren't financially stable.
shitwhistle- July 23, 2008 at 5:42 pm
"Guys like him don’t win fights against guys like Nick Diaz."

Uhhhhh, he did.
Aoki's A OK- July 23, 2008 at 5:35 pm
I've followed Nick Diaz since his days with WEC (pre-UFC buyout) when every show was at an Indian casino in Lemoore and he's always been a gritty fighter with solid submission skills and heavy hands. He laid out Lawler and watched him fall like a tree! And Karo Parysian STILL holds a grudge from their fight and tried to take it out on Nate.
Both Diaz brothers follow the long tradition of the street-hardened fighter who is as intense outside the ring as inside. Boxing has always had this type of athlete -- Sonny Liston, Fernando Vargas, Mike Tyson -- and has always had a history of using them up then discarding them. Nick, to his credit, seems aware of this cycle and is just trying to secure a future for himself so he can avoid the tragic fate of Liston or Tyson. But to hate him for his thuggish antics is a mistake because I'm sure EliteXC loved every middle finger salute or "don't be scared, homey" moment.
KJ Noons is a good athlete, but there's no edge to him. There's no hunger. He grew up in Hawaii! He has a dad!
Guys like him don't win fights against guys like Nick Diaz.
Hywel Teague [Fighters Only mag]- July 23, 2008 at 4:59 pm
I guess my magazine must be the one out of five that DOES feature Nick :)
Anonymous Gweeok- July 23, 2008 at 4:54 pm
Nick Diaz still sounds like a punk. be it a more level headed punk but to say his brother deserves this he deserves this just shows how highly he thinks of himself. If he deserved so much it would come to him, but to say it himself just shows he is arrogant. This is probably the reason he will nto received anything. yea I agree the fans in the stands are probably very loud and obnoxious but they are not the only ones watching the fight. People at home do not want to see a poor sport flicking off the crowd and acting like a total jack ass. Guess what Diaz brothers if it was not for those fans you would be working some shit job instead of being able to do wht you love.

On top of saying that elbowing on the ground or being held down is not good technical fighting. Good technical fighting would not letting yoru opponent take advantage of you like that and beat the snot out of you. A good technical fighter knows your opponents strength and counters. Adapt to their style always learning. All fighters train hard for their fights unless you have personally seen your opponents training you shouldnt talk about how deserving you are because you train x amount of hours cause they are training just as hard as you. Being a good sport and humble about everything will make the crowds love you.
Aryan- July 23, 2008 at 4:40 pm
I hate rings for MMA. rings are for boxing not a sport that has ground work
wtfOMGZZ- July 23, 2008 at 4:19 pm
oh god.

i havent even read the article & im sick of him
Plain old Kevin- July 23, 2008 at 4:03 pm
Isn't 209 some kind of fucking house cleaner?!
Plain old Kevin- July 23, 2008 at 4:02 pm
Fuck Stockton and fuck the Diaz brothers if they are not already fucking each other. I am in New Brunswick, NJ. Let me know if you want my email address so we can meet and do this. Maybe we can meet somewhere in between around Fort Riley, KS where I was stationed for a few years.
Netterbog- July 23, 2008 at 3:31 pm
"Another thing is I can hear my corner, because the fans aren’t so out-of-control, coked out and drunk."

--Hilarious. He only forgot to say 'and shout "titties!" everytime a girl walks by.'
Baroni is a douche (Maybe not)- July 23, 2008 at 3:15 pm
Diaz FTW!!! This interview shows he is maturing and really growing up as a fighter. He deserves a title shot more then anyone else in Elite and I hope he gets it soon. The Bay Area supports Diaz!!!!
Aaron from alaska- July 23, 2008 at 2:53 pm
you guys hating on Nick are the same drunk guys in the crowd yelling "Titties" at the ring girls, no matter what he does/says you guys just want to hate....sad