As for the occasion, Diaz was on a hot streak in 2005, having already beaten Drew Fickett and Koji Oishi. Next, a meeting of the main event against one of the best hopes of the sport, the winner of Ultimate Fighter, Diego Sanchez. Needless to say, two of the most intense people in the sport met, there was more than a hint of bad blood, as you will see in the story below.
Nick Diaz. 1985. Flashback.
Nick Diaz – 100% fighter
By Thomas Gerbasi
Diego Sanchez. For Nick Diaz, this name sums up everything he faces every time he enters the Octagon. There are no appearances on reality TV for the 22-year-old player from Stockton, California, no magazine covers or six-figure contracts – not yet at least. For him, combat is not a sport; it’s his only option in life. So when he says, “I have nothing else in which I am making an effort,” he means it.
This makes him a very dangerous young man.
Fortunately for him, on November 5, in the main event of the Ultimate Fighter Finale on Spike TV, Diaz was shot at Sanchez. This is a lifetime opportunity to perform before a national television audience and make a statement to the world with each punch, kick or dismantling.
However, he didn’t really see it that way; at least not when the fight was first brought to his attention.
“They tell me to fight, so I fight,” said Diaz, when asked what he thought of the fight against the “Nightmare.” “But I was like ‘dude, that sucks really because it’s good for him and bad for me.'”
What he means is that by defeating Diego Sanchez this Saturday, he defeated a fighter that many fans of mixed martial arts will say he was cast into the spotlight too soon. He lost and he lost to a fighter who only caused a sensation on the national scene earlier this year, then he dropped to the bottom of the welterweight title contenders list. At the end of the day, Diaz’s goal is to wear a championship belt. He doesn’t think beating Sanchez brings him closer to that goal.
“The thing with this fight is that people come up to me and say, ‘Yeah, you’re really going to have good exposure for this one,’ and this and that, but I’m looking to climb up the rankings and fight for a title, “he said. “I don’t think it really helps me do it.”
But at the very least, fighting Sanchez motivates him, doesn’t it?
“It really is,” he admits. “I don’t like Diego Sanchez either and I don’t want to lose to this guy. I knew that I would probably end up fighting him sooner or later, but I thought it would be later in my career or after he fought with more people and was ranked above me. “
At this stage in the development of the sport, in the end, a fight is a fight, and a pay day is a pay day, and the UFC shots don’t come every month. Add national television exposure to the mix, and it’s a Corelone-style offering no fighter can refuse. Diaz accepts this, and he comes to fight. As for his opponent, he thinks that Sanchez’s brilliant record was built with a lot of smoke and mirrors.
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“He has a Matt Hughes style but it is not Matt Hughes,” said Diaz de Sanchez. “That’s all there is to it. He’s a good jiu-jitsu guy who beat a lot of good people in jiu-jitsu, and I think that’s the best thing about him – his jiu-jitsu game. I watched a lot of the things he did and I saw some of the people he beat, and it was pretty impressive. He was on the show and basically he has a lot of experience. He has almost 20 wins and he has beaten good people in jiu-jitsu, but he has fought in a heavier weight category – which means slower and dumber guys – or has fought guys with no record easy to beat, or guys with a lot of tattoos and dyed hair. He beat a lot of these guys and it just built his record. The thing is, I don’t think that he fought anyone really good in combat. They put him in this series with all those other guys who feared – they were terrible. (Josh ) Koscheck was the best guy and it was just because he was the best wrestler. “
How do you really feel, Nick?
But even if Diaz doesn’t shoot when he talks about his 170-pound peers, his fire comes from a place that few of us would like to see. It is someone who, when he completes his tax forms each year, can simply strike out “professional athlete” next to the profession and insert the word “fighter”. Now that’s what everyone in the sport does – they fight – but few live it like Diaz, who while growing up in California had little luxury or even positive reinforcement from coaches or family daily. In other words, he came hard, and when he says it’s his only option – he thinks so. For him, it’s the difference between being an athlete and being a fighter.
“My best way to say it is that most good athletes are just that – good athletes,” he says. “They were brought up as athletes; someone pushed, encouraged, coached them – whether they were playing soccer, swimming, boxing or wrestling. It takes a lot of money and positive encouragement. These are things that people like me don’t get. It does not work like that. “
“All the athleticism I have is because of me,” says Diaz. “I didn’t even have a father around. I didn’t have a father to put me in a wrestling camp, and I didn’t have aunts and uncles who came to help me. My mom, she works for 25 years at the Lyon restaurant in Lodi. She took me to swimming when I was younger. For some reason, she stuck me in swimming, and I would try to run and cut training, and she’d take me back to training just to do something. ”
Admitting that he “was still screwing up” at school, Diaz still stuck with swimming for a while, enough that when he started fighting soon after his 18th birthday, he had developed an advantage over his opponents.
“From swimming, I had good cardio, good wind – just enough that when I fought I was a little ahead of people; I was in better shape, ”he said.
It wasn’t just all the roses.
“It was not that easy, especially at the start,” admits Diaz. “I fought all the tough guys and I didn’t have ten people to train, train and feed. I had to start by learning how to eat well, on my own without anyone telling me how or by reading books. I learned just by training so hard and feeling like garbage when you do the wrong thing. ”
Debut in 2001 with a submission victory over Mike Wick in an IFC show, the star of the team Cesar Gracie quickly built a reputation not only for his jiu-jitsu, but also for his will to get rid. An 11-3 MMA record has been the result so far, with wins over Robbie Lawler, Drew Fickett and Chris Lytle overshadowing three close (and sometimes controversial) defeats against Jeremy Jackson (later avenged twice), Kuniyoshi Hironaka and in August 2004. to Karo Parisyan.
“I hate having three defeats under my belt,” said Diaz. “One who robbed me in Japan (Hironaka). The other one, I came back and beat the guy twice (Jackson). (In Jackson’s fight) I didn’t know anything about him and I had already fought two people that night before I fought this guy. So it’s been two defeats right there, and Karo Parisyan’s fight, I beat him and I lost the fight again. Let’s go.”
He is a fighter who speaks. Sure, it’s great for etiquette and sportsmanship to just walk away from a loss by shaking hands with your opponent and saying that he was the best man that night, but for some , admitting defeat is the first step to accepting it. Nick Diaz will never accept defeat – and he brings this mantra with him to the Octagon.
“I just think in my head that the guy I am fighting has been easy,” he said. “They haven’t been where I have been and they’re not as crazy as I am and that’s how it is. You just aren’t. I know you are not. I know that. This is how I think. I know you are not trying to get out of this hellish hole. You are just trying to be the best you can be. I’m going to come out of my hellhole and I’m going to beat you. “
Then he stops, just a moment, before speaking again.
“It’s the difference between me and a regular type of athlete.”
Needless to say, this is what Diego Sanchez will face this Saturday night.
“It’s me and that’s what I do,” said Diaz. “I have no back-up plan like the rest of these people. If Diego Sanchez starts to really hurt about it, and he goes ahead and leaves, he’s going to have something else to do. He’ll go back to school or do something. Let me tell you that I am not going back to school. “
He warmed up before the bell even rang, the two having to be separated in the assembly area while waiting to walk to the Octagon. And once the fight started, hostilities continued for 15 minutes, Sanchez having left with a unanimous victory that was not as unilateral as the scores would show 30-27. It was top level MMA and no fighter would have to hang their heads after such a fight, but that was no consolation for Diaz.