The Diaz Bros..The Stockton Bad Boys..The Skrap Pak..whatever moniker by which you choose to identify these once-in-a-generation fighters, Nick and Nate Diaz have made quite a splash in the MMA world as of late.
However, for those gracing the Diaz Brothers’ bandwagon with their presence since this recent burst of fame, there may be a bit of history with the Norther California Cesar Gracie Jiu-jitsu fighters that one is not yet aware of and must take into account in order to truly understand who these two warriors are.
After all, they didn’t just magically up and appear at the top of the UFC’s cast of characters overnight. So buckle up, sit back and read along while we take a little ride through the rich history of two of the UFC’s most intriguing fighters. Stockton, motherf*cker.
The Rise…Part 1
As the story goes for most people, unless you’re Scarlett Johansson in Lucy, the Diaz brothers started out as fresh-faced, inexperienced, but ambitious fighters. They built their names and gained notoriety in the NoCal MMA scene throughout the early 2000’s, participating in unsanctioned, bare-knuckle bouts and joining the Gracie Jiu-jitsu Academy to learn the craft under Cesar Gracie.
As both Nick and Nate continued to build on their natural boxing skills under coach Richard Perez, they added what would later be realized as world-class Jiu-jitsu chops to their games, priming both Diaz brothers for the notorious UFC careers they would both come to forge.
And forge them they did. In September 2003, Nick Diaz made his UFC debut, submitting Jeremy Jackson by armbar in the third round at UFC 44 and following that up with a second round KO of a young Robbie Lawler at UFC 47 in April 2004. These two wins set in motion one of the most infamous careers in UFC (and MMA) history.
Not to be outdone by his older brother, Nate Diaz made his UFC debut during the fifth season of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) in 2007. Craftily slicing his way through the competition under the tutelage of coach Jens Pulver, Nate defeated the likes of Rob Emerson, Gray Maynard and finally, Manny Gamburyan to win the TUF 5 Finale and gain his long-awaited official entrance into the UFC. Once under contract, Nate set off on a journey that would soon be noted as one of the most interesting careers the UFC has ever witnessed.
But as with all stories, the main characters experience somewhat of a windfall, and the Diaz brothers were no different.
Every good story has controversy, and the Diaz Bros were happy to provide plenty of it during their time in the Octagon.
After a blistering start to his UFC career, Nate’s record slowly began to be peppered with both controversial and lackluster losses.
It began with what seemed like apathetic decision losses to Gray Maynard and Clay Guida, and reached a low point with his knockout loss to Josh “The Real Punk” Thomson and subsequent unspirited defeat by current lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos. After these crushing blows to his record, Nate was all but written off by UFC fans and media.
Nick had a similar dip in his career trajectory. After racking up four wins in his first five UFC fights, he went on a three-fight losing streak, suffering three unanimous decision losses to Diego Sanchez (TUF 2 Finale), Joe Riggs and Sean Sherk. To top it off, in 2011, Nick no-showed a UFC 137 press conference, evoking the wrath of UFC President Dana White, who stripped him of his title shot at Georges St. Pierre, leaving UFC fans and media to wonder if his time fighting for the promotion was coming to an end.
As we now know, this was not the case, because in 2012, after an 11-fight win streak, Nick dropped a unanimous decision loss to Carlos Condit at UFC 143 for the interim welterweight title followed by a unanimous decision loss to Georges St. Pierre at UFC 158 in 2013. After nearly two years off, in January 2015, Nick fought Anderson Silva in a lackluster performance marked with his signature taunting, and seven months later was suspended for five years after failing his UFC 183 drug test for marijuana.
All seemed lost in the Diaz Brothers’ world after Nick’s suspension and Nate’s loss to RDA, but as we would come to find out, it would take much, much more to keep these two warriors out of the sport they loved.
The Rise…Part 2
After falling into hard times, the Diaz brothers quickly found a silver lining in their plight.
Nate hit the road (on his bike), got into arguably the best shape of his life and put on clinic performances in a lopsided decision victory over Michael “The Menace” Johnson followed by a thrilling submission victory over UFC superstar Conor McGregor at UFC 196. After years of flying under the radar, even though he was a top lightweight for almost ten years, Nate finally burst onto the flourishing MMA “mainstream” scene in 2015, gaining the notoriety and fame he deserved for so long.
The win over McGregor seemed to put him on the map once and for all, and Nate is now being paid the big bucks that he deserves. Maybe his disposition was a bit too “anti-establishment” and “anti-authority” for White’s taste, but the fans and media have spoken, and Nate is finally enjoying his newfound (but long-deserved) fame.
As for the elder Diaz brother, Nick has seen his career rise from the proverbial ashes as well. In January 2016, after a petition to have his suspension lifted reached the White House, Nick’s penalty was reduced to one year and he is now eligible to return to the Octagon in August 2016. Sufficed to say, his brother Nate’s newfound stardom should help launch Nick back into the limelight, and if all goes well, we’ll most likely see him back in some superfights and title shots. Lord knows we all would love to see a rematch with champ Robbie Lawler, assuming he gets past his next opponent, who is likely Tyron Woodley.
So, like any good tale, we’ve seen the Diaz brothers reach a peak in their respective careers, suffer downfalls that would likely deter most fighters from making a comeback, and defy the odds to turn things around and mount incredible resurgences back to the top of the sport where they belong.
We know how physically tough the Diaz brothers are, but this story truly proves the mental fortitude that both brothers possess which has motored them along in their careers to give us fans one hell of a ride, through the tough times and the good.
And hopefully, it’s a common agreement amongst MMA fans that we can’t wait to see what’s in store in the next chapter of The Saga of the Diaz Brothers.
I know I’ll be watching, will you?