THE HISTORY OF NICK DIAZ - Spirit Combat Sports

Nick Diaz Is Back

Any long-time fan of UFC will remember Nick Diaz. Although he hasn't fought in several years, Diaz made a name for himself after his breakout win of 2004. Now, he's coming back in a highly anticipated rematch against Robbie Lawler during UFC 266. For fans who don't know all about Diaz's past, let's take a look at everything you need to know about the fighter before his return.

Life of Nick Diaz

Before he was a famous name in the UFC, Diaz had to overcome a fair share of hardships. He was born in Stockton, California, in 1983, and his mother raised him and his two siblings on her own in a one-story house. His Stockton childhood taught him to stand up for himself — the city has a relatively high crime rate, and not all of his classmates were friendly. Throughout his childhood, Diaz dealt with bullying — he started his martial arts training as a kid in hopes of fending off bullies. He began training with Cesar Gracie in Stockton. His success in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) was thanks in part to his strong cardio skills, which he developed in earlier swimming lessons.

Diaz began to earn great success as a fighter in his early 20s. He had his first professional fight in 2001. In 2004, he competed in the U.S. Purple Belt Open, and the following year, he won the Pan American Brown Belt Medium Weight Division title. A few years later, in 2007, Diaz achieved his BJJ black belt. He points out BJJ legend Renzo Gracie as an inspiration and influence.

Fighting Style

Diaz developed his personal fighting style as a teenager — he's recognized for his BJJ and submission skills. He's a powerful opponent on his back and on top. When boxing, he utilizes his long, 76-inch reach to fire shots, which haunt his opponents later in their fights. His cardio background has given him the speed, accuracy and perseverance needed in the ring — when he's not fighting, he's participating in triathlons.

There's no denying he's been one of the UFC's toughest fighters since his debut.

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Nick Diaz's UFC Debut

Diaz had his UFC debut in 2001. At 6 feet 1 inch tall and 170 pounds, he entered the UFC welterweight division. However, he didn't become a household name until 2004, when he fought in one of the UFC's most iconic matches.

Making a Name

Diaz took on the role of the underdog when he went up against Robbie Lawler in the 2004 UFC 47. Known as "Ruthless," Lawler was the rising star in the mixed martial arts (MMA) welterweight division. With his striking technique, Lawler had finished many of his opponents by knockout. Although he had only a handful of fights, Lawler had beaten former UFC fighters Tiki Ghosn and Chris Lytle. That night, Diaz stole the show. He used new striking techniques, including his now-famous open-handed "Stockton Slap," named for the fighter's hometown. He quickly dominated the fight, landing strikes and low kicks one after another. He had the advantage of a reach 2 inches longer than Lawler's, and he was also 2 inches taller. When Lawler tried to close the distance, Diaz landed a strike on his chin that knocked him to the ground. 

Referee Steve Mazzagatti called the fight at 1 minute and 31 seconds into the second round.

Nick Diaz's Career

In the years since his shocking first fight, Diaz went on to compete in the EliteXC lightweight championship and win the Strikeforce welterweight title. He has earned a place of fame in the UFC with his impressive career statistics, including 5.43 significant strikes landed per minute, 42% accuracy and 61% strike defense. His win, loss, draw record is 26-10-0. He's taken on big-name fighters like Frank Shamrock, Paul Daley and Georges St-Pierre. 

Two Fighting Brothers

Nick's younger brother, Nate Diaz, used to train with him under Cesar Gracie. Nate has also joined the UFC and makes use of his older brother's "Stockton Slap" move in the ring. The two brothers have been formidable fighters for a long time — when they were teenagers, people would show up to challenge Nick, and Nick would tell them they'd have to tap out Nate first. Both brothers are famous for taunting their opponents in and out of the ring.

Break from the UFC

Diaz hasn't fought in the UFC since 2015. He lost his last fight against Anderson Silva in UFC 183, but it was overturned to a no-contest when both fighters tested positive for illicit substances. He was then suspended from the UFC and most fans expected not to see him again.

Nick Diaz's Return

After Diaz's 6 years of inaction, he's scheduled to fight again on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021, in UFC 266. His opponent is the very fighter who first made him famous — Robbie Lawler. Lawler hasn't seen much success since losing his welterweight champion title to Tyron Woodley in 2016. He's lost five out of his last six fights, most recently against Neil Magny in 2020. Even still, Lawler has had 28 wins and 15 losses in his professional career, compared to Diaz's 26 wins and 10 losses.  

It's been 17 years since their first fight in 2004, so this rematch is all about redemption and revenge. Since fans haven't seen Diaz in action for so long, there's no telling who'll come out of the octagon as the champion.

UFC 266 will also feature the men's main event, Alexander Volkanovski against Brian Ortega, and the women's main event, Valentina Shevchenko against Lauren Murphy. The night is sure to be full of drama and surprises as long-time UFC fans eagerly await a rematch nearly two decades in the making.

Watch the Rematch

The long-anticipated rematch between Lawler and Diaz will have fans on the edges of their seats. Either Diaz will reclaim his position after 6 years away from UFC or Lawler will break his losing streak. Watch the rematch along with the UFC 266 main events on Saturday, Sept. 25, airing at 10 p.m. Eastern Time. Streaming options include the Disney+ and UFC 266 bundle or ESPN.

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