Frank Shamrock retired after his 2009 encounter with Diaz. | Photo: Sherdog.com
Strikeforce “Shamrock vs. Diaz”
April 11, 2009 -- San Jose, Calif.
While Diaz’s fight with Frank Shamrock did not bring with it the unpredictability of many other moments in his career, it produced an unlikely result. Diaz, who broke into Bay Area MMA as a teen-ager, when Shamrock was the king, handed him a loss in the final fight of his storied career.
Diaz kicked off the hype for his fight with Shamrock by flipping off the former Strikeforce and UFC champion. Shamrock had knocked out Diaz’s mentor, Gracie, and it was played up as a grudge match. However, during and after the fight, Diaz showed Shamrock respect. Diaz’s striking was simply too much for Shamrock to withstand, and the veteran succumbed to a second-round technical knockout at the HP Pavilion.
After the fight, Diaz again expressed his respect for his opponent before Shamrock retired. It was a surprising turn from the often disrespectful but always authentic Diaz.
April 17, 2010 -- Nashville, Tenn.
Some eyebrows were raised when UFC President Dana White announced Nate Diaz and Jim Miller will fight on Fox in May. It certainly was not because Diaz-Miller made for a bad matchup. However, the Diaz Brothers are not necessarily custom-made for network television, and the last time they appeared on the stage was not coincidentally also the last time CBS ever broadcast MMA.
After Jake Shields defeated Dan Henderson to retain the Strikeforce middleweight title, he was interviewed about his win over the two-time Olympian. Jason “Mayhem” Miller, the next likely challenger, decided to get in the cage to say a few words to promote a potential rematch between the two. That proved to be a mistake. Shields was flanked by stablemates Gilbert Melendez and the Diaz Brothers. None took too kindly to Miller interrupting their friend’s victory parade.
Within seconds, the melee was on. The Diaz Brothers were in the middle of it, kicking and punching Miller repeatedly. It was not a scene CBS wanted to see, and it never brought back Strikeforce. Not that Nick Diaz cared much: he had sent a loud-and-clear message to someone who had disrespected a training partner and friend.
Strikeforce “Diaz vs. Daley”
April 9, 2011 -- San Diego
When Diaz and Daley did not touch gloves and began taunting one another at the start of the fight, it was a harbinger of what was to come. Daley got the best of Diaz first, flooring him and nearly finishing it with punches on the ground.
Diaz worked his way back up to his feet, and the pendulum swung wildly. Diaz began peppering Daley with shots, forcing the Brit to shoot for a desperation takedown.
Moments later, a recuperated Daley returned to his feet and again started to get the best of the standup exchanges. Diaz went down, and Daley pounded him with punches and elbows. At the point Diaz began to recover, Daley backed off. Back on his feet, the tide again swung in Diaz’s favor. He knocked down Daley and, this time, was finally able to finish the fight with strikes. Only three seconds were left in the round.
Diaz-Daley was a reminder that even Diaz’s craziest moments outside the cage struggle to compete with the excitement he brings inside of it.
Sept. 7, 2011 -- Las Vegas
UFC President Dana White is typically forgiving of fighter transgressions. So when he announced on Sept. 7 that Diaz had been yanked from a blockbuster welterweight title showdown with Georges St. Pierre and that he might never again fight for the UFC, it spoke loudly to how frustrated he was with the controversial California fighter.
Diaz has never much cared for doing press, and his discomfort with doing interviews often becomes painfully obvious. Of course, there are a lot of fighters who dislike doing interviews but still do them. When Diaz skipped a pair of pre-fight press conferences to promote his fight with St. Pierre at UFC 137, a fed-up White removed him from the main event. It was an unprecedented turn of events in UFC history, and the fighting world was abuzz when the decision came down.
As it turned out, White’s leniency still came back to the fore. Diaz returned to the show in a fight against B.J. Penn, which wound up as the headliner when St. Pierre injured himself in training. Now, Diaz will fighting for a UFC title again, albeit an interim crown, and a bout with St. Pierre later in the year could be the biggest UFC pay-per-view event in years. Fans may volunteer to shuttle Diaz to the airport to ensure the fight goes on.
UFC 137 “Penn vs. Diaz”
Oct. 29, 2011 -- Las Vegas
Some critics suggested Diaz would not fare well returning to the UFC for the first time in five years. He had fought against subpar opposition and would struggle when put in with the UFC’s elite, they claimed. Those critics were quickly silenced when Diaz gave B.J. Penn one of the worst beatings of his career over the course of three rounds in Las Vegas. Penn fought gamely but could not handle Diaz’s pressure attack. With that, Diaz announced loudly his presence in the UFC welterweight division.
Diaz followed up his “Fight of the Night” performance against Penn with one of the most bizarre post-fight press conferences in UFC history. A dour Diaz seemed to have little excitement about winning a main event against a legend or being granted a title shot in his next fight. Rather, in an almost stream-of-consciousness series of remarks, he complained about everything from a lack of training partners to a referee’s decision in a Shields-Jake Ellenberger bout that had taken place six weeks earlier.
The coup de grace was a rant about going jogging through nice areas with fountains and picnic patios and then having to return to his neighborhood, where people were getting robbed. Diaz sounded vaguely like 1990s hip hop character The Madd Rapper, but he made it clear he was not joking. It was just another night in the career of one of the sport’s most unique figures: a transcendent fight performance followed by a surreal post-fight spectacle. Diaz is nothing if not entertaining.