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Most agree that the mixed martial arts world was far more interesting with Nick Diaz playing an active and vocal role in it.
Shaped by a difficult upbringing in Stockton, California, Diaz arrived on the MMA scene on Aug. 31, 2001, less than a month after he celebrated his 18th birthday and mere weeks before the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States. The Cesar Gracie protégé went on to capture titles in multiple organizations and enjoyed two stints in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, all with a unique style and genuine renegade spirit. Diaz has fallen of the radar since his most recent appearance inside the cage on in January 2015. Nevertheless, his cult following remains as strong as ever, buoyed by his unforgettable performances against Paul Daley, Takanori Gomi, Robbie Lawler and others.
With Diaz’s fighting future uncertain, here are five things you might not know about him:
1. He was never a choir boy.
Diaz claims to have gotten his family evicted on multiple occasions during his formative years. “My dad wasn’t around to smack the s--- out of me,” he said in a 2007 interview with Real Fighter magazine. “We’d get kicked out of houses because I was so destructive. I’d break s---. I’d throw knives at walls. I’d play with fire. I used to play with hairspray and a [expletive] lighter. The next thing we knew, the landlord would be like, ‘What the [expletive]? You’ve got dogs? You’re not allowed to have dogs.’”
2. His resume features some noteworthy introductions.
The Californian was the first welterweight champion in the World Extreme Cagefighting and Strikeforce promotions. Diaz captured the inaugural WEC title on March 27, 2003, when he submitted Joe Hurley with a first-round kimura at WEC 6. He later laid claim to the inaugural Strikeforce championship, as he put away Marius Zaromskis with first-round punches on Jan. 30, 2010.
3. He holds his own against elite competition.
Diaz owns a 3-2 record against former UFC champions. His losses to Sean Sherk and Georges St. Pierre were offset by victories over Robbie Lawler, Frank Shamrock and B.J. Penn. The Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt’s UFC 183 encounter with Anderson Silva resulted in a no contest after both men were flagged in post-fight drug screens—Diaz for marijuana and “The Spider” for anabolic steroids.
4. His skills are in high demand.
An accurate volume puncher, menacing competitor and lethal grappler, Diaz has competed in 11 different organizations as a professional mixed martial artist: the UFC, WEC, Strikeforce, Dream, EliteXC, Pride Fighting Championships, International Cage Fighting Organization, International Fighting Championship, Shooto, Warriors Quest and Ultimate Athlete.
5. He learned from his missteps.
Diaz owns a perfect 3-0 record in rematches. He suffered his first professional defeat to Jeremy Jackson in 2002, then defeated him in two subsequent confrontations. Diaz also lost to K.J. Noons in 2007, then avenged the setback in their sequel a little less than three years later.
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