Nick Diaz: Would have made the difference if I was allowed in Nate’s corner
The great Nate Diaz choked the tap out of Conor McGregor in their first fight at UFC 196 in March. The rematch at UFC 202 in August was a razor-thin majority decision in McGregor’s favor. Unfortunately, due to a blatant injustice, Nate’s big brother Nick was barred from being in the corner vs. McGregor.
Nick fought Anderson Silva at UFC 183 on January 31, 2015. Afterward, Silva failed a test for the performance-enhancing drugs drostanolone and androsterone; he was suspended for a year. At the same event, Nick passed highly-reliable tests for the scourge of mixed martial arts, the well-known PED demon weed marijuana. However, due to a less reliable test result, the Nevada Athletic Commission suspended Diaz for five years and fined him $165,000.
As explained by UFC drug czar Jeff Novitzky, the NAC got it wrong. Jeff Novitzky knows more about drug testing than does the NAC. He may know more about drug testing in sports than anyone alive. It’s like Rickson explaining that you’re doing an armbar wrong.
Diaz fought back legally, and the commission quietly changed the five years to 18 months, retroactively to the date of the “offense” and reduced the fine to $100,000. Diaz paid off $25,000 of it, but an unjust, offensive $75,000 remained. So the NAC banned Nick from being in Nate’s corner vs. McGregor.
Not only was he barred from the corner, Nick wasn’t allowed in the first six rows. He wasn’t allowed in the locker room. He wasn’t allowed to communicate with his brother. He wasn’t allowed to communicate with his brother’s corner. So Nate was cornered by Gil Melendez, Jake Shields, and longtime boxing coach Richard Perez.
“Just one inch, that’s the difference between how that fight could’ve gone,” said Nick on Opie Radio, as transcribed by Shaun Al-Shatti for MMA Fighting. “As far as I’m concerned, I definitely would’ve been that inch. … They just wanted to keep me out of there. They know that it would’ve definitely helped him out a lot.
“I was seeing things in that fight that I would’ve called and told him. I was seeing things that he wasn’t seeing, because I do these things and I know how they work out for me. It’s kind of like a formula, you know what I mean? And I’m like, hey look, this is what you do. Come the third and fourth round, I think if I would’ve been there, we would’ve been able to put it together and got that guy out of there.”
“The thing is, Melendez is there. The thing about Melendez is, he’s great. He’s really smart. He knows what he’s looking at. But they’re training partners, and so they’re like kinda opposites stylistically, because he’s more of a wrestler and he goes on top. So the things that Gilbert would tell him to do is more of like what Gilbert would do, and what I would tell him to do is more of what he would do.
“I’m not saying that it wasn’t helping having Gilbert there telling him to do the wrong stuff — Gilbert wasn’t necessarily telling him to do the wrong stuff, he just wasn’t going to see the things that I was seeing. So that was kinda rough. It’s hard enough to watch being there, and I’m watching on TV, I can’t do anything. … It was rough. I thought he had [McGregor] out of there, for sure, at one point in time. The third round, I guess. I was like, there’s just no way you’re coming back from that.”
“I would’ve told him not to throw punches at that dude at all, because he’s going to sit there and watch you and try to counter everything. So all you do is fake at him and flick at him and f*ck with him, and that’s how you do that. But he went out there and just, he just didn’t have it together in the first round, and I think I could’ve clicked him into the right mindset.
“Plus, me standing in front of him, fooling around with him and standing in front of him with my right hand forward — all three of us stand the same way, so he doesn’t have anybody else like that to kinda work with him, and I just think that it would’ve definitely helped out having me there a little bit.”
In the end, Nick was with a bunch of “expensive people” in the luxury box of Texas oil billionaire James Ballengee, as his little brother lost the biggest fight of his life.