Nick Diaz is about to make his comeback by fighting against Robbie Lawler in a match that has been almost two decades in the making. The pair first fought in 2004 at UFC 47 when they were both hot prospects in the sport at the very beginning of their UFC career and since then have traveled all around the world competing. Diaz is a beloved figure in the sport but he isn’t just your ordinary veteran looking to relive former glory or cash in one last paycheck before riding off into the sunset, he’s experienced some of the most devastating circumstances that any person can and that has always been his motivation to make it as a fighter.
Nick Diaz went into detail about the darkest chapter of his life and why it gives him a reason to continue fighting in an interview with MMA Fighting shortly after his suspension for marijuana use the last time he stepped into the octagon against Anderson Silva:
“I’m the only one who’s invested in a fight life. That’s why none of these other guys can ever say shit. They’re too worried about what their families and their wives and the people around them will think, so they’re too scared to speak up. That’s why I invested everything in my fight life. That’s why I come off the way I do and always have.
Every other fighter has a life on the side. I’ve never had another job. I didn’t graduate eighth grade. I could have, but I got into too many fights in middle school.
My mom and dad taught me nothing but ABCs. I was moved from school to school, put on drugs and made fun of by classmates because after being disruptive in class the teachers would always tell the other kids I was on meds and sometimes don’t take them.
That’s fucked up. You don’t know what that does to someone. I wanted to beat up everyone in class, even the girls who would say things like, ‘What’s wrong? You didn’t take your medication?’
I had to get inter-district agreements to stay in the same school because my mom would lose her house and I’d have to move in with my grandparents in Lodi.
You know what it’s like to move into a preppy Lodi school after being in a ghetto Stockton school with black and Asian kids?
They would try to get me kicked out and put me on drugs. My sixth grade class was the first school responsible for imposing all of the mandatory outfits for kids. There was no one like me there when I got in the high school. I would get in fights with kids from that same school and get kicked out of high school.
I had a really hot girlfriend and was very self-conscious about what I was wearing and couldn’t afford nice things and got in fights because her ex-boyfriend was a year older and the mascot on the football team, so the coaches would tell the football players that I was bad news and they would start shit. A lot of them were on steroids, a lot of them were Mexican gangbangers people who were on meth and getting stabbed.
Before anybody in my class made it out of high school, I was in a continuation, which I also got kicked out of because my friend Bart was also in the class and got into a big fight, which the teacher had to break up and did not want either of us in the school anymore, so I tried homeschool but that was never going to work. I was so far behind, it was never going to happen and by then I was training to be a pro fighter. My girlfriend knew it but had started dating Bart to make me jealous. He had a gun and neither of us wanted to piss him off because he would walk around with it.
Before I ever had my first pro fight, July 5, 2000, Bart had a party at his house. The night before, Stephanie had told me she loved me. After the party, I was gonna go back to her house with her brother — he was my best friend — but some friends weren’t doing well and headed to my house. So I had to go.
An hour later I got a call from her mom saying, ‘Are you with Stephanie?’ She came straight to my house to get me, took me up and down the Frontage Road on Highway 99 by my Grandma’s house next to their trailer park.
There was a wreck on the freeway. I jumped the fence and saw only one car and ambulances.
She had walked and killed herself on the freeway. The girl I loved more than anything had tried to kill herself for the third time and succeeded.
She was gonna go to college. She was an avid student and and was doing everything I couldn’t while living in a trailer park where everyone was doing dope. Meanwhile, I focused my whole high school years worried about what her and her friends would think if I lost a fight to her ex-boyfriend and football friends. I could never make attendance, hung out with the wrong people to hold my ground as a fighter and someone who I would fight for was important to me.
There was no way I was gonna go to school. I had no money, no car. I would have driven there and stopped her. After that, I was grown up. It was all over. I wasn’t a kid anymore. I won my first fight in the first round with a choke and all I could think about was her, just like when I was in school.
I would run seven miles and back to her grave just to promise her I would make it as a fighter like she knew and had told me she knew and was proud of me.”
That’s why Nick Diaz has always been a game opponent and has never truly stopped fighting. Even as he has just reached 38 and hasn’t stepped into the octagon for six and a half years, he will still bring more heart and determination into his fight than many of the young fighters who will be making their UFC debut this year. No matter where his future leads, whether that’s an extension of his UFC career, a title-run in other MMA promotions, or even a transition into boxing, Nick Diaz will never stop fighting.