Diaz, who is of Mexican and English descent, was born and raised in Stockton, California. Diaz attended Tokay High School in Lodi, California, for a year before dropping out. While a freshman, he was a member of the swim team. Diaz began training in karate and aikido from a young age and also participated in wrestling tournaments during his teenage years. He started training in Sambo at the age of 16 under Bulgarian National Sambo Champion Valeri Ignatov. He was promoted to black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu by Cesar Gracie on May 8, 2007. Diaz currently teaches Brazilian jiu-jitsu with his brother Nathan in Lodi, California. Both Diaz brothers are advocates for cannabis.
Diaz appears in the feature-length documentary Fight Life (2013), which chronicles the lives of mixed martial artists outside the cage; the film is directed by independent filmmaker James Z. Feng and won the Best Documentary Award at the United Film Festival.
Diaz became a professional Mixed martial arts fighter in 2001 just after his 18th birthday and won his first fight, submitting Mike Wick with a triangle choke at IFC Warriors Challenge 15. Diaz would become a champion in just his second professional fight, defeating Chris Lytle for the IFC Welterweight Championship in July 2002 at IFC Warriors Challenge 17.
Diaz was then invited to participate in Ultimate Athlete's King of the Mountain, a single-night tournament that took place two months later. He won his first two fights but eventually lost in the finals to Jeremy Jackson by TKO. Diaz would fight in Warriors Quest and Shooto against Harris "Hitman" Sarmiento and Kuniyoshi Hironaka respectively before defending his IFC Welterweight Championship and winning the WEC Welterweight Championship in 2003 at WEC 6, submitting Joe Hurley with a kimura.
Diaz returned to defend his IFC Welterweight Championship against the man who defeated him one year earlier, Jeremy Jackson at IFC Warriors Challenge 18. This bout was for Diaz' IFC United States Welterweight Championship, Jackson's IFC Americas Welterweight Championship and the vacant ISKA-MMA Americas Welterweight Championship. Diaz won the rematch via TKO in the first round. Taking notice of his success, the UFC signed Diaz over the summer and he made his debut at UFC 44, completing the trilogy against Jackson and submitting him with an armbar in the last round of a back-and-forth fight that Diaz appeared to be winning on the scorecards.
Diaz returned to the Octagon at UFC 47, set to take on highly touted future EliteXC Middleweight Champion Robbie Lawler. Lawler was a heavy favorite coming into the fight but it was Diaz who took the offensive, chasing Lawler around the cage for the majority of the bout. In the second round, Diaz taunted Lawler, who swung wildly and missed, allowing Diaz to connect with a right hook that knocked Lawler out. Diaz was then matched up with judoka Karo Parisyan at UFC 49, but ended up losing a hard-fought split decision. He rebounded with wins over submission specialist Drew Fickett at UFC 51 and Koji Oishi at UFC 53 before losing for the second time in the UFC at the hands of The Ultimate Fighter Middleweight winner Diego Sanchez at The Ultimate Fighter 2 Finale.
Diaz was confident coming into the bout but was unable to achieve success in the match, ultimately losing to Sanchez by unanimous decision. During the televised post-fight interview in the octogan, Diaz continued the controversy by declaring that he respected Sanchez fighting ability but did not think he deserved to be there, despite Sanchez's win. Diaz's next fight was against Joe Riggs at UFC 57. Similar to his treatment of Sanchez, Diaz made sure that he taunted his opponent plenty before their fight starting at the official press conference at the event in which Diaz confronted Riggs and the two exchanged words. They continued their conversation at the official weigh-ins in which both fighters had to be separated by UFC president Dana White and other officials present.
Riggs prevailed in a hard-fought battle, winning by unanimous decision and giving Diaz his second straight loss. After the fight, the two were taken to the hospital for observation and post-fight tests, where they had yet another scuffle. Diaz lost his third consecutive match in a unanimous decision to future UFC Lightweight Champion Sean Sherk at UFC 59.
Diaz returned to his hometown of Stockton and participated in the International Cage Fighting Organization's inaugural event, defeating Ray Steinbeiss by unanimous decision. Diaz was slated to fight in his hometown again against Canadian John Alessio when he received an unexpected call the night before the fight from the UFC asking to fill in for an ill Thiago Alves at UFC 62.
After Alessio pulled out, Diaz took advantage of the opportunity, submitting veteran Josh Neer in the third round. Seemingly back in the UFC, Diaz stopped Brazilian newcomer Gleison Tibau with strikes in his next fight at UFC 65. However, even after the win and the reassurance that the UFC would give him another fight, Diaz decided to sign with the Gracie Fighting Championships and leave the UFC. GFC had Diaz scheduled to fight Thomas Denny in January 2007, but due to poor ticket sales the event was ultimately scrapped.
Diaz was signed to a two-fight deal with the PRIDE Fighting Championships with the first scheduled to be against Lightweight Champion Takanori Gomi in a non-title fight on February 24 in Las Vegas. PRIDE 33 was Diaz's first fight in the PRIDE organization and at the weight of 160 lb. While Gomi started the fight strong, once knocking Diaz to the ground, and twice ending up in his guard, the Californian dominated the standup battle with his Boxing style, picking his opponent apart with quick and accurate jabs and looping punches. At the end of the first round, apparently due to poor cardio on Gomi's part, the Japanese fighter was clearly stunned, throwing much wilder punches and barely maintaining his defense. At one point though, the fight was stopped to check a cut suffered under Diaz' eye. The second stanza saw a continuation of wild punches by Gomi, then eventually taking the fight to the ground and leaving himself open to a Gogoplata submission by Diaz and tapping at 1:46 of the round. This was the second successful Gogoplata attempt in PRIDE's history (the first performed by future DREAM Lightweight Champion Shinya Aoki on Joachim Hansen less than two months earlier at PRIDE's New Year's event).
On April 10, 2007, the Nevada State Athletic Commission announced that Diaz failed the drug test that was taken shortly before his win over Gomi, testing positive for marijuana. The NSAC declared the fight a "No Contest" and suspended him for 6 months with a fine of 20% of his earnings ($3,000) won from the fight against Gomi. The Commission felt that the result of Diaz's THC test, an enormous 175, was a contributing factor in his performance during the fight. Commission Chairman Dr. Tony Alamo said that while a result of 15 is considered positive, the NSAC has a threshold of 50 for athletes. He also believes they "feel very comfortable that everyone that tests positive in Nevada is truly positive." Dr. Alamo went on to say, "Mr. Diaz was 175. This creates a unique situation. I was there at this fight and believe that you were intoxicated and... that it made you numb to the pain. Did it help you win? I think it did." Despite Diaz being surrounded by other athletes and video cameras for several hours before the fight, Alamo gave no explanation for why he believed Diaz had used marijuana in the hours preceding the event. Diaz himself dismissed the assertion that marijuana was a Performance-enhancing drug, or that he was smoking it prior to the fight.
Diaz made his debut for EliteXC in Hawaii on September 15, 2007 on Showtime. He won a hard fought split decision over his opponent Mike Aina. MMA Weekly reported that Nick Diaz signed a two-year deal with EliteXC and in his next fight, fought striking specialist KJ Noons for the vacant 160 pound title. Once the fight began, the two exchanged rather evenly on the feet until Noons dropped Diaz with a well timed right counterpunch. Diaz attempted several takedowns, all of which were stuffed by Noons, on one occasion with a swift right knee which opened up a notable gash on Diaz's face, eventually resulting in a loss via doctor stoppage due to multiple cuts on his forehead. A disappointed Diaz left the arena immediately and on his way out he flipped off the doctor from the arena entrance and shoved the camera out of his face.
After losing the Noons fight via-doctor stoppage due to a cut, Diaz had surgery and had the bone filed down on his eyebrows to prevent any bad cuts in future bouts. Diaz came into his next fight at EliteXC's "Return of the KING" event in Honolulu, Hawaii against Muhsin Corbbrey 9 pounds over the weight limit. Diaz earned a tough win over Corbbrey, following the main event an altercation between Nick and his brother Nate broke out with KJ Noons and his corner. EliteXC executives asked Diaz to come to the ring and make a statement about a possible title rematch with Noons. Noons, a native of Hawaii, asked the crowd their opinion, resulting in an echo of boos for Diaz. After Nick spoke over the microphone to Noons, saying, "don't be scared homie," Karl Noons, KJ's father, lunged at him prompting Nate Diaz to throw a water bottle at Karl. The Diaz brothers were quickly escorted out of the cage by a group of security staff. During interviews the next day Nick claimed Karl was intoxicated and overreacting. Meanwhile, Karl claimed his incident was prompted by the thrown bottle. Video replay of the event showed Nate throwing the bottle after Karl jumped at Nick. No one was injured as the Diaz brothers left the arena entrance "flipping the bird" to the fans and Noons' corner.
Nick went on to face well-traveled veteran Thomas Denny at EliteXC: Unfinished Business in Nick's hometown of Stockton, California. After a sluggish start to the fight, Diaz found his range and dominated Denny during the latter half of the first round. Diaz continued to keep the fight standing and maintained a high-paced tempo for the remainder of the fight, earning an impressive knockout victory over the veteran Denny 0:30 into round two. Diaz was rumoured to have a rematch against the current EliteXC Lightweight Champion KJ Noons, airing on CBS October 4, 2008. However, Noons and his camp refused to accept the match. Mark Dion, Noon's manager was quoted as saying, "As far as Nick Diaz, he's not the No. 1 contender out there." Diaz was scheduled to face Eddie Alvarez for the EliteXC 160 pound title on November 8, 2008 before the company ceased operations.
Diaz was victorious in DREAM 3, defeating Katsuya Inoue by TKO in the first round. With Strikeforce's acquisition of ProElite's assets, CEO Scott Coker had announced that Nick would face off against MMA legend Frank Shamrock at a Catchweight of 179 lb, at their upcoming event, Strikeforce: Shamrock vs. Diaz, in Shamrock's hometown of San Jose on April 11 at the HP Pavilion. Nick was successful in the fight, defeating Shamrock via TKO due to strikes in the second round. Throughout the fight, Diaz was dominant in all areas using effective positioning on the ground, once mounting Frank in the end of the first round, before finally finishing the fight in the second round with a body shot that crumpled Frank to the mat and follow up punches before referee John McCarthy called a halt to the bout. In the interview he stated "It's hard to hate the guy, he's been doing what I've been wanting to do and saying what I've wanted to say for a long time".
At Strikeforce: Lawler vs. Shields Diaz met the heavy-handed former UFC veteran Scott Smith at a Catchweight of 180 pounds. Although Smith took Diaz down once in the first round, Diaz controlled the majority of the bout with his superior boxing, utilizing his reach, stalking jabs and repeatedly punishing Smith with hooks to the body, twice dropping him in the second and third round. Upon landing the body shot that dropped Smith in the third round, Smith assumed a "turtle" position and Diaz took his back until securing a rear-naked choke to finish the bout at 1:41 of the final round.
It was announced that Diaz would be fighting Joe Riggs at Strikeforce: Carano vs. Cyborg taking place on August 15, in which would have been a rematch of their first fight that took place at UFC 57: Couture vs Liddell 3, in which both fighters fought in the cage and then again at the local hospital later in the evening. The fight would have been for the Strikeforce Welterweight Championship but, Riggs had to pull out of the bout due to an adverse reaction to a drug. Diaz was then scheduled to instead face former IFL Welterweight Champion Jay Hieron for the Welterweight Championship. This fight has since been canceled due to Diaz's failure to attain his license after not attending a pre-fight drug test. Jesse Taylor replaced Diaz and the title was no longer on the line, Hieron defeated Taylor by unanimous decision.
Diaz faced Strikeforce newcomer and then-DREAM Welterweight Champion Marius Žaromskis to crown the first Strikeforce Welterweight Champion on January 30, 2010 at Strikeforce: Miami. Žaromskis came out aggressively and the two men exchanged on the feet until Diaz tied his opponent up in the clinch and landed numerous knees to Žaromskis' right leg. Diaz then scored a takedown and looked for a guillotine choke – quickly shrugged off by his opponent. The two men continued to exchange, with Diaz utilizing his unorthodox boxing skills, until rocked by a Žaromskis left hook and falling to his back. Žaromskis landed few effective shots while Diaz was "turtled" on the floor, allowing him to recover and stand back up. In the few remaining minutes, Diaz opened up with his boxing range, tagging Žaromskis cleanly several times with combos composed of jabs, hooks and seamless bodyshots; forcing him against the side of the cage where he landed a solid uppercut that dropped his opponent leading to the referee to stop the contest at 4:38 of the first round. Diaz was then crowned the inaugural Strikeforce Welterweight Champion.
Diaz defeated former PRIDE veteran Hayato Sakurai by armbar submission in a non-title bout at DREAM 14. Diaz defeated KJ Noons in a rematch of their 2007 bout for the Strikeforce Welterweight Championship. Diaz won via unanimous decision (48–47, 49–47, and 49–46). Diaz defeated Brazilian Evangelista Santos who had an 18–13 MMA record going into the bout on January 29, 2011 at Strikeforce: Diaz vs. Cyborg via armbar in the second round. Diaz defeated English fighter Paul Daley at Strikeforce: Diaz vs. Daley via TKO (punches) at 4:57 of round 1, and became the first Strikeforce fighter to successfully defend the Strikeforce Welterweight Champion three consecutive times.
UFC president Dana White stated that a matchup between Diaz and UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St-Pierre was a possible consideration. Diaz and St-Pierre were rumored to be the next coaches for The Ultimate Fighter 14 reality show, but the show debuted on September 21, 2011, with Michael Bisping and Jason Miller as coaches. White later confirmed via Twitter that Diaz would face St-Pierre at UFC 137 at the Mandalay Bay Event Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, on October 29, 2011. Nick Diaz vacated his Strikeforce Welterweight Championship title prior to his bout with Georges St-Pierre. Dana White made the decision to take Diaz out of the fight and replace him with former WEC Welterweight Champion and future UFC Interim Welterweight Champion Carlos Condit, due to Diaz missing multiple flights for a press event to support the fight. It was announced that Diaz would fight B.J. Penn in the main event at his original fight card, UFC 137. Diaz won via unanimous decision. Diaz called out St. Pierre in the post-fight interview, who was scheduled to fight Condit at the same event but had been forced out of the bout with a knee injury.
Following his successful return, Diaz was expected to face Georges St-Pierre for the UFC Welterweight Championship at UFC 143 during Super Bowl weekend. However, due to an ACL injury sustained by St-Pierre, Diaz faced Carlos Condit in the main event, with the winner being awarded an Interim UFC Welterweight Championship. Condit defeated Diaz via unanimous decision. Upset with the result of the fight, Diaz indicated that he was retiring from the sport.
After the event UFC President Dana White said that he believes Diaz will fight again. Diaz was briefly linked to a rematch with Condit, but was quickly refuted when Diaz tested positive for marijuana metabolites in a post-fight drug test. The Nevada State Athletic Commission temporarily suspended Diaz shortly after the positive test, pending a full disciplinary hearing.
It was announced at the hearing in May 2012 that Diaz was suspended for one year, retroactive to February 4, 2012, and fined 30 percent of his fight purse earned from the Condit bout. Diaz was eligible to return to MMA competition in February 2013.
Diaz faced Georges St-Pierre at UFC 158 on March 16, 2013 for the UFC Welterweight Championship. He lost the fight via unanimous decision.
As of July 28, 2013, Diaz was retired from MMA competition. However, in previous interviews, Dana White has since explained that Diaz has money to relax from the GSP fight, but does expect him to return eventually.
A possible Middleweight matchup between Michael Bisping and Nick Diaz was briefly linked, but soon turned down by Diaz. At UFC on FOX 9 in Sacramento, Dana White offered Diaz a rematch with Carlos Condit; Diaz turned it down. Diaz attended UFC 170 and had told media that he would return if he could get an immediate title shot.
On July 24, 2014, it was announced that Diaz had signed a three-fight contract to return to the UFC. Diaz faced Anderson Silva on January 31, 2015 at UFC 183. He lost the fight by unanimous decision (46–49, 45–50, and 45–50). A few days after the fight, the UFC revealed that Diaz had once again failed his post-fight drug test for marijuana metabolites, and Silva tested positive on January 9 for drostanolone, androstane, oxazepem, and temazepem in pre-fight drug screening. On August 13, after several reschedules, Silva's disciplinary hearing was held to decide on the subject. Silva's defense argued that a tainted sexual enhancement supplement was the root of the two failed tests for drostanolone and also appealed to mistakes in the NSAC testing procedures, pointing to a pair of drug tests, one on Jan 19 and one after the fight, which Silva passed. He admitted to using both temazepem and oxazepem, benzodiazepines, the night prior to the fight as therapy to control stress and help him sleep. Silva's team was unable to explain the presence of androsterone in the Jan 9 test. The commission rejected the defense and suspended him for one year retroactive to the date of the fight, as the current guidelines were not in effect at the time of the failed tests. Silva was also fined his full win bonus, as well as 30% of his show money, totaling $380,000. The result was overturned to a no contest.
On September 14, 2015 the Nevada State Athletic Commission suspended Diaz for 5 years and fined him $165,000 following his failed drug test at UFC 183. Following his appeal four months later in January 2016, the suspension and fine were reduced to 18 months and $100,000. The suspension was officially lifted on August 1, 2016. Diaz had served a technical suspension due to outstanding fines with the NSAC as stipulated in his settlement claim. For this reason he was unable to corner Nate Diaz during UFC 196 and UFC 202. Diaz, according to sources, has recently reached an agreement with the Nevada Athletic Commission, which now frees him to participate in all combat sport-related activities in the state once again.
On June 22, 2013 Diaz launched the MMA promotion WAR MMA. The first event took place on June 22, 2013 in Stockton, California, headlined by Diaz' teammate Daniel Roberts against Justin Baesman.
On April 17, 2010, following Jake Shields' victory over Dan Henderson, Jason "Mayhem" Miller entered the cage, without proper approval, during Shields' post-fight interview. During that interview, Mayhem interrupted and bumped into Shields and asked "Where's my rematch, buddy?". Gilbert Melendez responded by putting a hand on Millers shoulder to tell him to back up. Miller followed this up by attempting to shove Melendez which led to Melendez shoving him backwards. Nick, his brother Nate, and the rest of the Cesar Gracie fight team rushed in and attacked Miller. Miller was thrown to the mat and beaten. The fight was eventually broken up by referees, members of Henderson's corner and the promoter's security personnel. Miller and five other participants in the brawl were each given three-month suspensions, and fines ranging between $5,000 and $7,500.
Following the events of the Nashville Brawl, Miller expressed an interest in fighting Nick Diaz. The 170 lb Diaz refused stating he was the Strikeforce Welterweight Champion and needed to continue to fight at that weight. He requested Miller move down to 170 lb to fight him. Miller continued to attempt to set up a fight, offering 183 lb as a catchweight. Diaz counter-offered a catchweight of 181 lb. Scott Coker, CEO of Strikeforce was interested in setting up the fight, but failed to do so as Zuffa took over Strikeforce.
Diaz was set to take on Braulio Estima in a grappling match at the World Jiu-Jitsu Expo on May 12, 2012. However, Diaz no-showed the event. In the hours following the event, Diaz was seen liking a YouTube video featuring Estima's reaction on Diaz's no-show, calling it "disrespectful". The day after the event Diaz alleged that Estima failed to make weight within the agreed upon timeframe prior to the fight and also alleged that the promoters of the World Jiu-Jitsu Expo failed to make good on their claims of donating proceeds from the fight to charity.
After UFC 158, Estima, who was a training partner for Georges St-Pierre, attempted to shake Diaz's hand immediately after the fight. Diaz did actually accept the handshake but shoved Estima away when he attempted to embrace him. According to Estima, Kron Gracie was antagonizing him along with Diaz.
Diaz is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt under Cesar Gracie whom he has been training with since he was a teenager. He is accomplished in both gi and no-gi jiu-jitsu. Some of the major titles he has won include the US Purple Belt Open in 2004 and a Pan-American Brown Belt Medium Weight Division title in 2005. He also owns a victory over renowned grappler Jorge Patino in competition via kneebar. He is known for having a modified BJJ style that suits his MMA career very well. Diaz lists his favorite submission as the kimura.
Diaz is also a professional boxer and fights in the Super Middleweight weight class. He made his professional debut in April 2005 against Alfonso Rocha at the Radisson Hotel in Sacramento, California. Diaz was victorious, winning by unanimous decision after four rounds. He has not fought since. Nick and Nate Diaz were trained by former WBA and WBC World Champion Luisito Espinosa and trained with Jason "Gumby" Schrumpf. He also trains in sambo with former UFC fighter Val Ignatov.
Diaz displays an unusual boxing style for MMA, relying upon volume punching without full power and occasionally adding in hard punches. CompuStrike, which tabulates statistics from MMA fights, has shown him attempting 181 strikes in one round, making it the most total strikes thrown in any round that CompuStrike has recorded.
Diaz is known for talking trash to his opponents during fights, competes in triathlons for recreation and uses his endurance to constantly put pressure on his opponent, as well as pushing the pace of the fight. Diaz has said, "Fighters are afraid of conditioning, they are afraid of getting tired, but I don’t want to have anxiety or be afraid of anything. I can go 100 percent out there and never have to worry about getting tired. Everybody says fighting is 90 percent mental, and it's true. Knowing you can go 15 minutes or 25 minutes without any problem can help you sustain that mental advantage over your opponent..." Ultimate Fighting ChampionshipFight of the Night (Two times) vs. B.J. PennSubmission of the Night (One time) vs. Josh Neer StrikeforceStrikeforce Welterweight Championship (One time; First)Most successful welterweight title defenses in Strikeforce (Three)Most consecutive welterweight title defenses in Strikeforce (Three)2010 Fight of the Year vs. KJ Noons on October 9World Extreme CagefightingWEC Welterweight Championship (One time; First)International Sport Karate AssociationISKA MMA Americas Welterweight Championship (One time)International Fighting ChampionshipIFC U.S. Welterweight Championship (One time)One successful title defenseIFC Americas Welterweight Championship (One time)Ultimate AthleteUA 4 Welterweight Tournament Runner-UpSherdog Awards2011 Round of the Year vs. Paul Daley on April 9; Round 12011 All-Violence First TeamInside Fights2007 Fight of the Year vs. Takanori Gomi on February 24US Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Open2004 Purple Belt Gold MedalistPan-American Championship Jiu JitsuPan-American Brown Belt Medium Weight Division Championship