Try to dream up the perfect fighter. He’d be tough, self-motivated, and competitive. He’d have to be physically gifted but not so much so that he hasn’t had to work for everything he’s gotten. You’d want him to have a combination of tough good looks (in this case the product of his Mexican heritage) from countless fights, officially sanctioned or not. No tattoos and no piercings, because he’d care about his body. Maybe he’d even be a vegetarian. And no overnight success story—you’d want a guy that has persevered and come back hungrier than ever.
He’d be a local kid that grew up here and now trains here because the people he trusts are nearby. Training hard would be the norm, as would a quiet, yet self-controlled demeanor—not a lot of chatter or flash because that doesn’t win fights; hard work does. And nobody would know that better than him.
Oh, and he’d have a younger brother—not too young, just a few years—old enough to follow closely in his brother’s footsteps, but young enough to reap the benefits of learning from his big brother’s mistakes. You’d want the younger brother a tad more outgoing because, well, they’re not twins. And all that stuff about the perfect fighter, it would go for the younger brother also.
“He’s on his way!” Ernie says to me. Then half proving it and half probably not believing it himself, he shows me his phone. There it is. A text message from Nick Diaz: I’m on my way. “This is huge,” continues Ernie Rodriguez, a friend of the brothers, a salesman at Stockton’s Chase Chevrolet, and the boys’ first sponsor.
“It’s nothing for them to be here [at the gym] in the middle of the night working out, so getting them both together to talk, that’s big,” he says, as I notice an “E-ROD” stitched onto the backside of Nate’s fighting trunks. “That’s me,” he says.
Notoriously known to shy away from media attention, it takes some coaxing from Ernie to get the boys in the same place at one time. Added to that, my intention to photograph the Diaz brothers, together, in their gymnasium, seems like a bit of divine intervention.
In actuality, ‘gymnasium’ doesn’t accurately represent the School Street training center in Lodi where the Diaz brothers train. Like the boys, the facility is all simplicity, all business, all for the sole purpose of getting the job done. One part lodge and one part high school wrestling room, the floor to ceiling wood panels give way to a 40 by 40 foot matted area against the corner wall, while the other half of the room sits a full-size, official fighting ring. Previously training at a gym in Stockton, owning their own mixed martial arts (MMA) training center has always been the brothers’ goal.
Nick and Nate DiazNearly a dozen fighters are currently on the mats, partnering up and grappling various floor moves, escapes, takedowns, and holds (the dirty work of their art, where fights are more often then not finished). With Nick “on his way,” it’s younger brother Nate who’s putting the fighters through their paces. Two minutes of one-on-one combat, and a buzzer sounds. The fighters break holds and immediately partner up with someone new—no matter the size or experience. “Who’s tired?” Nate yells when the fighters are slow to switch-off after a session. “Who cares!” “20 pushups,” he yells back.
Enter Nick Diaz. Almost like the MMA gods were punching out cookie-cutter molds of young men and decided this would be the ideal model for a fighter, both boys are slim where they need to be and all muscle where you’d expect them to be. Long hyped in the media since they broke onto the fighting scene, they both wear the tentatively healed wounds of a fight for ‘every three months since they were 16’.
Inside the ring they’re all nightmare—two separate men, two separate fighters, two different levels of the sport, all bound by blood. Whether it’s their own blood or that of their opponents, MMA affords the fan plenty of both. Where wrestling and boxing both limit fighters to what’s legal and illegal in a brawl, MMA draws the line only at the most inhumane eye gougings and crotch shots. In other words, when you step into the ‘cage’ someone’s leaving on their own accord and someone might have to be carried off the floor. Pummeling opponents with a flurry of punches, kicks, attacks, and takedowns, the sport is relatively new and has become popular in recent years based on a few simple merits—it’s brutal (Nick has been bloodied so many times above the eye that he underwent a new surgery to reduce the ability for that rehealed cut to bleed), and it’s as high adrenaline as a sport can get.
Very understanding of the fact that there’s ‘life inside the ring’ and ‘life outside the ring’, this is where the similarities meet the differences. Polite but not warm, the boys seem to have a calculated amount of personality they are willing to show to a journalist. Never raising their voices above a conversational tone even amidst the thumping of workout music playing in the background, the boys offer up answers to everything I want to know and nothing extra. More important than the Q and A of understanding their training (they compete in Ironman triathlons), and what it’s like to have a brother in the same sport (‘It’s great, I get to learn from his mistakes”), our short sit-down reveals one very apparent thing—they know their goals and they’re here to accomplish them.
In a sport that’s infamous for blood and tattoos, neither Nick nor Nate sport any ink, any piercings, or body art of any kind. Fanatically focused on staying in top shape, both are vegetarians and completely organic, all the way down to their toothpaste and hair care products. “It’s gotten to the point that anyone around them for a significant amount of time begins to buy in to what they do, which includes this family,” says the boys’ mother, Melissa Diaz.
For as long as anyone can remember, Nick and Nate have done things only as they wanted to, independent of outside influence. If something didn’t appeal to them growing up, good luck getting them to do it. Drugs, tattoos, homework—say the occasional interview—nope, not interested. The result? Two competitors who have their minds made up about fighting, and they want it—bad. Just do everyone a favor, and get out of their way.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: Gracie Sports Academy, 230 School St., Lodi
Name: Nate Diaz Nick Diaz
Height: 6’0” 6’0”
Weight: 155 lbs. 170 lbs.
Birthdate: April 16, 1985 August 2, 1983
Style: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
Team: Cesar Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Cesar Gracie Jiu-Jitsu
Record: 10-4 20-7
Knockouts: 2 11
Submissions: 7 6
Drugs, tattoos, homework—say the occasional interview—nope, not interested.
Really? A stoned gogo over gomi, a weed suspension and constant bragging over how he can smoke and game the testing cycles says otherwise. You'd think the interviewer would have some idea that he was taking to the most prolific stoner in MMA.
post that cover pic please
thank you card.......
not must interest here i see..........
oh well ...... local magazine i thought it was neet
maybe all of the interest was exuded on the first thread that was made about this!
Alot of members might be watching football right now.I know I am.I`m just on the forum because it`s halftime.
gogojeffa - maybe all of the interest was exuded on the first thread that was made about this!
not really, only about 18 replies. it's a great article and i wish more people would read it.
san joaquin magazine originally had robbie lawler slated for the cover but nick showed up and said "why don't i get no love i haven't been on the cover of one magaine!"
almost 400 ppl have looked at your post. just nothing to say about the article..... cause its not a very good article.
Great pic. The writer doesn't seem too knowledgable about the Diaz bros or MMA in general though.
It was nice they tried to focus on how hard Nick & Nate work.
zunk1 - san joaquin magazine originally had robbie lawler slated for the cover but nick showed up and said "why don't i get no love i haven't been on the cover of one magaine!"
I see what you did there.
Also to the first reply: Marijuana is not a drug :)