Nick Diaz may be the craziest fighter in MMA and that says a lot. Whether it is going toe to toe in a striking battle or fighting inside of a hospital room, there is never a dull moment in Diaz’s world. Here is a look back at his top five memorable fights in the cage.
Diaz is a very polarizing fighter. You either love him or hate him. I have always loved Diaz. He is fun, exciting, and probably is more honest than almost any other fighter in combat sports. Unfortunately that fire and honesty is what has both made and broke Nick Diaz yet also given fans some of the most exciting moments in MMA.
Nick Diaz vs. Takanori Gomi: This was truly a make or break fight for Diaz. Diaz had just left the UFC after a brief return and many critics were questioning his motivations. Diaz came into the fight an underdog and was expected to be something of a sacrificial lamb for the lightweight champion. Instead, Diaz pulled off a huge upset.
Diaz showed his resilience by coming back from a poor start against Gomi. Diaz recovered and picked Gomi apart up top and once again put on a show with his hands. Gomi came back in round two and started to combat Diaz’s unorthodox standup attack. Gomi took the fight to the ground and wound up tapping to a Gogoplata.
The fight handed Gomi only his fourth loss of his career at a time where Gomi considered one of the hottest MMA stars in the world. Unfortunately for Nick the decision was later declared a no contest after Diaz tested positive for marijuana. Commission chairman Tony Alamo went on to accuse Diaz of fighting intoxicated, believing that the high made him numb to any pain.
Regardless of how it turned out, the win (at least on that night) was the biggest moment of Diaz’s career.
Nick Diaz vs. BJ Penn: Diaz returned to the UFC with intentions of meeting welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre. Instead, Diaz was pitted against a former training partner and friend in BJ Penn after Diaz no-showed several press conferences. As soon as the fight was signed the friendship was out the window and the trash talking began.
What makes this such a great moment for Diaz is that he had everything on the line that night. Diaz returned to the UFC a superstar and was given a title shot right off the bat. A loss here would have derailed his title aspirations, and a decisive loss could have ended Diaz’s UFC career after all of the turmoil behind the scenes. Just like the Diaz vs. Shamrock fight, Diaz once again put out a legend.
This was a great fight, much better than people give it credit for. Penn came out strong and had a fantastic first round. Then in true Diaz fashion, he rebounded and began to pick Penn apart in the striking game. By the end Diaz battered and beat Penn so badly that Penn went into semi-retirement. Diaz won a decisive decision and put the UFC and GSP on notice.
Nick Diaz vs. KJ Noons 2: I was on the fence here with this and the Robbie Lawler fight but in the end I think this one is the way to go. Diaz tried for months to get a rematch with Noons, even going as far as to start a riot in Hawaii. He finally got his rematch and showed the world that he had really turned the corner as a fighter and went on to avenge a bitter loss.
Noons was no match for the quick hands and freakish reach of Diaz. The champion opened up early on Noons and dropped him inside of the first round. Diaz wasn’t able to finish his rival but he did earn a decisive decision. To me this really showed how far Diaz had turned the corner. To come back from such a bad loss in such a decisive way was truly impressive. It was at this point where Diaz looked simply untouchable.
Nick Diaz vs. Paul Daley: I dare anyone to watch the first round of this fight and tell me that it isn’t one of the greatest rounds of fighting in MMA history. The round featured five minutes of high drama with both fighters knocking each other down due to repeated strikes to the face and head. The fight ended with seconds to go in the round as Diaz KO’d Daley for the win.
A look back at the Compustrike stats show that both fighters landed a combined 90 strikes in the first round with 164 strikes in total being thrown. Diaz hit on 61% while Daley hit on 47%. The win was beautiful as the two laid claim to an iconic fight. It didn’t have the same prestige as beating Shamrock or Gomi but it put Diaz at a different level in the eyes of fans and critics in my opinion.
Just shortly after giving Shamrock the finger, Diaz went on to pepper Shamrock and give fans a clinic in standup striking. Diaz outclassed Shamrock for two rounds and let him know about it. Diaz kept talking trash while punching Shamrock in the face and the former UFC champion didn’t have an answer. It was truly a passing of the guard and a tremendous Strikeforce debut for Diaz.