By now you’ve probably heard all the vague rumors of Nick Diaz being forced into his fight against Robbie Lawler and not being properly prepared for the fight. Much of that may have sounded like typical post-loss excuses, but now that the specifics are coming out it’s shocking that Nick did as well against “Ruthless” as he did.
In a new interview with Submission Radio, Nick’s long-time coach and friend, Cesar Gracie, spilled the full tea, and it turns out Diaz was fighting with an extremely serious neck injury.
“So Nick, he went into that fight and his neck was pretty messed up,” Gracie said. “Robbie’s a great, tough fighter and everything. And, Nick was doing great. And then you kind of see Nick kind of just kind of fading as the fight wore on. So, Nick had an operation very recently here seven weeks ago. So, two of the discs had ruptured in his neck before the fight. So, he was having numbness of the hands. That’s why he didn’t make 170. He fought at 185 because it was impossible to train.
“He just didn’t have any strength,” Gracie continued. “He didn’t have what you’re used to, the Nick Diaz, you know, he didn’t have it. So, we finally were able to go and he got an operation and he put the titanium discs in his neck. So, he’s feeling great from that right now. And it’s like we’re getting the old Nick back, which is really good. So, now that that’s happened, we’re waiting for the doctors. He’s got another appointment I think next month. And then he should be cleared to start his hard training again. Because right now he can only run and hit the pads and everything.
“But, he definitely wants to fight,” Gracie added. “And the UFC, I’ve been in contact with them, they just actually called me the other day asking about Nick, and there’s some pretty cool fight options that are in front of us.”
Gracie went on to say that Nick was pressured into fighting at UFC 266 because he still had to pay the Nevada commission $75,000 for his 2015 marijuana suspension, plus an undisclosed amount in back taxes. While UFC was willing to pay Diaz more than his current contract stipulated, it insisted he compete at UFC 266 if he wanted the bump in money.
“I mean, he did better than I thought he was gonna do,” Gracie said. “Because literally, I can tell you, Nick’s training, before, the guy trains daily like a maniac, he runs triathlons. And I would take him to the gym and he’d do a little thing, and then goes, ‘I can’t, I can’t.’ And I never knew what was that wrong with him, you know?
“So, after the fight and everything, we kept looking for what’s going on – cause he passed his pre-fight stuff – and finally we got these MRIs on his neck, and the doctor said, ‘look, I cannot believe you just fought. You shouldn’t be walking.’ So, the UFC did on his insurance thing, whatever, they paid for his operation. He went to the same place where I think Ozzie Osborne the singer just had his neck operated on. He went to the same place of Los Angeles and got that operation.
“They took out the old discs, two of them,” Gracie continued. “They cut you in the neck right here. They go in. They pulled out the disc, they put titanium discs in. And now the bone has to fuse with that, and it’s a process. There’s been a guy, a couple of fighters actually that have that operation. Usually it’s one disc, Nick had two. So yeah, so that’s why he fought hurt, and he had his back up against the wall, and it is what it is.”
Gracie confirmed with Submission Radio that Nick was looking to get back in the Octagon and fight again in the future.
“He does enjoy competing, he does enjoy being a martial artist,” he said. “And if he can do things on his terms like that, then he loves it. And so that’s where he’s at. And so he does wanna fight again. He feels like, especially now, I think he feels like he has something to prove. For me, I don’t care if he ever fights again. Because he’s an amazing teacher, there’s all kind of stuff that he can do. But he wants to do it for him. So, that’s where we’re at.”