Case study of an Authentic Man
When I heard Nate Diaz was retiring I knew I had to write this. I knew he has said many time more often in the past he would retire, a marketing ploy, so they’d get him back, but it is stated that his contract with the UFC legit has run out. I didn’t know how long this piece was gonna be, or specifically in which direction, but I knew that there was something in my gut, the second I heard he retired, mean, it’s Diaz, someone had to write something about him. Many have probably written a shitload about him already, but I haven’t read it, also there’s the massive hubris thinking I’d hit the mark with my specific piece.
The guttural sensation I led it incubate for a while, after jotting down the idea for this piece, then I postponed postponed postponed, and then I finished the book, HOOA, the way of Authenticity, and then I knew I had that angle, the lens through which to see Diaz. Because like he says, “There aint no real gangster anymore!!!”
To talk about Diaz there’s no denying that we have to talk about Diaz v McGregor. Like John Kavanagh, coach of McGregor says, They’re like Joker and Batman. This rivalry they have.
Honest, begs the question who’s the joker? Because they both, with all due respect for the both of them, sometimes act like The Fool (more about in Archetypes in my new book).
One of my favorite pastimes is not just the UFC fight itself, but the buildup towards it. The hype. Then the post-fight interview, they’re the best, man, haha, I’m talking when the fighter is catching his breath and Rogan teleports into sight and pushes the mic into the fighter’s face, all bloody and battered. Yet they speak! And then the real post-fight interview, where Diaz usually smokes a blunt, lol.
Diaz tires Conor out, who gets sloppy, cant do his slip and counter anymore, and reflexively shoots, Diaz takes him down, and his back, and goes for the rear naked choke and gets it and Conor taps.
Diaz gets the mic shoved in his face. Makes the power pose, like King Kong on a mountain, and says, “I’m not surprised, MFs!!”
Haha. Rogan cracks a smile, and we all feel it. This oozing vibration of Authenticity. Let’s peel the layers back a bit, from this moment.
What makes Nate Diaz Authentic?
Since I’ve laid the groundwork in my book, it’s quite nifty to use it as a diagnostic tool on everyone we can learn from, especially legendary iconoclastic fighters such as Diaz, it works perfectly.
Let’s run the Five pillars of Authenticity on Diaz:
Diaz is original. True, and incorruptible, towards his roots, where he comes from. 209, I hear him utter. So many, many times, and I’m not even an American, but I know the code now, just because of him. His code is tethered, and drilled into a literal code. Funny how that works.
When Diaz said he wasn’t surprised he speaks from the heart. Doesn’t beat around the bush. Doesn’t lie, he’s sincere asf. This is what makes him not only so authentic, but also very likable. He speaks what’s on his mind and doesn’t mince words. And it’s like Zen teachers teach their students, when you scream, scream, shout from the deepest part of your belly. Well, Diaz bellowed alright, and if you check the interview with Rogan post Diaz v McGregor 1, you’ll see a microsecond, with a microexpression of Rogan where he’s caught off guard.
Diaz has authority. Notorious for never gotten knocked out. Never. That’s a record to have, man. He’s a BJJ blackbelt, haha that is NOT easy to obtain. Get on the ground, or he takes you to the ground, like an anaconda he’s gonna try to choke you out. Great striker, heroic cardio, always pushes forward, mass volume striker, spams you, with his classic Stockton Slap (iconic move for an iconic fighter..), and wears you down, drains you, until he can get you with a finishing combo, or takes you down and chokes you out. This authority is filled in that one single moment when he said he wasn’t surprised. He’s not just all show, he can walk the talk when it’s necessary, he’s a fighter, for real.
Nate Diaz is definitely not hundred per cent sane, to say it with a euphemism. And I mean it in a good way, tbh. And this relentless drive, in real life, and also on the mats, and in the octagon made him such a feared opponent.
And to top it off, I’ve never heard him speak about religion, or faith, or something of a higher power, but there are ritualistic things Diaz does consistently, which is a form of relinquishment. Before the McGregor rematch in the year 2016 in interviews Diaz was caught saying the following: “I write it off from the beginning like, ‘I’m probably gonna get knocked out.’ Just take that and accept it. And then go in there and make it happen. When it doesn’t happen, when you come out with a win, that’s pretty exciting.”
One can say this is negative, or rather defeatist. Give it any name to be honest. But it’s about letting go. Detaching. And just uncoupling your mind from your body, your thoughts and emotions all loose. So you’re not stuck in your head ruminating, and you become empty. A vessel. And once you’re a vessel, you become a conduit for all the work you’ve put in, and you just flow and you let it all out in the ring. Now that’s an authentic expression right there.
As an enthusiast of the sport and generally BMF’s I always wondered why doesn’t Nate Diaz get knocked out, why doesn’t he go down? We can go technical about this. From a neurophysiological point of view they say that strikers (especially boxers) get actually knocked out a lot, but the severing of connection is rapid fast and they come back to consciousness almost just as fast, so it seems on the surface level they were never out cold, to begin with. Diaz has that. But I’m always digging for subsurface level reasons, really really deep philosophical reasons. And I actually found it, I think, from something his brother, another Authentic Legend btw, said along the lines of, “Where we were from, we saw people going to the ground. They were getting curb stomped. We saw people dying.”
This made it click. If you’ve seen people go down, seen people getting their heads bashed in, and dying. Holy shit, you do not want to go down. It becomes a very animalistic alarm, hidden deep inside your brain, keeping you awake every single time you think you’re going down. And this boils back to the tenet of the Way of Authenticity, where I mentioned, You have to take care of number one, aka you. No one is going to do it. It’s about self-reliance. Ego. Self confidence, awareness, but more so trust, and even deeper love. Yes, you, from the deepest part of your authentic being love yourself and there’s nothing more authentic than that, and defending it, till you’re dying breath, and if this power enables you to never go down, so be it.
A huge part of Nate Diaz is just Diaz, his last name, his family name, his family. And his Notorious brother who did wonders for MMA, the sport, but also UFC itself. That’s the Nick Diaz Army, might as well call it Nate Diaz army, but might be heresy for the hardcore fans. This is part of being true to where you come from, and that makes you authentic. Just look at his IG footage, always the same coach, always the same guy, pretty sure Nate is married and has kids, not that it matters, but he’s loyal, he’s true to them, and that’s part of his code. His whole familial and social environment is almost like a clan. And that’s what you think of when you hear his name (a big chapter in the book), or think of the character Diaz.
“Nate Diaz is so amazing that they even invented a belt for him.”
—paraphrasing Joe Rogan, talking about the BMF fight and belt, they had to invent, after Diaz called out Masvidal.
Now when I heard this one, I had to smirk. I had to. This was so classic Diaz. He always says he’s the best, and he says it with conviction. And when he fights, he puts on a helluva show. And he can fight, he can scrap, he goes through the wringer, and takes his opponents with him in his bloody frenzy. And part of that 209 bravado is calling people out, There aint no gangster no more in this bizz, the BMF belt, Masvidal.
Big business, bigger cheques.
And tbh I dont know what Diaz, or Masvidal, his track record was at the time. And frankly, I dont care. And that’s exactly the point, that’s exactly Diaz, that’s what makes him authentic and likable and such an icon. Hate him or love em, you gonna wanna tune in (Conor used to say this about himself, lol) and Diaz puts on a bleeding show. Madness.
Dana White, president of the UFC, knows how to throw a show and brought on the Rock to carry the BMF belt, just to make it all the more glam, cooler, bit too Hollywood, but these kinda stakes, this frame, this whole Universe is something that Diaz needs. It’s something he craves, he draws towards him, it’s something that he puts out in the world. Diaz is a bombastic fellow, and his spirit is unlike any other fighter, nor person, and once he starts putting out his vibe, he’s gonna attract volumes of spectacular events. Remember he called out Masvidal, then rising star. SAME way he did with Conor, right before their first fight. Dana White sees crazy, feeds the crazy, makes it happen, and we get the bread and circus (doesn’t go unnoticed how the circus always has the Clown, another name for the Jester, Fool, Joker…).
After Masvidal threw absolute bombs on Nate’s face, the ref had to stop it, because Nate was bleeding too much. Masvidal had promised to run it back after the fight. I was waiting. Still am. Guess I’ll be waiting. That’s the thing with legends, they’re there loud, they create a lot of noise, which echoes on, for quite some time. If I’d hear the fight announced today, I’d be riled up ASF, LFGGGGG.
Leon Edwards is the current Welterweight Champion of the UFC, after headshotting Kamaru Usman, who’s had an unprecedented title defense streak as the former Champion. And Nate Diaz almost had Edwards in their last fight. He almost had em. In that last round, round five, typical Diaz style and fight, Edwards all gassed out, right where Nate wants him, and then he spams em, and goes for that signature one-two from the southpaw stance and then he tags Edwards, right on the chin — and he ROCKS him. And the crowd goes wild!!!!
Haha, just shaking my head right now, smirking and thinking about that fight, that round, in disbelief somehow – but it’s Diaz after all .. – and then what Diaz always says, “If this was a street fight, with infinite rounds I’d have em. All these rounds, it’s bullshit. No rounds. Fight till we drop.” He is right, you know. It’s just that, this is the UFC, rules are rules and there were FIVE rounds for Nate to do the job, but he always peaks at the later rounds, four and five.
Nate Diaz lost that fight. What’s funny at one point you had Diaz, McGregor and Masvidal ranking up high, for most recent loss STREAKS, yet, and yet bringing in the biggest pay-per-view numbers, and now we are getting to the heart of it, the secret sauce. The game that authenticity plays. And how much money it can bring. No one can out-Masvidal Masvidal, no one McGregor, and no one, most definitely, can out-Diaz Nate “209” Diaz. Just think about it more deeply, and let it ring true, and let it hit you deep, these were losers in the ring, but winners at the bank. People know their names all over the world. They play the role they’re supposed to play. They’re most true to themselves, no one got shit on them. And they’re good at what they do, lose a fight here and there, but they still provide for their own and we remember them. These are men, and these are icons. That’s all that counts.
After the aforementioned fights Nate become a highly sought after fighter – in the same way McGregor could say “they all want the money fight with me”- Diaz could do almost the exact same. Top billings. It meant he could joke around here and there, on IG or Twitter, haha, and just say F this, I’m retired, no one is good enough for me. But all a ploy, all a ploy, but then Dana fixes him up with an insane matchup — and he comes out of hiding, and then you know UFC, and Dana don’t really have that much love for Diaz.
They matched him up with Khamzat Chimaev. That is a slugfest, bloodbath in one, in the making. Sufficed to say, pre-fight I was stoked ASF. Nate the heart of lion, fighting it out, against new meteoric rising super star champion contender Chimaev. What a potential fight. BUT, it got cancelled, and last minute sub, was no one else but Tony “El Cucuy” Ferguson, that is f epic.
These were legit two legends they were putting up against one another. What a track record these both guys have. Ferguson were it not for an insanely stacked lightweight division might’ve become champion – the fans always wanted to see the stylistic matchup between him and McGregor; before the Khabib fight happened. And Ferguson wasn’t just some chump. He brought his A-Game to the Octagon, even though he’s had serious loss streaks and damage in the past fights. It was a classic Diaz fight, too – and typical with his boxing style and forward leaning stance, bit overload the front leg, that same leg got kicked the shit out, by Tony, and Nate was bleeding from his legs. Ah yes the blood haven again, were Diaz feels most at home. It was Ferguson his leg which started bleeding, he was kicking him that much. And the rounds dragged on, and on, and on, typical Diaz stuff: taunting, smirking, running away, showing his back to the opponent, and then smacking him around, but most of all surviving, just surviving. Not that he was losing this time, maybe bit here and there on points. But that’s what he does. He wants to go for the championship rounds, R4 and R5, because that’s what Nate believes he is, a champion. He takes you to the distance, and brings you into the murky, deep deep water. Where you can’t see, and you’re tired asf, you’re bleeding, and you’re hurt, everywhere, and your energy is sapping from all over your body, then it’s spirit time, how much you got, do you go it at all, and who has the bigger badder spirit…
R4 is happens. Ferguson caves. The sheer dread of the mass spamming and volume of intensity of Diaz becomes too much. Ferguson shoots for a takedown. Mistake. Big one. Diaz takes him down to the ground, from a standing guillotine, to one on the ground. Diaz chokes Ferguson, Ferguson taps. Ref calls it, TKO and Diaz wins his last fight.
Yes, his last fight, because that’s what he announces this time in the post-fight Rogan interview. This time we are surprised. No calling out other gangsters, well he does in a way, but not in the Octagon, he claims to go to other sports or something, but he’s done for, for good this time.
Diaz makes the post-fight interview, someone asks him a question, and he waits a bit too long to answer, as if he didn’t get it. Or he truly didn’t get it, as seen often before in past interviews. But then he says something authentic asf, straight from the heart, almost like a foolish kid, and the crowd bursts into laughter. His brother and his team and his squad and his family and his coach are probably waiting for him somewhere. Somewhere there’s a rolled blunt, just waiting for some action, waiting to be lit up. And it’s in this amalgam, in this sweet intersection we think of Diaz, there still alive, very much so alive, but there in this concoction of off-kilter, yet powerful statements of being, of life, where we find a unique, unique man, and if you look to this space, you’ll always find him there.