"I'm not even the same person for a fight. I come to realize that. What you see out there and what you see from day to day is completely different. And I get a lot of...people give me a lot of shit about my attitude and the way that I act and I'm like, "Hey, I gotta do what I gotta do." I think I have the right mentality and a lot of people are not cool with that. They think that I got all of these crazy reasons behind it, but I think that I'm the only one thinking logically about my whole situation that I'm in. And that's why I wear the expression on my face when I think about the real shit that I'm in. It's like what I'm telling you right now is not a situation that I'm out of, but I'm going through it still...I gotta take what I can get and I'm not getting much to work with. I pretty much...it's all me, my team, and my fans. We're not coming from a commercial academy or anybody else's idea. This is all me. I started training in fighting and it was me against the world and it still is," stated former Strikeforce welterweight champion and top UFC welterweight contender Nick Diaz, who shared his thoughts on a number subjects, including his dominant victory over BJ Penn at UFC 137, the current state of mixed martial arts, his highly anticipated showdown with UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre at UFC 143, and much more. You don't want to miss what he had to say. Check it out!
PC: Congratulations on your win over BJ Penn.
ND: Yeah, thank you!
PC: You are one of your toughest critics obviously, because you didn't seem too pleased with your performance. Why was that?
ND: You know, I wasn't pleased with the performance. I was going through a lot of...I was going through it, you know what I'm saying?
ND: I was just going through a lot of...at first, it was like I had to take the hard road, and I was just going through it, man. I think that things could have worked out a lot smoother and a lot better for me. I didn't expect to be 100% and I didn't come out 100%. I think I was around 60 or low 70% of my ability in that fight against Penn. That's what I meant when I said I wasn't too pleased.
PC: I spoke to Richard Perez, your boxing coach, and he said you had to take it easy on sparring partners and you weren't able to go 100% on them, so I can see why you're saying you felt as if you were 60 to 70% because that was probably about as hard as you can go on those guys.
ND: That had a lot to do with it too. That was on top of everything, and that wasn't even the main problem. I had a lot of stuff going on that built up after so long. I have been just kind of doing what I gotta do to try to get to 100%, no matter what the cost; no matter what I had to do to make it happen, I had to do that, so I do it. After a while in life, you start to fall short of everything that comes together to make your life work, and that's what I was dealing with, you know, I was just going through it. It was just tough because I couldn't see the light at the end of the tunnel and that's how I felt, you know?
PC: I feel you. It's...
ND: (Cutting in) It's like I didn't know...I still don't know how much I got paid for this fight for instance. I don't know how much I was supposed to get paid. I heard something about me getting a percentage of the pay-per-view or something. I still don't know if I do or if I don't or what. Going into that fight, that's something that one would want to know. That can affect the way that you fight or your performance. Like, I really didn't know.
PC: That's crazy shit, man.
ND: Yeah man, but at the same time, this is the stuff that I can't worry about from day to day. I have to worry about training. I can't worry about where I'm living at, my situation, and how old I'm getting or whatever. I set everything in life around training. I don't have no kids; I don't have no real situation. I live with my brother. I just made due with what I had. I wasn't 100%. It's a lot harder when you can't see the light at the end of the tunnel.
PC: That's crazy that you say that because you are one of the rare fighters that can deal with a lot outside of the cage and then when it's time to fight, that switch goes off and you seem to block it all out well.
ND: Yeah! I'm not even the same person for a fight. I come to realize that. What you see out there and what you see from day to day is completely different. And I get a lot of...people give me a lot of shit about my attitude and the way that I act and I'm like, "Hey, I gotta do what I gotta do." I think I have the right mentality and a lot of people are not cool with that. They think that I got all of these crazy reasons behind it, but I think that I'm the only one thinking logically about my whole situation that I'm in. And that's why I wear the expression on my face when I think about the real shit that I'm in. It's like what I'm telling you right now is not a situation that I'm out of, but I'm going through it still.
PC: I think when you come from where we come from, you have a chip on your shoulder anyway because most media don't come from that background and they are not cut from that cloth.
ND: Yeah! We don't get the benefit of the doubt. I gotta take what I can get and I'm not getting much to work with. I pretty much...it's all me, my team, and my fans. We're not coming from a commercial academy or anybody else's idea. This is all me. I started training in fighting and it was me against the world and it still is. I have a good couple of guys to work with that stayed with me and we all work for each other. I care about their well-being, just like I care about my fights. I try to tell people that mixed martial arts is more of a team thing. Right now, and we were talking about this last night, but everything is so watered down and commercialized that all of the technique that you would have gotten at an old school fight camp, where everyone is bringing something to the table, like karate, real hardcore clean and traditional karate with the martial arts background and mentality, and then you have real Jiu Jitsu and a real wrestler and a real boxer/standup fighter, just the real old school mentality where you have a guy come in there to learn Jiu Jitsu or MMA; That's just to paint a picture of what kind of gym I walked into when I first started training, you know? I excelled at martial arts and then when I was able to learn Gracie Jiu Jitsu. That's when I was able to take it to the next level and be able to fight against these guys. That's where I got my defense, and no matter how small or skinny I was, I was going to be able to fight with these older guys. I was 16 tapping out 30-year-old steroid bodybuilders, and that's a big deal when you're a kid (laughing). Nobody believed you, but it was a big deal. But now you have a lot of that going on in the world. You have a lot of gyms, but people aren't really getting the real importance of these aspects and the importance of coming from a background with a Gi, and it's important because if you want to take it to that next level, you have to train with guy's every day. You have to like who you are hanging out with. You have to like them, live with them, and be around them. And if you don't like each other, that makes it hard to live with them. If you are living to fight and fighting to live, then that's all you are doing is training to fight, so that means that your life sucks because you have to live with these people that you don't like and that you are gonna fight. So I love my brothers. We train together and we fight together and we are like a family. That's a good time and a good life. If I had this sketchy character in my house who was trying to come up with a way to win against me or take my money, I don't want to live with that character in my house every day. You find a way to get rid of them or you will be thinking about that all day long instead of your training.
PC: So you have a close-knit group as opposed to going to train at some big gym where you are basically rooming with guys you don't know, and more than that, who you don't necessarily like.
ND: Yeah man, and that's what people do. They go to these big gyms, the Greg Jackson's, which is a big gym with all of these UFC fighters, and they train together, but they are not helping each other. They may be getting the best workout that they can with the best quality that they can, but it's really like, you can get that type of workout with a small group that you are close with. You don't need to feel special because you are training with another UFC fighter, and especially one that is not helping you anyway. I would rather train with my own students, who are going to listen to me and I'm going to bring something to them and they are going to bring something to me. The case with a lot of these guys is they don't have it all. They don't come with the full package and that's because they don't come from a real fight school, a real gym or a real Jiu Jitsu academy. That sort of thing doesn't even exist nowadays, you know? Pretty soon, I will open a gym like that. A guy comes and he trains and he learns for 2 weeks, and then the next thing you know, he's like an expert and then he goes and opens a school around the corner because he's got a little money and people will go there because he put UFC Gym on the wall or he puts Team Throwdown or Team Takeover or Couture whatever on the wall.
ND: You know what I mean?
PC: I follow you 100%.
ND: And then, he will have guys working out there and nobody there will give a shit about what's important, you know, like ways to win, or martial arts, and that's what these younger generation of kids need to learn is martial arts, and not just the watered down picture of "everybody can do this", because it doesn't work like that. Not everybody knows...everybody doesn't come from a real boxing background and not everybody is the real champion wrestlers, and if we get too much of one or the other, that's no good. I was lucky to come into a gym that had all of the right people in it. I had a Sambo guy, I had some really good wrestlers, and a standup guy. I had Gracie Jiu Jitsu from Cesar Gracie and he was good in martial arts and everything. There just wasn't any weight classes back then or you would have been seeing Steve Heath, welterweight champion of the world. He was fighting at 205 (laughing) and he was doing that because then there wasn't any other way to do it. People didn't know about athleticism or what to aim for.
PC: Nick, you were put in a messed up situation because you went from a guy you care nothing about to a guy you somewhat looked up to and admired. How difficult was that for you?
ND: Yeah, well, I looked up to him for his art and his style. I didn't really look up to him personally. I think he is a good guy. He's not a bad guy at all, but I didn't look up to him personally like a teacher or something. Some of the things he did in the past, I didn't agree with. He was originally a Ralph Gracie student, and what he learned there was some incredible things and that was 3 to 4 years before I even got put onto it. He was learning it from a real instructor and I didn't have that at the time. I would have represented where I came from if I did have that. I just don't think he put out the respect to Ralph that I would have. I was also a martial artist first before I started learning Jiu Jitsu and I just remember him because he came from Ralph Gracie Jiu Jitsu and that's what we have in common. We learned the same Jiu Jitsu and it shows up; blocking high guard, being in bad positions, and still being able to fight because we came from the same background that I came from pretty much. I just have a little bit more respect for where I came from. You don't see me going around saying, "Diaz MMA, Diaz MMA, Diaz Fight Gym and Diaz Training Camp!" I came from Cesar Gracie Jiu Jitsu when I was 16. I trained with Gil Castillo, Steve Heath, Dave Tirrell, and Jake Shields, and that's who I am. That's who I'm always going to be and that's the reason why I am who I am today because I came from there. And where did BJ Penn come from? He came from BJ Penn Hawaii or what? He don't come from nothing. None of these people do. You know where Georges St. Pierre comes from? I just had a conversation about this last night.
ND: He came from a Renzo Gracie Black Belt; I forget his name. He is a Renzo Gracie Black Belt though and this is the guy who taught Georges St. Pierre. So Georges St. Pierre wouldn't even be capable of being a contender or choking anybody or knowing dominant positions or any of that if he didn't have the same Jiu Jitsu that I learned from the same family. You only gotta go down a few generations to find out where this came from. We all got our Jiu Jitsu from the same place; BJ Penn, Georges St. Pierre and me. They gotta respect and understand where the martial arts that we use come from. They want to feel so special and important and say, "Look at me!" I'm saying, "This is Cesar Gracie Jiu Jitsu," and I represent where my training comes from. I always represent my boxing trainer and who he...Richard Perez and the people that I train with, you know? The only thing that I'm going to ever represent is my team that helped me get there, you know?
PC: You definitely represent your team to the fullest. I can't let you go without getting your response to Georges St. Pierre saying he's going to give you the worst beating in UFC history.
ND: Man, I'm not even sure he said that. When I see him, he don't have nothing to say to me, you know? I had to come out and do what I had to do and fight, and come out all dramatic and act up, and next thing you know, I got a fight, so I'm sure he can't blame me for that. That fight is important anyway because that's the fight that people want to see because I beat all of these important people. I have three Strikeforce belts. If I was him, I would be asking to fight me. If he would have automatically asked for it, then we wouldn't be in this situation he's in where he's not saying nothing. He should have said, "This is who I want to fight." It's not about being a challenger; it's about who is champion at the weight. I'm holding three titles, you know? And I got that DREAM champion too, so you can make that four. It's just as important as anything else and I know I would want to fight another champion before I would want to fight a high contender. Even if I know that high contender is better than the champion, I would still want to fight the champion because he's considered the best guy. That's the route I would have took. That's the route I always take. If you look at my record, I fought people I shouldn't have even been in there with, like Chris Lytle. I never should have fought Chris Lytle, who had 20 fights when I was 1-0, but that's what I did. I went out there and fought Chris Lytle for three rounds and took punches to the face at 18 years old, and I won that shit.
PC: I appreciate the interview my man. I look forward to Super Bowl weekend for sure. I hope to have you on the site a lot more, man. Don't change for anyone.
ND: Hey man, I appreciate that. Thanks for hitting me up.
[ Follow Percy Crawford on Twitter @MrFighthype ]