Coach reveals Nick Diaz had ruptured discs, $75K debt to NSAC ahead of Robbie Lawler fight
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Coach reveals Nick Diaz had ruptured discs, $75K debt to NSAC ahead of Robbie Lawler fight

Jan 30, 2024

In April, UFC veteran Jake Shields told Joe Rogan that he wished close teammate Nick Diaz had a "proper camp" for his UFC 266 rematch with Robbie Lawler. According to Shields, the former Strikeforce champion was "pushed into the fight" and that "he hadn't been training at all."


Diaz's long-time coach Cesar Gracie went on record with Submission Radio recently to somehow corroborate Shields’ statements. Nick was apparently dealing with serious injuries which led to him missing the supposed 170-pound mark and the fight being bumped up to 185 pounds instead.

"So Nick, he went into that fight and his neck was pretty messed up," Gracie revealed. "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, is cause it was impossible to train. He just didn't have any strength. He didn't have what you’re used to, the Nick Diaz, you know, he didn't have it."


Right after the fight, Shields also tweeted about how there were "snakes everywhere" that only "care about money" more than Diaz's health. With this, Gracie also provided some context.

"What people don't know is that the commission in Vegas was still demanding their money from, remember the marijuana test that we didn't pass? Right," Gracie said. "Yeah, Okay. So, this is a new thing for you guys, too. Even though it's legal, they said ‘you still owe us that $75,000’. I think it was some insane amount.

"You know, it was like ‘what? You still have to pay it? Even though it's legal now?’ When that happened, it wasn't, and we want to, and so we gotta. You’re gonna have to deduct it from your fight purse. And Nick really hadn't signed the best contract in the world. And so what happened was, they said, we’ll pay you more money, but you have to fight this fight here, and on this date.

"It was a thing. It was like, if you don't take that fight, you’re almost gonna fight for free, you know, by the time [you pay taxes and the fine]. Obviously, people know, that's not a secret, he had some tax issues in the past. He had to pay that fine, which, you know, it was just, you had to do it. It was like, well, Nick, he had his back on the wall."

Gracie also revealed that they were initially offered Khamzat Chimaev, whom they knew little of at the time. That made them choose to go with Lawler, instead.

"And, I think they wanted him to fight Khamzat back then also," he said. "Which was kind of weird, cause we didn't even know who that guy was. So it was like, well, who is that? The fans don't really know him.

"I think he had like three or four fights or something. So then what happened was, basically Nick was like, ‘if I’m gonna lose, I’m gonna lose to Robbie Lawler.’ Because he respects Robbie Lawler. And that's why after the fight he said, ‘I think I probably had that coming.’

"It was just like, if you’re gonna lose, you lose to a veteran, a warrior. Nick had to pretty much take that fight. There was a lot of things weighing in on him."

On the upside, Gracie said Diaz underwent successful neck surgery to repair the injured discs and they are now looking to move forward, career-wise.

"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," he said.

"Right now he can only run and hit the pads and everything. But he definitely wants to fight. 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."

In April, Gracie also gave an update on the 39-year-old Diaz's return, stating he could be back in action "by the end of the year."

Milan Ordoñez has been covering combat sports since 2012 and has been part of the Bloody Elbow staff since 2016. He's also competed in amateur mixed martial arts and submission grappling tournaments.

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