THE DIAZ BROTHERS’ JOURNEY FROM STREETWISE STOCKTON KIDS TO MMA LEGENDS
BY: LUKE HARDY
Nick and Nate Diaz have had their share of adventures in their short, 30-odd years of life, but make no mistake: they’ve played it all by their own rules. Whether it’s being sponsored by the famous cannabis company FlavRx, training for triathlons or picking fights with the likes of Khabib Nurmagomedov and Connor McGregor, these brothers are going to tell you exactly what they fuckin’ think. And if you’re unlucky enough, they’re going to put a beat down on you…in the ring of course.
May as Well Fight
Growing up in Stockton, California, had obstacles to say the least. The streets didn’t provide much guidance and support leaving Nate’s sole descriptor of the city, “hardcore,” as accurate as growing up in Stockton was difficult. Whether Nick was born competitive or the streets made him a product of his environment, by the 5th grade Nick had taken up swimming and was drawn to wrestling. The all too common story of a challenging home life and difficulty in school presented road blocks. When you’re worried about your next meal, swim equipment doesn’t top the “needs” charts. By 8th grade, Nick had been shipped around countless districts and was put on behavioral drugs in an attempt to “focus” his energy in the classroom. As a kid, Nick had always dreamed of being a pro basketball or football player, but that dream was quickly coming to an end. The system wasn’t designed for him. “I’m screwed anyways,” he thought. “I may as well fight.”
Life was a delicate balance. It wasn’t simple enough to only be about grades. You had to know how to walk down the streets without making eye contact, while still being able to recognize when shit was going down. As much as a gym scares many people, the gym offered a safe haven. Partnering his love for sports with an innate skill-set, it was a natural match. There, he could focus his talents and at 16 learn Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ). By 18, Nick was going to every tournament he could to hone his skills. His mantra? “If it don’t kill ya, it’ll make ya stronger.”
Like any younger brother, Nate would follow Nick, especially to the gym. “I was just sitting at home, wondering if I was going to be able to eat dinner that night,” remembers Nate. “The older guys would sometimes buy a burrito if I went and worked out with Nick, so I figured I may as well eat.”
Nate says Nick introduced him to weed in the 6th grade. Now, it’s simply a lifestyle. Do a dab to reduce the anxiety of an upcoming fight. Take a hit before heading out on a 10-mile run. Focus and get down to business, instead of worrying about all the bullshit. They smoke a little and “take a trip” while training for an upcoming match or triathlon event. Coming to peace with themselves, eliminating insecurities and utilizing a more tactical mindset are just a few ways cannabis has positively influenced their lives. Do they ever get a little too high? Possibly. But hell, that’s just part of the game.
Cannabis isn’t known for its performance-enhancing characteristics, particularly when compared to steroids and amphetamines. The MMA boards that oversee competitors and control industry regulations, however, have banned cannabis use. When Nick started his career 17 years ago, MMA fighters were looked down upon. The sport wasn’t respected. Yet through hard work, perseverance and some good old-fashioned Diaz attitude, Nick and Nate finally feel distinguished and appreciated. The brothers are proud of their accomplishments, and of the sport they’ve worked so hard to excel in. Yet, the powers that be continue to hold Nick and Nate back.
“It’s not [what] they are looking for, but it should be,” proclaims Nate. “The opportunities [MMA leaders] are missing out on shows they are still not in touch with their fans, [or] the current and future position of the cannabis industry.”
For all the blood and sweat Nick and Nate have poured into MMA, they continue to be blacklisted and ignored by the mainstream industry. The marketing executives do not want to promote their “cannabis lifestyle.” Even with a changing demographic, and an alleviated cannabis stigma as legalization spreads across the country, the brothers still get no love. Giants like Reebok and Nike, for instance, will only approach them with lifestyle stipulations in their contracts. But don’t go looking to Nate to give a fuck. “Keep your deals,” he says. “I’m more interested in working with someone who has a deeper vision. We get plenty of love from the cannabis community. So fuuuuuuck them.”
Fucking Shrimp Everywhere
Some may be surprised to learn that Nick and Nate are both vegan. Early on in their careers, they realized the importance of nutrition, whether it was eating a tri-tip steak that resulted in three days of lost training, having a bad reaction from all the “hydrogenated shit” in chewing gum, or seeing the difficulties of controlling one’s water weight after eating gluten. The brothers realized the importance of recharging their bodies with wholesome, pure-energy foods.
So what do they eat to maintain their muscle mass, since they haven’t eaten meat in almost two decades? “I used to eat a lot of shrimp and fish,” states Nick. “But all these taco trucks? And shrimp? There’s fucking shrimp everywhere. You have to be careful not to overload on anything.” And it’s not necessarily about loving animals—it’s about loving people. “If we weren’t all eating meat the way we do, the world would be a better place,” Nick muses, citing the sustainability issues that come from raising and selling meat.
“It’s always a big ordeal when going out to eat. But I’m happy to go over it,” says Nick. “I can eat sides of vegetables and rice. Rice is my favorite.” Those $0.99 cheeseburgers look good when you don’t have any money, or are worried about your next meal, but they ruin your body and offset all of the hard work you put in at the gym. Between the natural food section at their grocers to their protein supplement sponsors, Nick and Nate complete their diets with better choices and better calories.
Not Cool Being Gangsta Anymore
When the Diaz brothers began making a name for themselves, they didn’t have the money for flashy suits, or money to employ a high-powered marketing firm to promote their image. They had to craft their brand themselves, and they tackled this obstacle the only way they knew how: with an in-your-face, “this is us, and we are here to fuck your shit up” philosophy. According to Nick, “approaching life with this attitude led to many negatives, but also painted the picture of how to do things right.”
You need to ruffle a few feathers to build a multi-million-dollar empire, especially when you come from humble beginnings. And Nick and Nate aren’t ones to shy away from a challenge.
“Hey, it’s not cool to be gangsta anymore,” grins Nick. “But that’s cool, because there are so many opportunities to take advantage of in the cannabis industry.” And with so many states legalizing, cannabis doesn’t have to be seen as gangsta anymore.
From CBD and cannabis rubs aiding in training recovery, to droppers, joints and dabs intended to relax and refocus, the Diaz Brothers are excited to be an integral part in the progression of the cannabis industry.
There’s money to be made in this growing scene, but those with innovative vision and a willingness to take risks, will be truly profitable and rewarded. Just ask Nick and Nate Diaz.