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Flashback: Diaz Meets The Nightmare

As the man challenging Georges St-Pierre for the UFC welterweight title at UFC 158 in Montreal on March 16, Nick Diaz is without question one of the top 170-pounders in the world. It‘s a title of respect that he‘s held for many years, even dating back to 2005, when he battled the first winner of The Ultimate Fighter, Diego Sanchez. Today, we look back at that pivotal matchup — and a pre-fight interview that gave fans an early glimpse at the surly persona that would come to characterize Diaz.Click here to watch the fightWith a UFC record of 4-1 that included knockouts of Robbie Lawler and Drew Fickett and a razor-thin split decision loss to Karo Parisyan, Nick Diaz‘ Octagon career was on the upswing as he prepared to face unbeaten Diego Sanchez in the main event of the Ultimate Fighter 2 Finale card in Las Vegas on November 5, 2005. The bad blood between the two was there from the start, something evident before the fight. We now know how personally Diaz takes all of his fights, but this was one of the first times we’d ever heard it from his mouth. ###Nick Diaz ”“ 100% FighterBy Thomas GerbasiDiego Sanchez.  For Nick Diaz, that name encapsulates everything that he‘s up against every time he steps into the Octagon.  There are no reality TV appearances for the 22-year-old from Stockton, California, no magazine covers or six figure contracts ”“ not yet at least.  For him, fighting is not a sport; it‘s his only option in life. So when he says, “I don‘t have anything else that I put any effort into,” he means it.That makes him a very dangerous young man.  Luckily for him, on November 5th, in the main event of the Ultimate Fighter Finale on Spike TV, Diaz gets his shot at Sanchez. It‘s the opportunity of a lifetime, to perform before a national television audience and to make a statement to the world with each punch, kick, or takedown.Yet he didn‘t really see it that way; at least not when the fight was first brought to his attention.“They tell me to fight, so I fight,” said Diaz, when asked for his thoughts on the bout with ”ËœThe Nightmare‘. “But I was like ”Ëœman, this really sucks because it‘s all good for him and all bad for me.‘”What he means is, if he beats Diego Sanchez this Saturday, he‘s beaten a fighter many mixed martial arts fans will say was rushed into the spotlight too soon.  He loses, and he lost to a fighter who only made a splash on the national scene earlier this year, and then he goes to the bottom of the list of welterweight title contenders.  At the end of the day, the goal for Diaz is to wear a championship belt.  He doesn‘t think beating Sanchez gets him any closer to that goal.“The thing about this fight is people come up to me and say ”Ëœyeah, you‘re gonna get really good exposure for this one,‘ and this and that, but I‘m looking to climb up the rankings and fight for a title,” he said.  “I don‘t think this is helping me do that really.”But at the very least, fighting Sanchez does motivate him, doesn‘t it?“It really does,” he admits.  “I don‘t like Diego Sanchez either and I don‘t want to lose to that guy. I knew I‘d probably end up fighting him sooner or later, but I figured it would be later on in my career or after he fought some more people and was ranked above me.”At this moment in the sport‘s development though, when it comes down to it, a fight is a fight, and a payday is a payday, and UFC shots aren‘t coming by every month. Add national television exposure to the mix, and it‘s a Corelone-style offer no fighter can refuse.  Diaz accepts that, and he‘s coming to fight.  As for his opponent, he believes Sanchez‘ glossy record was built with a lot of smoke and mirrors.“He has like a Matt Hughes-type of style but he‘s not Matt Hughes,” said Diaz of Sanchez.  “That‘s all there is to it with him.  He‘s a good jiu-jitsu guy who‘s beaten a lot of good people in jiu-jitsu, and I think that‘s the best thing about him ”“ his jiu-jitsu game.  I‘ve looked at a lot of the stuff that he‘s done and I‘ve seen some of the people he‘s beaten, and it was pretty impressive.  He was on the show, and basically, he‘s got a huge background.  He‘s got almost 20 wins and he‘s beaten some good people at jiu-jitsu, but he‘s fought at a heavier weight class ”“ which means slower and dumber guys ”“ or fought guys with no record that were easy to beat, or guys with a lot of tattoos and their hair dyed.  He‘s beaten a lot of those type of guys and it just built his record up.  The thing is, I don‘t think he‘s fought anybody really that great in fighting.  They put him on that show with all these other guys that sucked ”“ they were terrible.  (Josh) Koscheck was the best guy and that was just because he was the best wrestler.”How do you really feel, Nick? But even though Diaz pulls no punches when talking about his peers at 170 pounds, his fire comes from a place few of…

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