At 23, he’s one of the youngest fi ghters in the UFC; and he sports a 10-2 career record with a fi ve-fi ght win streak after becoming the TUF 5 Lightweight champion a year ago. He’s got undying love and respect for his hometown of Stockton, Calif, and the brother he calls his coach. So what else is there to know about Nathan Diaz? Below is an impressive list of little-known facts.
1 Prefers being called Nathan over Nate.
2 Attended fi ve different elementary schools, three middle schools, and two high schools due to his gift for clowning around in class.
3 Grew up watching a lot of movies featuring martial artist and actor Jean-Claude Van Damme, who he considers one of his heroes.
4 Got into Jiu-Jitsu when he was 16, after his brother, Nick, got his friend, Rudy Hernandez, into classes. Nathan was so competitive with Hernandez that he joined classes as well.
5 Was 19 when he had (and won) his fi rst MMA fi ght at WEC 12.
6 His fi rst career loss was to Koji Oishi by decision less than 3 months after his brother, Nick, knocked out Oishi at UFC 53.
7 Earned a blue belt in Jiu-Jitsu in just oneand- a-half years, and earned his brown belt in Jiu-Jitsu under Cesar Gracie in 2008.
8 Didn’t fi nish high school, but feels 4 years of Jiu-Jitsu training has been his form of a college education for the job he’s doing now.
9 Is also a triathlete and has competed in countless events with his brother, Nick.
10 Rarely takes breaks from fi ghting, and when he does he gets bored easily and winds up back in the gym anyway.
11 He rarely—if ever—watches television. He reads triathlete and health magazines and surfs the Internet.
12 His diet? Nondairy, no-land animals, all organic whenever possible.
13 Feels Nick, Jake Shields, Gilbert Melendez, Cesar Gracie, and his training team have shaped him into the fi ghter he is today.
14 Says his mom is so stoked about both of her boys being mixed martial artists that she reads up on it and is very knowledgeable about the sport.
15 Feels winning the TUF 5 Finale due to Manny Gamburyan’s verbal submission took something away from his win, and feels he only would have gotten better as time went by in that fi ght.
16 Seventy percent of his wins have been by submission, with the Triangle Choke being his most common fi nishing move.
17 His victory over Josh Neer at UFC Fight Night 15 was his fi rst decision win, and it won Fight of the Night honors.
18 Wouldn’t mind fi ghting Hermes Franca again and avenging his only other career loss.
19 Is only 6 feet tall, although people often think he’s taller.
20 Usually walks around at 180 pounds, and at some point would entertain the thought of moving up to the Welterweight division.
21 Was so caught up in the moment of his submission win over Kurt Pelligrino that he didn’t fully realize he’d given the “double fi ngers” to the crowd until after the fi ght in the locker room.
22 Watches old Gracie fi ght clips on YouTube to pick up pointers.
23 There is no sibling rivalry between he and his brother, Nick, and he says they’ve never been in a fi ght.
24 Says he and Nick are completely different, with Nick being more serious and Nathan being the clown.
25 Says fans can sometimes be a bit crazy, but he enjoys it nonetheless. Could do without the “Hold my baby” requests.
26 Some of the best advice his brother, Nick, ever gave him: “Whatever you do, don’t get no girl pregnant!”
27 Has vowed to become better at doing interviews, as the art of staying out of the limelight and dodging interviews may have him in hot water with the UFC
28 Fighters who have inspired him: the Gracies, Murilo Bustamante, Ninja and Shogun Rua.
29 Goals? Black belt in BJJ. Win the lightweight title. Take a shot at the welterweight division.