Nick Diaz’s comeback fight against Robbie Lawler at UFC 266 last year after over six years on the sidelines didn’t work out, suffering a third round TKO loss, but his coach has revealed that there was more than just ring rust to blame for his performance on the night.
“So Nick, he went into that fight and his neck was pretty messed up,” Gracie told Submission Radio. “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.”
Gracie went on to talk about how they didn’t actually discover why Diaz wasn’t able to compete at his best until after the fight, with his doctor being left shcoked that he’d even been able to fight at all.
“he did better than I thought he was gonna do, because literally, I can tell you, Nick’s training, before, the guy trains daily like a maniac, he runs triathlons. And I would take him to the gym and he’d do a little thing, and then goes ‘I can’t, I can’t.’ And I never knew what was that wrong with him, you know? So, after the fight and everything, we kept looking for what’s going on – cause he passed his pre-fight stuff – and finally we got these MRIs on his neck, and the doctor said, ‘Look, I cannot believe you just fought. You shouldn’t be walking.’
“So, the UFC did on his insurance thing, whatever, they paid for his operation. He went to the same place where I think Ozzie Osborne the singer just had his neck operated on. He went to the same place of Los Angeles and got that operation. And they took out the old discs, two of them. They cut you in the neck right here. They go in. They pulled out the disc, they put titanium discs in. And now the bone has to fuse with that, and it’s a process. There’s been a guy, a couple of fighters actually that have that operation. Usually it’s one disc, Nick had two. So yeah, so that’s why he fought hurt, and he had his back up against the wall, and it is what it is.”
According to Gracie, the 39-year-old Diaz should now be more like his old self after his surgery, and as such he does intend to fight in the UFC again.
“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. So, now that that’s happened, we’re waiting for the doctors. He’s got another appointment I think next month. And then he should be cleared to start his hard training again. Because 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.”