Nate Diaz raises stakes vs. UFC with drug test failure revelation

Dan Wetzel
Columnist
Nate Diaz is seen at a news conference on Sept. 19, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Gregory Payan)

The long annals of unexpected, unpredictable and often unreal Nate Diaz developments hit a new level Thursday when Diaz announced he was out of his UFC 244-headlining fight with Jorge Masvidal on Nov. 2 in New York.

Diaz took to social media to reveal that he had, apparently, tested positive for some kind of performance enhancing drug. He then vehemently denied the charge and speculated that the test was a set-up by some entity — The United States Anti-Doping Association? The UFC?

He then took it even a step further by suggesting someone in power told him to hide the results until after the fight, the way other fighters do it, opening an entire different scandal if true.

Even by Diaz standards this was crazy.

“I’m not gonna make it out to NYC for fight week next week because they say I tested with elevated levels that they say might be from some tainted supplements,” Diaz wrote in a tweet. “I call false on that [because] I only take Whole Food or natural food supplements. I don’t even eat meat.

“So until [the] UFC, USADA or whoever is [expletive] with me fixes it, I won’t be competing,” Diaz concluded.

Diaz is a devout vegan who trains relentlessly, including as a triathlete. He has long called out other fighters for being on PEDs and is so respected that Masvidal took to Twitter to say he too didn’t believe Diaz flunked any tests and that he’d fight him no matter what USADA claimed.

“You are one of the cleanest mofo’s,” Masvidal wrote. “I know your name is clean.”

Meanwhile, Diaz offered no explanation or details about why he thinks someone is apparently making up positive drug tests about him.

Neither Diaz nor his management team responded immediately to texts seeking further comment. The UFC has yet to make any statement with the situation ongoing, and the fight hasn’t officially been canceled.

USADA has at times been embroiled in controversy and criticism from athletes but never in purposely tainting tests to take them down. Likewise, the UFC has millions to lose by having Diaz, one of its most bankable stars, pulling out of a Madison Square Garden pay-per-view on short notice. The promotion has been at odds in the past with Diaz, but that isn’t uncommon in the fight game.

Jorge Masvidal squares off with Nate Diaz at a news conference for UFC 244 on Sept. 19, 2019, in New York. (AP)

The UFC certainly didn’t need UFC 244 falling apart. It is a stacked card but the big draw was Diaz-Masvidal fighting for the Diaz-inspired “Baddest Mother[expletive]” belt. After that, Diaz was eyeing a potential trilogy fight against Conor McGregor which might smash existing mixed martial arts pay-per-view numbers.

And while fighters say a lot of things, Diaz is known to back his talk up. The 34-year-old recently took three full years away from the Octagon in the prime of his career because he didn’t think the UFC was offering him proper fights. He has stated he doesn’t care about fighting for belts and just wants great competition that he respects — it’s why he asked specifically to fight Masvidal.

There is a lot of true-believer in him.

The Stockton, California, native notes that he has already made more money than he ever thought possible and isn’t going to do anything that he doesn’t believe in. He seems more than content riding his bike, running a CBD business and a gym with his older brother Nick, and enjoying his passion for smoking marijuana.

“I’m not going to play their game and try to hide it or keep it quiet, as they suggested,” Diaz wrote, not making it clear who, exactly, “they” are. “I’m not gonna have my name tainted as a cheater like these other mother[expletives] who keep quiet until after the fight just so they can get paid. [Expletive] cheaters.

“I don’t give a [expletive] about some money over my dignity and my legacy,” Diaz said. “I’m not playing along with this [expletive]. I’m not staying quiet and figuring it out after the fight. That’s cheating.

“So fight game, I’ll see you when I see you.”

Obviously there is a lot to unpack in Diaz’s statement, which brings many more questions than answers. The allegations are huge, but the details nonexistent.

Diaz, though, sees himself as a very principled person and his willingness to call out people in power has long made him one of the most beloved fighters of the era.

Since an August victory over Anthony Pettis, Diaz appeared ready to embark on a busy and exciting period of his career … big fights and big money lined up for the foreseeable future.

Now this. Now this out of nowhere.

Diaz out. Conspiracy theories and accusations in. Details scarce.

Who knows what could possibly be coming next?

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