(Photo Credit; Nick Diaz posing for a photo with fans, UFC 100 Fan Expo, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA.)
Posted: by T.F.M. Staff / Written: by N. Brooks. March 13, 2013.
This Saturday, March 16th, 2013, UFC 158 takes place live from the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The main event being one of the most anticipated fights in Mixed Martial Arts history – UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St. Pierre (GSP) vs. Challenger Nick Diaz. In the lead-up to this epic showdown, much has been said of Diaz’s behavior, attitude, antics, and what most would judge as Nick Diaz’s character (among other things). Everyday I read numerous online articles stating that “Nick Diaz is classless.” “Nick Diaz is a common thug and bad for the sport, etc.” Well I write this article with precisely the opposite opinion. Nick Diaz isn’t want you think (hence the title - F*ck what you think). Nick Diaz isn’t how he is perceived in the media. Nick Diaz is arguably “The Baddest Man on the Planet” and one of the nicest individuals I have ever met…
In April of 2009, I started the clothing brand (The Fight Mafia) in an 8x10 space in my basement. Two hundred dollars ($200) and one t-shirt is how I founded The Fight Mafia (TFM) brand apparel. Three months later (July, 2009), still operating out of my basement, “The Baddest Man on the Planet” did for me what I refer to as “a solid.” In July of 2009, I decided to participate my brand in the first ever UFC Fan Expo at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada that coincided with UFC 100. At that point I had only sponsored four athletes; Sam Stout (UFC 97), Dan hardy (UFC 99), Chris Horodecki (Ultimate Chaos), and Nate Diaz (TUF Season 9 Finale). Everything I did was on the tightest of budgets. I invited all four athletes to appear in TFM’s UFC Fan Expo booth space. Each fighter’s management specified that hotel and flights had to be paid in order for their athlete to make an appearance in TFM’s booth except for Nate Diaz. Nate Diaz’s manager Cesar Gracie notified me that Nate’s accommodations were already taken care of and that Nate would appear in TFM’s booth if he had time between commitments. Nate was already contracted to appear in the official UFC booth as well as the booth of multi-million dollar brand “Ecko.” I must state that Dan Hardy declined to accept his flight being paid for and drove on his own dime from Los Angeles to Las Vegas to appear in TFM’s booth (Dan’s my homeboy). Chris Horodecki was unavailable due to prior commitments and I was very appreciative that Sam Stout and Dan Hardy were committed to appear at TFM’s booth and Nate Diaz as well would try his best to attend.
The Fight Mafia was a tiny basement brand with a limited budget and even participating in the two-day Fan Expo was a huge financial risk. I truly depended on fighter appearances to make TFM’s participation a success. The first day of the Expo started off without a hitch, UFC Lightweight - Sam Stout was appearing at our booth as well as UFC Welterweight - Dan Hardy. We were making rather steady sales but I could see that hours of autographs and picture taking were beginning to wear on both Sam and Dan. I could tell that soon I was going to have to relieve them of their duties. With approximately four hours left in Day 1 of the Fan Expo, I relieved both Sam and Dan of their booth appearances and made plans for them to appear again on Day 2. I was extremely appreciative for both of their participations; however, without a fighter in TFM’s booth, traffic was dwindling. I was hoping that Nate Diaz was going to be able to find time to appear at TFM’s booth to keep the momentum going for the rest of Day 1. I eventually got a phone call from Nate Diaz’s manager Cesar Gracie and he informed me that Nate was busy appearing at the official UFC booth and after that he would be appearing at Marc Ecko’s booth. Therefore, it didn’t seem promising for Nate Diaz to appear at TFM’s booth on Day 1 of the Fan Expo. Cesar however did state that Nate’s brother Nick Diaz was willing to appear at TFM’s booth if I could find him. I hung up the phone and began my search. I had never sponsored nor met Nick Diaz but he was one my favorite fighters and a world-class athlete. It didn’t take me long to find him as he was just hanging out at the Expo backstage and as soon as I asked him to appear in TFM’s booth, he said “Yes, let’s do it!” We walked over to the booth, Nick put on a TFM Diaz Brother’s t-shirt, and instantly a huge crowd formed. TFM’s booth was packed with adoring fans and sales began to skyrocket. I had purposely designed TFM’s Nate Diaz signature shirt to accommodate both Nate and his brother Nick to give the shirt cross-over appeal but I could have never imagined this…
Nick Diaz couldn’t have been nicer to both TFM employees and to the fans. I kept asking him if he needed anything and he always politely replied “I’m okay, thanks.” Nick Diaz appeared at TFM’s booth for approximately four hours signing autographs and taking pictures with fans and when the Fan Expo ended, he made sure he stayed late and that everyone in line got a picture and an autograph. Imagine how that made me feel, I was a $200 brand with one of the world’s greatest athletes sticking his neck out for me. Keep in mind; I had never met Nick Diaz before that day. To say I was honored and appreciative would be a huge understatement. To top it all off, after Nate Diaz finished his appearance at the UFC booth, Nate spent about 30 minutes at Ecko’s booth (which was directly behind TFM’s booth) and then spent the last 2 hours of the Fan Expo's Day 1 at TFM’s booth and also stayed late until every fan got what they came for. So for the last few hours of Day 1 of the UFC Fan Expo, we had both Diaz brothers appearing at TFM’s booth at the same time. It was nothing short of a mad frenzy! For two guys who have been referred to as “classless thugs” in the media, both Nick and Nate Diaz couldn’t have been nicer gentleman or more professional.
(Photo Credit; Fans lined-up to see Nick Diaz, UFC 100 Fan Expo, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA.)
Once all fans had gotten a photo and an autograph with both Diaz brothers, everyone was completely exhausted. We were tired and we were all hungry. Nick Diaz asked what everyone was doing for dinner and offered to take everyone out for dinner. Here is a guy who spent hours of his afternoon doing things for everyone else and he’s the one who wants to take everyone out for dinner. Of course we could not accept, Nick had already done so much for everyone. We chatted for a bit and both Nick and Nate offered to appear at TFM’s booth again the next day for Day 2 of the Fan Expo. I asked them what time they wanted to appear and they replied that they get up early in the morning and 10am was a good time for them. I thought perfect, get the buzz going early. Everyone headed back to their respective hotel rooms for a well deserved night of rest as Day 2 of the Fan Expo was anticipated to be even crazier than Day 1. Of course, Day 2 was extremely interesting to say the least. (To be continued...)