Take a Trip Back to the 209 With Ronda Rousey and the Diaz Brothers

Justin Golightly
Ronda Rousey Nick Diaz Nate Diaz

The year was 2012. The world was supposed to end, PSY’s “Gangnam Style” was some sort of inescapable dance vortex, and Tupac was resurrected as a hologram.

Women weren’t allowed to fight in the UFC yet and the one who was about to change all of that was catching arms like Pokemon in Strikeforce. Before Ronda Rousey made a liar out of Dana White though, Cesar Gracie’s camp opened their doors to her.

Ronda packed her bags, grabbed some handfuls of parsley, then headed straight to Stockton to train with Nick and Nate Diaz while MiddleEasy.com documented the whole thing.

There were hours of driving, a mild interruption by the police, pit stops to Whole Foods to get that natural fuel and dietary seminars orated by Nick Diaz himself.

“Nick’s not exactly the most social butterfly I’ve ever met,” she said. “So, I think talking about nutrition was one of the things that would break him out of his shell and get him talking. I think I either heard him talking about nutrition or just not talking.”

Training time was no joke though. It was kill or be killed. Ronda wasn’t just rolling with the Diaz brothers, she was grappling with elite fighters like Jake Shields, Leslie Smith and multiple time jiu-jitsu champions.

She knew she had to bring her absolute ‘A’ game. …And she did.

“If I’m messing around or playing around [with Ronda Rousey] like, ‘Oh, I’m just training with a girl,’ you’re going to get tapped out,” Nate said on Tony Hinchcliffe’s Pony Hour. “She like, put me in a move one time too and I had to get super man-strong and hold on for it.”

Not only did Ronda get some elite competition from some of the best MMA fighters and mat maniacs on the planet, but she was even able to teach some of her Olympic-level judo techniques to them as well.

“A lot of guys that are fighters will not come up to me and ask me how to do something because they’ll feel self-conscious about it or something, but it seems to happen all the time in this camp,” she said. “They’re very humble and open to learn and just here to help everybody.”

If you’re going to train hard, you better treat that body right. Stay away from toxins and free radicals. Sometimes even pounds of blueberries and stevia aren’t enough. Sometimes you have to get hardcore and take apple cider vinegar shots.

Videographer Michael Mardones found out the hard way and had to exorcize his meat demons. Maybe next time he’ll remember if it’s organic, don’t panic.

Ronda didn’t end this trip to the 209 in a whimper, she went out with a storm over at Gilbert Melendez’s El Nino training center. Nick and Nate kept putting her through the ringer and she tossed around literally everyone in the gym.

Of course, she couldn’t leave the Diaz brothers without going on a team bike ride. In the whirlwind of unique experiences contained within this adventure, surprisingly riding a bike for the first time was one of them.

“I feel like I’ve forgotten more things than most people experience in their whole lives. I’ve had an overload of experiences. I hope I was able to help them out by being there,” she said. “They definitely helped me out. Sometimes the way you learn from each other is hard to exactly quantify.”

Ronda left Stockton with more than just experiences though, she left with the Diaz brother’s respect. So, when Dana finally presented the UFC bantamweight title to her just three months after the last video dropped and Nate Diaz gave her that little dap, know the place it came from.

Once you earn a Diaz’s respect, you’re down for life.

There’s no girls like [Ronda],” Nate said. “I’ve trained with other girls that are real good. Real, real, real good at jiu-jitsu and moving and stuff, but there are none that I’ve trained with that are real good, and technical and that much of a beast too.”