NEW YORK — Nate Diaz plopped down onto his seat for UFC 244 media day and grabbed the water bottle placed by his legs. He hit the scrum of reporters huddled around him with a quote before they could fire off a first question.
"There better not be steroids in here," Diaz said, putting the bottle down beside him and flashing a devilish grin.
The jab served as a final middle finger to the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) after a whirlwind week that had the agency alert Diaz of his test result showing "elevated levels" of a banned substance, only to clear him of any violation a day later.
It all started last Thursday, when Diaz took to his Twitter account and broke the news of his own drug result showing "elevated levels."
He threatened to not make his flight to New York City for UFC 244 on Nov. 2 and scratch his main event fight against Jorge Masvidal at Madison Square Garden unless USADA and the UFC set the record straight that he's a clean fighter.
Upon learning about Diaz's tweet, even Masvidal defended his future opponent’s name and reputation.
— Jorge Masvidal UFC (@GamebredFighter) October 24, 2019
The very next day, both the UFC and USADA acknowledged Diaz's result revealing amounts of the banned substance LGD-4033 in his system, but cleared him of violating policy.
"Mr. Diaz has not committed an anti-doping policy violation, has not been provisionally suspended and is not subject to any sanctions," the UFC said in a statement posted on its website. "Additionally, UFC has been informed by independent experts who have determined that there is unequivocally no appreciable performance-enhancing or therapeutic benefit from the significantly limited amount of LGD-4033 that may be present in his system, which is roughly 10,000 times lower than one LGD-4033 therapeutic dose."
This past Monday, as reported by ESPN, Diaz alleged that he was told to keep the USADA findings on the hush hush — something he refused to do by bringing it to the forefront with his tweet four days prior. On Wednesday, Diaz's fans broke out into a "F— USADA!" chant during his public workout at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden in full support of the 209 representative.
It's no secret that Diaz has always loathed interviews and media sessions like the one that put all eyes on him Thursday. The Stockton, Calif., native has always let his fighting do the talking for him. But on this day, he opted to hammer some final coffin nails into the subject.
"For one, they call me telling me all this s—, they're telling me all this, 'You're on drugs s—' … I’m like, 'Hold up, I'm not on drugs, fix your test,'" Diaz said. "So, I continued taking my supplements, which are Whole Foods supplements. I only eat out the garden.
"I live like that, by that code — the strong survive type of s—t. I don't need no [cheating]. When they do that, I’m like, 'You're f—ing up my whole s—, what I believe in and it's making me lose sleep at night.' So, I'm like, 'You know what? This is war and this ain't fair. I'm not sleeping. The UFC is sleeping. Jorge Masvidal is sleeping.'"
That's when Diaz decided that tweeting about the situation himself and threatening to cancel the fight was the only stance for him to take.
"I'm like, 'How about f— all of you guys? Ain't nobody sleeping,'" Diaz said. "The fight's off. Now, no one can sleep and I was in bed smiling."
Diaz's strategy worked.
"It evened things out a little, and it's what's real," he said. "And now look at it — they flipped their s—, got it together and there was nothing wrong in the first place, so why did you guys try to f— with me to begin with?"
Some critics might feel like USADA caved under the pressure and worst-case scenario of having Diaz vs. Masvidal for the BMF title scrapped after all this buildup and anticipation. Add that to the fact that UFC 244 marks the company's 500th event, and the bout being canceled would have boiled over into pure public outrage.
Regardless of what you believe, Diaz's handling of USADA suggests what he has boasted all along — that he's already the reigning and defending "Baddest Motherf—er" in the fight game. UFC president Dana White will unveil the BMF title belt Friday and has referred to the hardware as a one-off thing curated for Diaz vs. Masvidal, but Diaz says that he'll brandish the tagline "forever."
After all, who else could take an accusation aimed his way, flip the script, put the onus on USADA and the UFC and walk out unscathed in all of this?
The self-proclaimed "West Coast gangster," that's who.
And now that this is behind him, Diaz can return to his comfort zone — the Octagon.
"Yeah," Diaz said in his signature raspy voice, "I don't like not fighting."