Diaz was not licensed to compete against Anderson Silva on Saturday night until the week of the fight, MMAFighting.com has learned. Diaz was not able to provide a clean drug sample to the Nevada Athletic Commission (NAC) until "days before" the bout, his coach Cesar Gracie said. NAC executive Bob Bennett confirmed the information Wednesday.
Diaz then tested positive for marijuana metabolites in a post-fight drug test, as Yahoo! Sports reported Tuesday. Bennett said the amount of marijuana metabolites in Diaz's system was 300 ng/ml -- double the threshold of 150 ng/ml.
Fighters who have failed tests previously must re-apply for licenses with the NAC before being allowed to compete again. Diaz had popped for weed twice before in Nevada. The process to get re-licensed requires submitting documentation of a clean drug test. Gracie said Diaz was not able to do so until the 11th hour. Bennett said he believes the paperwork came in Jan. 28, three days before UFC 183.
"It's not an anomaly," Bennett said. "We do get them at the last second. We'd prefer not to, because it creates problems. But don't think we didn't contact the promoters. We did contact the promoters. We said, 'We need a clean bill of health from Nick or he isn't fighting.'"
According to Gracie, Diaz failed several tests before passing the one that was submitted to the commission last week. The positive tests were not submitted to the commission, so Bennett said he has no records of them. It wouldn't matter anyway. Marijuana is not prohibited by the NAC out of competition, so Diaz faced no penalties leading up to the bout.
Diaz will face discipline since that is an in-competition test. Anything inside a 12-hour window before and after the fight is considered in-competition.
Gracie said they were confident Diaz would pass the test before the fight and get licensed. However, he is confused as to how Diaz passed a drug test before the fight, did not smoke after it and then failed the post-fight screening.
"My understanding was he passed the test, then he fought and then after he passed the test, he did not smoke," Gracie said. "What we think happened is the exertion of the fight affected the test and that's why he tested positive."
"It's obvious once he provided us a negative one he started smoking again," he said.
This marks Diaz's third time testing positive for marijuana metabolites. He was fined and suspended for the infraction in 2007 and again in 2012.
Gracie said he is not surprised and does not think it's a big story.
"It's not a shocker," Gracie said. "His DNA is THC, let's face it. No one is surprised by that. I'm disappointed by it. It's just a distraction. It sucks. I don't want any distractions. The guy is such a brilliant fighter. I'd rather be talking about how skilled he is."
Diaz has a medical marijuana license in his home state of California, Gracie said. Gracie said nothing Diaz is doing is illegal according to law. But marijuana is prohibited by athletic commissions in competition. ESPN's Brett Okamoto reported Wednesday that Diaz did not disclose any medical marijuana use in the last month.
"He doesn't take pain medications," Gracie said. "When he's in pain after a workout, he likes to smoke marijuana. It calms him down and relieves the pain in his body. It's his way to naturally deal with pain and other problems."
While the Diaz test failure isn't much of a stunner, Silva's situation is. Silva tested positive in a Jan. 9, out-of-competition test for two performance-enhancing drugs: drostanolone and androsterone. Drostanolone is an anabolic steroid and androsterone is a steroid hormone.
Both Silva and Diaz have been temporarily suspended by the NAC and face further discipline in upcoming hearings, likely in March or April. Overturning the fight to a no-contest will also be on the table and Gracie said it should be that "at the very least."
Gracie called Silva being on steroids "scary." Diaz fights normally at welterweight and moved up to middleweight to face Silva. Gracie said Diaz weighed 190 pounds on fight night and Silva was probably well over 200.
"Definitely one guy had an advantage he should not have had," Gracie said. "He already enjoyed a weight advantage. We agreed to that. The other part we didn't agree to."
Gracie believes that the positive test absolutely affects Silva's legacy. Silva is regarded as the greatest UFC champion of all time and held the middleweight title for seven years.
"Well how many times did he not get caught?" Gracie said. "That question is gonna be there. Was that real natural Bruce Lee-like talent or was it enhanced by cheating? That's the question people are gonna have and it tarnishes your legacy. It's not a good thing to do that stuff."
Much worse than smoking weed as far as Gracie is concerned.
"I think the public knows Nick smokes marijuana," he said. "He obviously wasn't stoned during the fight."
Additional reporting by Ariel Helwani.