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Nick Diaz's team will file petition for judicial review of 'draconian' NAC suspension

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Nick Diaz's battle with Nevada is only just beginning.

Diaz's lawyer Lucas Middlebrook told MMA Fighting that the plan is to file a petition for judicial review with regards to the Nevada Athletic Commission's discipline of Diaz for marijuana usage Monday. The NAC suspended Diaz for five years and hit him with a $150,000 fine, which is 33-percent of his $500,000 fight purse, at its monthly meeting in Las Vegas. Diaz's team has 30 days to file the petition.

"We think it's absolutely draconian," Middlebrook said. "And not only is it draconian, it doesn't seem to be based on anything in the record."

Diaz tested positive for marijuana metabolites in a fight night test at UFC 183 on Jan. 31. He also passed two other drug tests taken the day he fought Anderson Silva eight months ago. The latter point was the focus of Middlebrook's argument during Diaz's disciplinary hearing, a point that fell on deaf ears.

"We disproved the validity of the test that they relied upon," Middlebrook said. "They stuck their head in the sand and just ignored these two negative results that were completely consistent with each other."

Diaz also tested positive for marijuana in 2007 and 2012. The commissioners made repeated mention of his multiple offender status during deliberations.

Nevada deputy attorney general Christopher Eccles argued that Diaz's team never asked for the B sample of the positive result to be tested and that the negative tests showed that Diaz was hydrated, which would have diluted the amount of marijuana found in his system. Middlebook countered, with aid from an expert witness, that the amount of water needed to hydrate that much in between tests would have been potentially harmful to Diaz.

Eccles also set out to prove to the commission that Diaz lied on a pre-fight questionnaire that he had not taken any drugs or medications within 30 days of the fight. Diaz's struggle to submit a clean drug test in order to get licensed to fight Silva has been well-documented. Middlebrook argued that the out-of-competition tests Diaz failed were irrelevant because they were on a much stricter scale than the NAC's requirements.

"They obviously just ignored the facts," Middlebrook said. "They ignored the evidence and they issued this based on a vendetta against Nick."

Middlebrook said that he believes the commission came to a conclusion to throw the book at Diaz before he ever stepped in the room. The attorney was very aggressive, particularly in several verbal exchanges with commissioner Pat Lundvall. In deliberations, Lundvall motioned to ban Diaz for life.

"It may have rubbed them the wrong way," Middlebrook saud. "I don't think it affected the outcome, to be honest with you. It was actually part of our strategy. We had watched videos of these commission hearings and we had watched Commissioner Lundvall try to intimidate and make people look ignorant. We decided that we would come out and let her know from the get go that we wouldn't be pushed around. It's not supposed to be a popularity contest. It's supposed to be presenting the evidence and hearing the evidence in an analytical manner."

Middlebrook doesn't feel that actually happened Monday, which is why he wants Diaz's case to go before an actual judge in a court setting. The commission is a state entity, but only an administrative body. Lundvall said that by that token the commissioners could use Diaz taking the Fifth Amendment against him. Middlebrook vehemently disagreed.

"That would be consistent with any other court of law in the country," he said. "That's your right not to testify against yourself and it can't be held against you. And she did just that."

Diaz's team is also not happy that Silva, who beat Diaz at UFC 183 by unanimous decision, was only given a one-year suspension after testing positive for steroids. Diaz's sentence is five times the amount of Silva's and marijuana is not a performance-enhancing drug.

"I think it's the epitome of an abuse of discretion by the commission," Middlebrook said. "I think it demonstrates that their issuance of this discipline wasn't based on the facts of the case. You can even hear from their comments -- you don't respect us, so we're going to nail you with this."

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