“I owe my life to Nate Diaz.” Interview with an American fighter with Russian roots
On the night of September 25-26, the UFC 266 tournament will take place in Las Vegas (Nevada, USA). The main card will be headed by championship fights between Alexander Volkanovski and Brian Ortega, as well as between Valentina Shevchenko and Lauren Murphy. The preliminary card will feature an American fighter with Russian roots Nick Maksimov. Nick will make his UFC debut in a fight against fellow debutant Cody Brandage, who, on short notice, agreed to come out instead of Carl Robertson. We talked with Nick about his Russian roots, about Russia itself and what he thinks about it, as well as about the Diaz brothers with whom he trains.
– Nick, please tell us how your family ended up in the States?
– My great-grandmother was a doctor. And she and my great-grandfather immigrated to the States illegally, if I’m not mistaken. I don’t remember exactly when they moved, I think in the 30-40s of the last century. My great-grandmother was among the first female doctors to enter the United States.
– Do you remember the reason for moving to the USA?
– I’m not sure, because my parents did not tell me such details, but it seems that at that time there were more opportunities in the States.
– As far as we know, you are learning Russian. This is true?
– Yes, I try to teach him, but he is very difficult for me. I teach it personally with a tutor.
– How long have you been studying Russian?
– Very shortly and not very regularly, since during the periods of preparation for fights and tournaments I do not devote time to him.
– Are you going to visit Russia sometime?
– Oh yes, I really want to visit Russia. I want to see Moscow, St. Petersburg and other cities in order to better explore them. I would also very much like to get to know the local culture better in order to better understand it.
– How did you decide to go to MMA? You also had a good career in college football in college. Why mixed martial arts?
– I had more success in martial arts, especially since I have been doing them since I can remember. Wrestling seems to me to be a more logical and understandable sport, which also played a role. In football, it was initially difficult for me to break through to a high level because of my size, which was not suitable for the position in which I played.
– Do you mean that you were not big enough for football during your student years?
– Yes, I was not big enough for my position, but I had an athletic build and therefore was quite agile.
– You are the basic fighter. Where did you study the percussion technique?
“I learned a lot from Nate and Nick at the Nick Diaz Academy. I think I surprised them with my abilities.
– How did you end up in Stockton? And please tell us something about Stockton.
– I got to Stockton through my friends. My father was friends with the head coach from Stockton, whom he met at one of the tournaments where I played. They invited me to train there. And now I have been living there for 7-8 years already. As for Stockton itself, it is a training-only city. There’s nothing else to do there.
– Is Stockton a dangerous city for life?
– Yes, this is definitely an unsafe city to live in.
– And have you faced any problems during your stay there?
– No, I have not had any troubles in this city.
“We know you are good friends with Nate Diaz. Can you tell any thrash story about Nate that best characterizes him?
– There are no particular stories, but I can say about the character. He is a very cool dude, a very generous person, he thinks about other people. I can only say good things about him, and in general he helped me become who I am now. I owe him everything, even my life.
– Is Nate a tough coach?
– Yes, very tough, it may well cram.
– Did Nate weigh Stockton bream for you?
– No, fortunately ( smiles).
– What is your attitude to Khabib Nurmagomedov? We just know about the relationship between Khabib and Nate, but we do not know your opinion.
– I have no particular opinion about Khabib. He’s a really good fighter, but it’s hard for me to judge him as a person, because I don’t know him personally.
– If we imagine the situation that Khabib will again meet with the Diaz brothers at some tournament and there will again be a serious clash. Which side will you take if you are near?
– You don’t even need to think about it, of course the Diaz brothers. I have never dealt with Khabib, never communicated with him, therefore I will not think twice when deciding which side to take.
After winning the Dana White Contender Series last November, did you have any offers from other promotions? For example, from Bellator or PFL.
– Yes, in April I was offered to take part in The Ultimate Fighter project, but I turned them down. They took too much time to think, so I turned them down. In Underground Submission (promoted by Chel Sonnen, which belongs to the UFC) I participate purely out of interest, since they only compete in Jiu-Jitsu. I was offered a contract at ONE and PFL, but I turned them down too.
– Did you turn down ONE and PFL because you expected an offer from the UFC?
– Yes exactly.
– But at the same time, you refused to participate in The Ultimate Fighter. Did you have any concerns that the UFC would refuse your services in this way?
– Yes, I understand that they represent the same organization. But I didn’t want to be in a TV project where many other athletes are involved. And so on throughout the whole season. If you watch this show, you will see that there are no personalities, they do not allow them to open up, because with this the creators of the project are doing very badly. Which is why I came to the conclusion that it is not worth it.
– Would you recommend anyone to take part in The Ultimate Fighter?
– It’s just not my topic – being in the same house with a lot of other dudes. If you’re comfortable with that, then you can go. I will not dissuade anyone, because if you like this format and are ready for it, then you can safely go there.
– We saw that you have tattoos on your arm with Kremlin domes and the coat of arms of Russia – a two-headed eagle. Who do you feel more like – Russian or American?
– Good question. I really like Russian history, culture, which the country is very rich in, which America cannot boast of. It’s hard for me to answer straight away, this is a really good question. I don’t know, I sympathize with Russian culture and value it more than American culture, because for Americans it all comes down to “Oh, f ### down” (laughs).