By: Jose Garcia
It’s 11 at night, and my day is over after teaching a kickboxing class at my gym, Body by Jose at Lifestyle Health and Fitness Center, in Oakley, Calif. We had an awesome turnout for a Wednesday night, and since opening in mid-January, it feels like things are finally falling into place.
I’m feeling exhausted, yet accomplished after a long, productive day and I’m packing up to go home and hit my bed when suddenly I get a text from my man, MMA fighter and client, Mr. Nick Diaz.
“What’s going on? What are you doing tonight?” his message says. This signals to me that he needs combat sports recovery work, which I specialize in. Nick never tells me directly that he’s hurting due to hard practice or hyperactivity during fight camp.
He’s a creature of habit and does things in his own way, which works for him. We text back and forth and arrange for me to come to his home to work with him for a couple of days while he prepares for his upcoming UFC fight against Georges St-Pierre.
I’ve missed being in camp with him—I’ve been part of his team for his past four fights in a row, including one that was originally to be against GSP, as well as the fight against B.J. Penn. Nick originally recruited me for his bout against Paul Daley after sustaining heavy damage during his fight with Evangelista “Cyborg” Santos and I was able to get him back in good health.
Being part of Nick’s fight camp feels good, but it also comes with big responsibilities and sacrifices due to me being away from my family. I’m happy that my pregnant girlfriend understands and supports what I do as she packs my overnight bag with all of my equipment and clothes.
I arrive in Stockton close to midnight. There are four cars parked in the front of Nick’s house. It’s almost as if there’s a mini party going on, but there’s no such thing in fight camp. As I walk through the door, I see Nate Diaz, Nick’s brother, who has also been a client of mine. Also present are Victor Galdon, a longtime cornerman for both brothers, and another friend.
Everyone seems to be on point, including Nick. He’s blessed to have a good support system and I feel blessed to be a part of it. I say what’s up to everyone and when I approach Nate, I pick up on a weird vibe from him. Maybe it’s because he doesn’t approve of me working with the camp at the American Kickboxing Academy headquarters, where I’m a combat sports recovery coach.
Nate is hardcore like that.
After an initial assessment of Nick, he seems to be in a good place. He’s been getting some quality training and just has minor issues for me to address. It almost seems like we pick up where we last left off working together, which was the Carlos Condit fight.
I sense a good positive energy from Nick, like he knows completely what he needs to do. Nick asks someone to turn on some GSP fights, and as I work, he watches them on TV. There’s a reason why Nick’s a black belt, and one thing that comes along with that is being able to assess and dissect his opponent and formulate a fight plan on his own with the approval of Cesar Gracie, his BJJ instructor and manager, and the rest of his team.
It’s amazing how accurately Nick can analyze a fighter’s style in the cage. GSP is in for a tough fight with NIck. Throughout the night, we take the occasional break to chill with the other 209 homies and throw knives at the board he has up in his kitchen.
There’s always activities in the house during fight prep. I look at the clock. It’s 5:30 in the morning already–time flies. Since I was pretty exhausted, I ask Nick if we can continue tomorrow and he agrees.
When I wake up around 9 the next morning, Nick has already gotten up to go for a run. This guy doesn’t ever sleep. The rest of the team were packed up and ready to go to Nate’s house to help him get ready for his own upcoming fight against Josh Thomson. I stay behind since I’m Nick’s guy for this fight prep.
I’m outside getting something from my car when Nick pulls up with another vehicle following him. After getting out of the car, Nick introduces me to the other driver, Jeff “Sherdog” Sherwood, founder and owner of the MMA website, Sherdog.com. Jeff has a huge camera with him and when I ask him what it’s for, he tells me that he’s taking some photos of Nick for his site and will be following Nick around for the day.
Our first stop is Nick’s pre-fight eye examination, which he passes with flying colors. Afterward, on our way to grab some sushi, we walk around downtown Stockton and I get to know Jeff a little better as he tells me about how his site came to be and how his empire was inspired by his passion for MMA. I feel honored to be hanging with two giants in the industry—it’s almost a little surreal.
When we get back to the car, Jeff realizes he left his camera battery at home, and Nick is cool enough to drive us back to the house to get Jeff’s stuff. Since we are now running late, our original plan to train at El Niño Training Center in San Francisco changes to Combat Sports Academy in Dublin, Calif.
After we arrive, I begin stretching out Nick and getting him prepped until Cesar and Nick’s Sambo coach take over. As Nick is doing his thing, I’m introduced to the owner of the gym and after a short while, she is on my massage table herself to get work for a shoulder injury she sustained during competing in the CrossFit nationals. She’s a bad mama.
The owner’s husband approaches me after we finish and asks if I can work on one of their young fighters, a champion Muay Thai fighter named Claudio. He’s an awesome kid, very athletic and a good kicker and puncher. I work on his shoulder and am able to help relieve his pain with one 25-minute session.
Being with the right people at the right time helps in being able to work with the right people in the MMA industry. Although of course, it helps to be good at what you do, it helps a lot more when you make the right connections. Because of Nick, everyone seems to embrace my work and I owe a lot to him. But I have to say, I have worked hard to be where I am today. Self-made, baby.
Back at Nick’s house, the rest of the team walks in after Nate’s practice is over. They were practically gone the whole day, just like us. It’s all about training in the Gracie camp. There’s no part-timers, only full-time fighters. They live it, breathe it. Everybody sacrifices for the team.
Nick gets on my massage table and I do some body work on him. When I finish, it’s around 3:30 a.m.—time to clock out—but Nick gets onto his computer to watch some more GSP fights. I can sense how badly he wants to beat this guy, how much he wants to hurt him. Bad blood runs deep.
It’s been another long day—we got a lot done—but I have to go home tomorrow. And while I don’t want to leave camp, it’s different this time—family first. Nick understands.
Jose Garcia is a combat sports recovery coach at the American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) headquarters in San Jose, Calif., ranked one of the five top MMA gyms in the world. He is also the co-owner of Body by Jose at Lifestyle Health and Fitness in Oakley, Calif. Garcia specializes in “combat sports recovery”―his unique brand of therapeutic body maintenance that allows athletes to perform at their maximum potential. His client roster includes the top names in Mixed Martial Arts, bodybuilding and endurance competitions. Find him on the web at www.bodybyjose.com and Facebook.com/BBJatLifestyle and on Twitter: @bodybyjose.
Also, Jose was a guest on Pro MMA Now Radio Sunday night, Feb. 24. You can listen to the archived replay or download the episode on iTunes or Stitcher.