Renowned coach Cesar Gracie is a lot of things for polarizing welterweight Nick Diaz – a trainer, a mentor, a father-figure, and now apparently a spokesperson. Gracie, who has stood up for Diaz publicly before, finally broke the silence surrounding the 28-year old’s decision to not show up for a scheduled grappling match this past weekend.
While Gracie expressed disappointment in a written statement published late last night he also made it clear he understood where his star pupil was coming from given the lack of professionalism he received from the organization hosting the bout.
According to Gracie, the issues influencing Diaz’s decision related to opponent Braulio Estima being presented as someone with no interest in a MMA career as well as the Brazilian’s weight-related demands. Originally Diaz’s camp had been told Estima was purely focused on grappling as a means of quelling their concerns about a BJJ-based win being used as a means of self-promotion in the MMA field. When they learned he had started training for an eventual MMA debut a red flag went up. Estima also failed to make an agreed-upon weight the night before the match-up, adding to Diaz’s displeasure with how things were being handled.
However, that doesn’t mean Gracie let Diaz off the hook for his role in the matter.
“Nick is not without fault by any means. His lack of communication with his team and coach was inexcusable. This will be addressed privately,” wrote Gracie.
Gracie also added Diaz donated a sum equal to that of his purse from the event to St. Jude’s Hospital as he’d planned to do with his winnings.
The full body of Gracie’s statement can be found below:
My decision to write an account of what happened this weekend is not to answer to the detractors of myself or my team, as no explanation is owed them. It is instead based on my acknowledgement and respect to our fans and supporters. I never thought I would be answering for something that happened at a grappling tournament, however with the worldwide popularity of the sport and my team increasing, I understand that our supporters need answers.
Below is a compilation of events in chronological order. I included the behind the scenes problems we had to let you, our supporters, know how things deteriorated.
In the month of February I was contacted by a Brazilian named Junior asking me if I wanted to participate in an Expo\Jiu-jitsu tournament. The goal was to put one of our team’s stars in the event to attract sponsors and ensure it was successful. The event was not that far away and they desperately needed exposure. Junior stated that he was working with my uncle Rilion and my cousin Renzo on this project and they were in fact partners. Rilion and Renzo are 2 people that I greatly admire and respect and I was more than happy to partner up with them. I discussed the idea with Nick Diaz and he readily agreed to enter in the black belt gi division. He did not seek any reimbursement. Junior thought it better for Nick to do a super fight as he thought this would be more of a spectacle and bring in more attention.Nick was not as enthusiastic but agreed on the condition that whoever was picked to go against him was not a MMA fighter. He knew even a mediocre MMA fighter would try to use a match and/or victory over him to further their career in MMA. Nick believes a reputation as a fighter should only be earned in a ring or cage.
I relayed this to Junior and he agreed to arrange for a strict jiu-jitsu competitor.
In March I received the disturbing news from Rilion that Junior had broken his agreement with him. Rilion stated to me that Junior was registering all World Jiu-jitsu Expo names under his name alone and was no longer taking his phone calls. When contacted by me, Junior stated that he would no longer honor his financial obligations to Rilion because “Rilion was doing nothing and treats me like one of his clerks”.
He then went on a tirade about Rilion which I interrupted and reminded him that Rilion was my family member and I would not listen to someone speaking negatively about him.
This rift left me in a dilemma. My instinct was to sever ties immediately. Rilion was my original jiu-jitsu instructor and his reputation as an honest person was impeccable. On the other hand we had already committed Diaz and Caio Terra. Our removal would destroy an event Renzo provided all of the funding for.
I consulted with Rilion who advised me to move forward with the event. He was the one that had brought Renzo into this project and convinced Renzo to fund it. He also still believed in the idea of an American tournament that paid the best BJJ guys on the planet to showcase their skills. We agreed to move forward without him since at this stage Junior had entrenched himself and his removal was impossible. Lastly Rilion warned me that Junior was not to be trusted and would undoubtedly try to cheat me and Renzo.
In early April I got the call from Junior asking what I thought of a Braulio Estima vs Nick Diaz matchup. I had heard of Braulio and knew he was a formidable jiu-jitsu practitioner. I was under the impression that Braulio competed in the close to 200lbs weight category.
When I asked Junior he assured me that Braulio could weigh in as little as 175 lbs right before the match.
I presented his information to Nick who accepted the matchup and seemed happy to go against the top BJJ player in the world at that weight. Nick started training for the match and I brought up several BJJ black belts to compliment his training.
Looking through some of Estima’s YouTube videos, it was soon discovered that he had in fact been planning on entering upon a career in MMA. We wondered if the match with Diaz was a way to create a buzz around him and get him signed with a prominent organization.
I called Junior who assured me Estima would not be fighting in MMA and that he had spoken with him and been assured he had given up on the idea of ever fighting. Junior reiterated, “Cesar I spoke with Braulio, the guy is in his 30?s, he has a family and doesn’t want to live that type of life at this stage in his life…etc”
I repeated this info to Nick. A week or so later it was all over the Internet that Braulio had joined the “Blackzillians” and was training for a MMA fight. We had been lied to. Furthermore it was evident that Nick’s sole condition that he not go against a wanna be MMA guy was violated and this was in fact an attempt by Braulio to ignite an MMA career.Nick was to have been accurately portrayed as a fighter returning to his BJJ roots. He had even agreed to give his entire purse to charity; St Jude’s Children’s Hospital for kids with cancer. If you know the story of Ralph Gracie’s son you would understand why this charity was chosen. Nick’s name having been added to this event had saved it but now it was clear he was to be the patsy, not respected but used.
Despite all of this Nick was still going to compete. He brought up Kron Gracie and prepared himself. Around this time I was informed by Junior that Braulio wanted to weigh in the day before and not right before the match as is the custom in IBJJ competitions and Abu Dhabi. At the time Nick was about 186lbs so I consented to both guys weighing in at 180lbs the night before.
Nick boarded a plane on Friday for Long Beach having cut 6 pounds for the weigh in that night. On his way there I got a call from Junior telling me Braulio would not be making weight! ”Cesar Braulio is complaining about the weight cut. Can we have him weigh in tomorrow? He can’t make the weight tonight how about 185 in the morning?”
Nick arrives in Long Beach to the news that there will be no weigh ins that night. As a professional with over 30 fights this was the final straw. The disrespect and total lack of professionalism given him convinced him he was at a circus not a professional event.
At 3:20 in the morning I received a text from Junior that Braulio would in fact make the 180lbs weight class at 10:00AM. With no other option available I said fine I’ll check with Nick in the morning. At 10:00AM Braulio did weigh in at 180lbs but by that time Nick had already left.
As a Brazilian I love Brazil but not all things Brazilian. In the last decade I have witnessed Brazilian cronies running the IBJJF and making it impossible for Americans to get a fair shake when competing against their Brazilian countrymen. These cronies have instituted rules to where if you miss weight by even half a pound you are disqualified and not refunded your entry fee. They gladly keep your money and treat you like crap in your country because they can. One of these cronies (Junior) decided to bend all the rules for Braulio Estima and treat Nick Diaz like crap. Sorry that didn’t work out here.
As for Braulio I still respect him as a great BJJ artist. As far as calling Nick out for a MMA fight, he knows that is impossible because Nick is signed with the UFC and in MMA you have to make weight when they want you to. Not when you want to. If Braulio ever finds success in MMA then he can mention Nick’s name for a fight. Right now he should respect the man.
Nick is not without fault by any means. His lack of communication with his team and coach was inexcusable. This will be addressed privately.
Renzo and I have spoken and we are committed to continuing with this otherwise awesome event….without the services of Junior.
It should be noted that Nick paid to St Jude’s Children’s Hospitable the sum of what would have been his entire purse.
You have my apologies and my respect
PHOTO CREDIT – HDNET/STRIKEFORCE