Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
Perhaps Nick Diaz isn't the only one who wants out of his current role. On a Monday interview on The MMA Hour, Diaz's manager Cesar Gracie said that the demands of managing have him considering pulling back that responsibility, as long as he can find capable hands to guide the career trajectory of his top charge.
Gracie, a longtime trainer/manager/father figure type for Diaz, isn't interested in completely splitting with Diaz. He'd still like to coach him in the gym, but when asked if he wanted to keep managing Nick and his brother Nate, he hesitated to say yes.
"I’m going to have a discussion, especially with Nick," he said. "I need to make sure we're on the same page with everything. Sometimes, the stress of doing something is a little bit crazy, and I do the best I can but it's kind of stressful. Then I have to ask, It this worth it to even do this? Maybe if there was somebody who could do this job that Nick or Nate -- if they wanted to go -- that they could really trust, that might be a good thing. But again, that's a personal thing between us."
His statement comes in the aftermath of critical comments made by UFC president Dana White, who called Gracie a "d---," and a "huge part of the problem" when it comes to Diaz's issues with lateness and professionalism with regards to his UFC promotional duties.
Gracie said White's broadside came "from left field," and that the two had always had a good relationship. He surmised White was angered by a tweet he had made about upgrading Diaz's plane ticket to business class, but said they had already spoken about that, and believed it be water under the bridge.
"I would love to have a talk with him," he said. "I thought him saying that about me being the words he used and everything, I thought it was childish. If you have a problem with someone, maybe he should say that to my face, and we can resolve it as two men, any way he wants to resolve it. But to say it in the media, and use high school language, it was kind of silly."
The White-Gracie narrative stole some headlines during a week that was otherwise nearly all about Diaz.
The welterweight title challenger ultimately came up short in a decision to champion Georges St-Pierre. Afterward, he voiced the possibility of walking away from the sport, though he did qualify that remark by noting a couple of big fights could sway him to stay.
Gracie said due to the emotion of the moment, he wouldn't put too much stock in Diaz's proclamation of retirement. He did, however, agree with Diaz's thoughts on the way he's matched up in the future.
"I kind of understand his mentality," he said. "A lot of times with the UFC, they say, you've got to fight this kid, he's coming up, he's 2-0 in the UFC. There's absolutely no motivation to do stuff like that. I think with Nick, that's what he's thinking. If he has to fight some of these young guys who really haven’t put their time into the UFC and in MMA in general, it's just not a motivational thing for you. I'd rather see him something like Wanderlei Silva. Big fights. Wanderlei could lose 10 fights in a row, and they're going to put him in a big fight. That's how they feel about Wanderlei. And Vitor Belfort. Vitor would win a fight and he's fighting for the title next. The respect level given to these guys that have been doing this for so many years and put on so many fights. Nick, he's not as old as those guys, but he wants that kind of respect, and he wants big fights."
On Saturday, instead of working Diaz's corner, Gracie sat in the first row, watching as a spectator. He said that due to a severe cold, he had to wait an extra day to fly to Montreal, and even though he'd filed his paperwork to corner Diaz with the commission far in advance, they would not allow him to do so after missing the fighter's meetings, which usually includes all last-minute instructions. Instead, his cousin Kron Gracie took his place.
Cesar Gracie said that he thought Diaz performed well, but would have liked to see him turn up the pressure in the final rounds.
"I thought he did good," he said. "There was some stuff he could have done better to win that fight. It's almost like with him he has to prove something. The last couple rounds, he was trying to show he could stop a takedown. I think what he thought was, 'This guy's not hitting me hard,' but it doesn't look good for the judges. So I think he could’ve stepped it up a little bit more in the later rounds and thrown more punches to St-Pierre's face and body. And have Nick in a lower stance so he wouldn't get taken down while he was throwing punches. Just been more active because it looked like GSP was slowing down himself. And I thought if Nick really pushed it, he might be able to get a TKO or something."
Gracie, also tried to clear up some of Diaz's post-fight comments about never paying taxes to the IRS, saying he knows for fact that Diaz has made hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax payments over the years.
At one point, Gracie voiced the same confusion about Diaz's many puzzling statements as others have, acknowledging that the fighter uses "a weird form of communication."
But for Gracie and Diaz, it's a relationship over a decade in the making, and even though Diaz is threatening an end to his career, Gracie is trying to look at the bright side of things, and to get Diaz to do the same. From a poor city and born on the wrong side of the tracks, Diaz has had friends he grew up with die and others go to jail. So even though he lost a fight, he's still a success story.
"Let’s keep on the positive," he said. "It's easy to get negative on a lot of stuff, but I believe we need to be more thankful in life. That’s how I feel about it. I think with Nick, he’s learning. He got a late start with learning things in life but that’s what I like to push him to. It’s like, Hey, man, you’re still young. You got the future in front of you. You can fight big fights, you can make money. Why don't you get married, have kids? Do whatever, man. Life is good."
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