Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
LONG BEACH, Calif. -- The request rang out over the public address system at the Long Beach Convention Center several times Saturday night: "Will Nick Diaz please report to the registration table?"
But the call was never heeded.
Diaz, mixed martial arts' most enigmatic figure, no-showed his planned submission grappling main event against decorated jiu-jitsu star Braulio Estima.
Diaz, who had previously announced that he was going to donate his purse from the bout to the St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital of Memphis, left behind a disappointed capacity crowd at the World Jiu-Jitsu Expo and one angry, jilted opponent.
"I know he's supposed to be the big MMA bad guy and he's all tough, he's supposed to be showbiz, but what is this?" said Estima, who won two gold medals at the 2009 ADCC tourney and is a three-time World Championship gold medalist. "When you make an announcement that you're going to fight for charity and you don't show up, what the hell is going on? It's not about showbiz. It's about being a good person. I don't know what is going on."
The first hints of potential controversy came when Estima weighed in at 189 pounds on Friday for a bout that was supposed to be 180. Both camps agreed the fight would continue if Estima weighed in at 185 on Saturday morning, which he did.
"I'm a professional athlete. I never thought he wouldn't show up," said Estima. "I came from the U.K., I made the weight, I made 185 pounds, I didn't expect him to not show up. I don't understand why he'd run away."
Diaz's trainer, Cesar Gracie, told MMAFighting.com's Ariel Helwani that his fighter, who is under suspension from MMA due to failing a drug test after his UFC 143 loss to Carlos Condit, had issues with Estima missing weight.
"I don't know," Gracie said. "I know he was mad when he was told Braulio would not make weight last night. No one has seen him today. Braulio ended up making weight this morning."
The event proceed as planned after Diaz missed his check-in with event officials. The remainder of the card went off while officials attempted to find Diaz. BJJ star Robert Drysdale offered to take Diaz's place, but Estima did not want to meet a substitute opponent.
Estima showed up on the main mat as scheduled, and then the announcement was made to the crowd that Diaz had no-showed, putting a damper on what had been a successful event.
"Braulio wouldn't accept anyone else as an opponent," said event spokesman Renzo Gracie. "It was set up for Braulio to fight Nick, and unfortunately it didn't happen."
Estima was disturbed enough with the situation that he offered, on multiple occasions, to fight Diaz in a mixed martial arts bout. Estima has no professional MMA experience, but trains in the sport with the Blackzilian camp.
"I'll fight him in MMA. If maybe he feels more comfortable there, I'll do it. ... I gave up a lot of things to make this to happen. I came here to fight, you said you were going to be here, were going to give your purse to charity. It is very disrespectful."
With Stockton, Calif.'s most famous resident nowhere to be found, those left behind were left to speculate at what may have caused the latest chapter in Diaz's well-documented history of bizarre incidents.
"I think he got anxious with the whole situation," Renzo Gracie said. "Braulio is at the top of his game. I knew something like this could happen."
"It's a shame," said Estima. "I'm sorry on his behalf that the show didn't happen. All you guys, I was really looking forward to it. Unfortunately, it didn't happen. It's a shame, it's disrespectful for me, and for the sport, and for the kids in his charity."
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