After all of the drama of the World Jiu-Jitsu Expo superfight that never was, both Braulio Estima and Nick Diaz's trainer Cesar Gracie say that they'd be willing to try again.
The first time around was an unmitigated disaster. Diaz flew into Long Beach, grew angered by an issue related to weigh-ins, and left without saying a word to anyone, much to the dismay of the assembled crowd as well as those who had paid to watch an online pay-per-view.
But, Gracie said, while Diaz "made a lot of mistakes" in choosing to abandon the competition unannounced, in his opinion, the majority of the blame belongs with the man who according to the show's official website, was in charge of marketing, Nalty Junior.
In a joint interview on the "Inside BJJ" podcast with Tim Freeman, both Estima and Gracie gave their viewpoints of the controversial weekend.
According to Gracie, the explosive issue that led to the fracture of the match was disarray related to the weigh-in.
He said that Junior had initially told their side that Estima could make 175 pounds, but a maximum of 180. According to Estima, Junior told him he could either weigh in at 180 pounds on Friday or 185 pounds on Saturday.
A sub-issue was the timing of the weigh-in. Because none of the other grappling "superfights" required weigh-ins, there was no contracted time to hit the scales.
Diaz landed in Long Beach on Friday night at 180 pounds, ready to weigh-in and eat, but Gracie says when Junior relayed the information to Estima, they eventually were told he would not be weighing in that night. Estima said that was because while in Long Beach, he heard nothing about the weigh-ins on Friday night, so decided to eat. At some point later in the night though, the two sides seemed to agree that he would hit 180 pounds on Saturday.
"Junior was too disorganized," Gracie said. "He was telling him one thing what he wanted to hear, and telling us a completely different thing, maybe what we wanted to hear."
Estima believed that because it was considered a "friendly" competition, the weigh-ins were not a big deal, a sentiment clearly not shared by Diaz.
Angered by the chaotic setup, he left without a word to anyone.
"We didn’t know Nick had left," Gracie said. "He does things on his own timing. He makes a decision and he doesn’t really talk to people about it. It’s something that needs to be fixed, but I didn’t know Nick wasn’t there. Nobody knew."
Gracie said that after he learned Diaz left, several Brazilian top jiu-jitsu competitors in attendance offered to step up in his place, but Estima turned them down.
Estima, who did not get paid for the event, essentially said that was because he had his heart set on a Diaz match. He noted his own personal sacrifices made in preparation, including a family vacation that was scaled back due to his training commitments and diet issues, as well as a 15-hour flight from abroad. In addition, he thought the prospect of facing off against Diaz was simply cool.
"I really wanted to take a picture with him, because actually, at the time, I was a big fan of him as a fighter," he said.
It's not clear if he's still a Diaz fan, as he called his unannounced exit "very disrespectful," but one thing that was obvious was that Estima is still very much interested in grappling with him on the mats, as long as there is a date, time, place and agreed-upon number set for the weigh-ins.
Gracie said he would still like to see the match happen as well, but noted that Diaz currently has his hands full with an upcoming Nevada state athletic commission meeting that will determine the immediate future of his MMA career.
"Right now, Nick is dealing with all this NSAC stuff, and it’s like they’re coming at him double-barreled, because he had the audacity to challenge them in court and everything, and say, 'get a lawyer," he said. "And they’re not used to doing that, so they’re coming at this guy crazy. We’ve got to deal with that stuff, make sure his head is right and everything. But I would love to see it. I’m sure he’d do it in the future, but it wouldn’t involve Junior."
As for Estima's Saturday night comment that he'd be willing to fight Diaz in MMA, well, he took that back, chalking it up as the disappointment talking.
"When I mentioned about the fight MMA with Nick Diaz, I was a little bit overheated," he said. "I think It is kind of a little bit over the top for me to say that to him. My idea I wanted to come across was, if he was around, I would show up."