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World Jiu-Jitsu Expo Organizer 'Junior' Says Nick Diaz Backed Out Due to Fear

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Placing the blame squarely on the shoulders of the participant that abandoned the competition, World Jiu-Jitsu Expo co-founder Nalty Junior pointed at Nick Diaz as the sole cause of the breakup of the show's proposed superfight matchup with Braulio Estima.

Appearing on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour, Junior said that he personally believed Diaz's sudden, unannounced departure from the Long Beach, California event came due to one reason: fear.

"In my opinion, man, he chose to not take the challenge," he said. "It wasn’t going to be an easy fight for him, and he just got scared. He knew, 'I’m going to get choked. I will tap.'"

Junior was the man fingered by Diaz's manager and trainer Cesar Gracie through a personal statement and in subsequent interviews as the source of the confusion and unprofessionalism that led to Diaz bailing on the anticipated grappling match.

According to Gracie, various weights and weigh-in times were thrown around, and Diaz eventually left to frustration that Estima would not be making the agreed-upon weight on Friday night.

Junior, though said it was Gracie who "chose the rules," and that "everything was in place" after consulting with Gracie.

His account was confirmed by Renzo Gracie, who called into the show during Junior's interview.

"Everything I heard was right on point," Renzo Gracie said.

Renzo Gracie confirmed that Estima made 180 pounds on Saturday morning -- most jiu-jitsu matches have same-day weigh-ins -- and that everything done was "by the book."

Asked then why Diaz would leave under those conditions, Renzo Gracie compared him to a famous Brazilian musician named Tim Maia, who had a reputation for missing his own performances.

"I went to three of his shows so I could watch him once," he said. "So maybe Nick Diaz is the Tim Maia of fighting. You have to go see him three times to watch him once."

Renzo Gracie noted that he felt from the beginning that matching Diaz up with Estima was unfair, given Estima's singular focus on Brazilian jiu-jitsu along with his decorated resume. And he noted that Nalty might have massaged the situation with Diaz a little differently if he had more experience promoting events.

But in the end, Renzo Gracie said Nalty shouldn't receive a shred of blame, even saying he would personally vouch for Junior.

"if Junior wants to do an event and needs a letter of recommendation, I'm writing one right away," he said. "And for sure, this isn't the first and last event we're doing together. I do intend to keep doing the Expo. I do intend to keep making it grow every year, and I want Junior involved. If Junior is not going to be involved, I'm not doing it."

Cesar Gracie had said that he was still willing to try to put together the Diaz-Estima superfight, but only if Junior isn't a part of the setup. Junior, though, said that he does intend to keep producing Expos, saying that jiu-jitsu needs an event like it to grow in popularity. He just wishes that Diaz would man up and explain his decision rather than leaving everyone hanging.

"Nick Diaz is the only fighter who doesn’t speak for himself," he said. "Cesar, you always do anything to clean Nick Diaz's mess. That’s his job and how he makes his money. He does the dirty work, that’s my opinion. Everybody’s trying to protect Nick Diaz. That’s my point of view."

But as to whether the mess caused a rift between cousins Renzo and Cesar? Well, that ain't happening, either, according to Renzo.

The two are just too close, and have too much history together to be wedged apart by one confusing night.

"We may have different view on certain things, but at the end, the love that I have for him would overlook even if he’s a serial killer," Renzo said. "I’ll be digging holes with him. I’ll hit him with the shovel a couple times, but I’ll be digging holes with him. What else can I do?"

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