"If Nick is 100% on, he is the best in the world. If you put Nick somewhere and you say, 'the winner is the fighter that comes out of this cage,' guess who is coming out? Nick Diaz is coming out of that cage. I don't care if it's Georges St-Pierre or whatever. I know he can lose a fight and I know in X amount of rounds this guy can outpoint him, but I know that Nick is a true fighter. He's a warrior wherever he goes," stated Cesar Gracie as he spoke about Nick Diaz and his upcoming clash with Mushin Corbbrey this Saturday. You don't want to miss what else he had to say as he talked more about the Diaz brothers and shared his thoughts on BJ Penn, Georges St-Pierre, Anderson Silva, Jake Shields, Matt Hughes, Frank Shamrock, the EliteXC debut on CBS, a Diaz-Gomi rematch and much more.
PC: Thanks for your time Cesar. How is everything going?
CG: Everything is going good man. I can't complain; life is great!
PC: When you see a guy who has been as dominant as Matt Hughes has been get dominated in his last couple of outings, do you think it is time for him to start contributing to the sport in other ways?
CG: Well, yeah, and I know a guy like Matt already has. He has his a gym and he's teaching now and that's his way of doing it. I don't think he should necessarily retire. I don't think he's going to be a top 10 fighter much longer, if he is at all anymore really. Age does that to you, you know? You slow down and you're just not that same guy that you used to be when you were 25 or 26 years old when you're in your mid-30's. As far as when you retire, it's like, do you still want to fight or not? Is it in your blood, do you still have fun with it and do you still enjoy to get up and train? That's what you have to ask yourself. It's not, "No, I'm not as good as I used to be, I should retire." I hear some people say that and that's not if people still want to watch you fight, then you should fight; that's my take on it.
PC: Frank Shamrock fought Cung Le not too long ago. Were you surprised with his gameplan to not take Cung Le to the ground?
CG: No. I mean, he couldn't take Cung down. The problem with Frank is he's not a wrestler and Cung is a wrestler. Cung trained at my gym a few years ago and he's a real strong guy and everything. I think he won high school state or something like that. He has a wrestling background. He's not easy to take down and Frank doesn't have the credentials to take Cung Le down so he was kind of forced to stand with him. Cung Le is probably the more accomplished of the two, but I thought it was a great fight. Frank had his moments in the 3rd round. He stunned Cung a couple of times. He started finding his range with the right hand. He couldn't find it for a while, but unfortunately, when he found it, it was too late. The arm was already broken and it went down hill from there.
PC: You and your family have been around this sport for so long. We recently had an MMA card on CBS. Did you think this sport would make it this far?
CG: I did. I really did. Back in the day, I figured at some point, it was going to keep growing until it was mainstream. It takes a while for a sport to grow in this country, with football, basketball, baseball and everything having a lockdown on everything. Once you become a MMA fan, it takes up a lot of your time and it can be pretty exciting because the stakes are higher. You go to a baseball game and you go home, but when you go to a fight even if you win a fight, you get beat up and if you lose a fight, you get your ass kicked most of the time. And there is a finality to it. There is a finality to it that you don't get in other sports. I think that's what makes it exciting and I think more and more people are going to appreciate the sport.
PC: It's received some criticism, but do you feel like the CBS card was a good representation of the sport?
CG: It wasn't the best representation, but I think people are making a lot about nothing on that. Hey, props to them; they got on CBS. A lot of people wanted to watch it. I mean, 6 million people tuned in. People want to say Kimbo Slice wasn't the best representation and so what. Did you see the last UFC? Was that a good representation of the sport? I think competition is healthy and it will bring the sport up. EliteXC is only getting better and better and that's the way of the world. Who wants to see a monopoly? I love the UFC too, but I hope they're not the only organization out there and they have this monopoly where you're forced to take their contract because there's nothing else out there. I think it will make the UFC get better. It's like let's only have GM. You can't have Ford or any of these other companies out there that will make General Motors Car Company better.
PC: Being involved with this sport for so long Cesar, what do you see as the biggest difference now as opposed to when you first got involved?
CG: It's gotten more well-rounded. Back in the day, you only did one thing. If you did stand-up, then that's it; wrestling, that's it; Jiu Jitsu. It's mixed martial arts now and you're forced to do all of this other stuff; stand-up, wrestling, takedown defense, Jiu Jitsu, leg locks, armbars or whatever. I think people are finally a lot more well-rounded is what it is. There is not one fighter out there that does not study Jiu Jitsu, number one. It doesn't happen. I mean, why would you want to get tapped out? If you study Jiu Jitsu, you know how to get out of trouble; at least you know enough not to get tapped out and maybe you could stand up and knock the guy out. I think the variety of learning everything has changed. I think people today are more professional athletes because guys are doing this for a living. It's not a hobby. It's not like, "I have a job doing this and every now and then, I go train at the gym." You're getting guys now where, as the pay comes up, this is what they do for a living and that's all they do for a living.
PC: Nate Diaz seems to be on a pretty good roll since winning The Ultimate Fighter show. How pleased are you with his progress?
CG: It's been awesome for me. Nathan and Nick are like my little brothers kind of. To see them and what they're doing is exciting. I know that no one trains as hard as these guys. Watching Nathan in his last fight when I was out there in Colorado with him, seeing him coming out, the fans was just I mean, they really love that kid. They know he has a good heart. He comes out and goes 100%. He leaves everything out there in the cage. He doesn't leave anything behind. He tries it, he goes for it and he's not a wussy guy. He takes his beating like a man and he keeps going. He doesn't stop and then he beats the guy up. I'm 100% proud of that guy. One thing about Nathan, and his brother for that matter, is if you know them, that's just what kind of people they are. They are the loyalist of friends. They are just great people. I'm very proud of them.
PC: We get a chance to see Nick Saturday night against Mushin Corbbrey. How much do you know about Corbbrey and how do you see this fight playing out?
CG: I think the guy is an athletic fighter. He does a lot of things Jiu Jitsu and he is a stand-up fighter. He's good at everything. Is he good enough to win? I don't know. It depends on who comes out with the better gameplan. If Nick is on if Nick is 100% on, he is the best in the world. If you put Nick somewhere and you say, "the winner is the fighter that comes out of this cage," guess who is coming out? Nick Diaz is coming out of that cage. I don't care if it's Georges St-Pierre or whatever. I know he can lose a fight and I know in X amount of rounds this guy can outpoint him, but I know that Nick is a true fighter. He's a warrior wherever he goes. You put him in a cage and lock the door and say, "Hey man, you guys are going to fight, there is no time limit and the winner walks out," Nick will walk out of the cage man.
PC: Nick is taking a break from doing so many interviews and things before his fights. How much does that help him prepare for his fight?
CG: It helps a lot. Instead of sitting there doing interviews all of the time, he could be focusing on his fight. You have to do the PR thing too to let your fans know what's happening, but there has to be some kind of balance. A lot of times, there are people waking him up early in the morning to do an interview or something and he's trying to be helpful, but that's not the way to go. I tell him to be focused on his fight, do you're talking in the ring and go from there. That's what he's been doing.
PC: From what I hear, you have one of the tougher Black Belts to get. When a young fighter comes to you, can you tell right away if they're going to be special?
CG: Yes. You can distinguish it, but sometimes you get a guy and you look at him and you say, "This guy is going places; he's got what it takes," and then he'll prove you wrong. And he'll prove you wrong because he has all of the athleticism and the natural aspect of what it's going to take, but he doesn't have the work ethic, endurance and the perseverance to be a champ and a great fighter. Sometimes you'll get a guy and you don't pay a lot of attention to him, but guess what, he keeps getting better and better and then all of a sudden, you're paying attention to him and then you look a couple of years down and you go, "This is one of the best guys here," and that's because he didn't come in with all of the natural gifts, but he had such perseverance and endurance that he just blossomed out. A lot of these guys that are great, they just don't have the work ethic. It comes easy to them. It's kind of like you see some and you hope they stay with it and other guys, they just kind of surprise you.
PC: Who are some of the guys that you enjoy watching in MMA?
CG: Obviously I have guys from my gym. Obviously Nick and Nate because their game is so exciting. The pressure and everything that they bring is crazy stuff. The Gomi-Nick fight was probably my favorite fight of all time.
PC: Yes, mine too. That was actually #1 on our "Top 10 Fights That We Need To See In MMA" list; Diaz-Gomi 2.
CG: That was just an incredible fight, but who knows, I'm working on it and I think you guys might see the rematch in the future, hopefully by 2009; that's what we're working on. I love Jake Shields' pressure game. Gilbert Melendez is a wildman; crazy fighter. I love watching him fight. Outside of my camp, I like BJ Penn because he's got good hands, good takedown defense, good takedowns, top notch Jiu Jitsu and he's probably the most well-rounded fighter out there; the most athletic guy. Then you get guys that just come in such amazing shape, like GSP. I like to watch St-Pierre fight because he's just in such good shape. He's not as good as BJ technically, but he'll grind you to where he could beat BJ if he doesn't come in at 100 %. Of course you have to go with a guy like Anderson Silva. He's got so many tools and he hurts you. That guy hurts you when he hits you. That's probably the 3 guys that I really like to watch. I have a lot of other ones, obviously I'm a fan of the sport, but those are my main 3. There are a lot of guys I like.
PC: I know you're a very busy man. I appreciate your time and it was an honor my man. Is there anything else you want to say?
CG: No, that's it man. Thanks for having me on.
[ Follow Percy Crawford on Twitter @MrFighthype ]