The last few days have been a whirlwind of media ops, press conferences, open workouts, and video shoots, all revolving around UFC 158, or as I like to call it, The Nick Diaz show. Nick, in his aggressive, no mincing of words fashion, has charmed his fans all over again, gaining a whole slew of new ones in the process.
In the past, Diaz has shown a reluctance to participate in scheduled media obligations, but seems to have decided to make the most of the golden opportunity, demonstrated by his complete takeover of the last two press conferences. Ever the work in progress, he's still managed to miss open workouts, and according to Dana White, presented some serious issues to the UFC Countdown show.
White, ever vocal on things involving his company, stated at yesterday's presser, that he felt Diaz' trainer, Cesar Gracie was part of the problem, going on to call Gracie a "dick" who plays games. I spoke with Cesar a few minutes ago, to get his take on White's comments, as well as Diaz' seemingly precarious career position within the UFC.
SD: It was abundantly clear that Nick got under Georges' skin at the presser yesterday. Do you think that type of psychological warfare is a sound tactic, designed to keep him off balance, or that it might have the reverse effect, sharpening his focus, thus making him a more dangerous opponent to Nick?
CG: You know, it really wasn't a tactic from our camp. Nick just says what he feels. There's no filter between his heart and his mouth. He's going to say what he feels at the time, and it's just a consequence of that. Whether it's going to help or hinder, I have no idea. It's whatever.
SD: How do you feel about Dana's comments towards you, and him basically throwing you under the bus?
CG: It's kind of childish really, and it came out of left field. I think it started when I had mentioned the thing about possibly upgrading Nick's plane ticket from coach to business class. I had tweeted that because I thought these fighters that do the main event fights, and make the promotions millions of dollars, they need to be treated a little bit better. I thought it was not a big deal on my part to point that out. It started with that.
I think later, it was something he said about Nick and Nate being late to their interviews, costing the company over $50,000. I questioned that a little bit, and talked about it in an interview. They got their stuff done. They were a little late with it, but costing $50k seemed a little ridiculous.
It just kind of set Dana on a rant about those two things. This is a free country, and people can have their own opinions. If he wants to try to act like a baby about it, that's his prerogative. I've always been cool with Dana, so this kind of came out of left field for me.
To address the issue about me being part of the problem, the thing he has to understand, and I think, for the most part, he does understand, that the Diaz' are gonna do what they're gonna do. I can't make them do something different. I will tell them what they need to do, I'll say what Dana wants them to do, but as far as making grown men do something that they don't want to do, it's very difficult, and there's nothing I can actually do about that. I think Dana knows that, so I don't really understand why he's trying to put a spin on it, saying I'm part of the problem, as if I'm the one telling them not to do something, which is absolutely ridiculous, and the farthest thing from the truth.
SD: Do you think that the UFC should reduce the amount of media obligations for fighters?
CG: We definitely have to do media obligations to sell fights, but sometimes there's a conflict of interest. They got Nick the ticket, he gets to Canada at midnight, and then he has to go through customs, and then he has to work out, because he's been on a plane for I don't know how many hours. It's a whole day of travel, so he has to work out because he's cutting weight.
Nick didn't get in until like 5 am after his workout. They had the media thing, which they wanted him to be in the lobby at 1030 am. There's going to be conflicts like that, and Nick wasn't trying to disrespect anybody. He loves his fans.
They just need to be a little bit more understanding, and maybe get together with the fighters when they put these schedules together. What's going to work guys? What is going to have the least impact on your training and your weight cut? What is going to have the least impact on all these things that are going to affect you in your fight? Nick wants to be 100% on Saturday, so he can have the best fight he can. I know the other fighters, privately, they've told us they love it, because someone is actually doing what they should be doing. That's Nick Diaz.
SD: Dana has come out and said that if Nick tests positive for marijuana again, that he'll likely be released. Do you think it's fair for Dana to speculate publicly on the fighters' career futures, shortly before their fights?
CG: I don't agree with speculating on stuff like that before a fight. It's not a huge deal, but I wish he hadn't done that. As far as cutting Nick Diaz, it's like cutting your own throat. It doesn't make sense. He's huge for the UFC. He's a polarizing figure. Some people love him, some people hate him. I think they all respect him, however. He's a huge asset for any fight organization to have, and he would be picked up immediately by any other organization. I don't think that a promoter should ever theorize on cutting a guy that's headlining a card. It doesn't make any sense to me.
You can follow Cesar via his Twitter account, @CesarGracieBJJ
Disclaimer: The opinions stated in this interview are totally those of the subject and do not reflect the opinion of Steph Daniels, Bloody Elbow, SBNation or Vox Media.