By Zach Arnold | May 2, 2011
Cesar Gracie made an appearance on Brian Hemminger’s radio show yesterday to discuss how his stable of fighters performed at UFC 129 in Toronto. There was plenty of quality red meat put on the grill during this interview in terms of choice quotes.
“I thought Jake probably performed the best out of everybody because it looked to me like, you know, he… if that fight kept going, Jake wins, is what it looked like to me. He hurt St. Pierre, broke his nose, popped his eye, and I was really surprised how well he did standing with the guy. I got him with a new boxing coach, this guy named Mario, and the guy really tuned up Jake’s game. He was throwing a great jab. He landed the right hand a couple of times really hard and I really think it caught GSP off-track to see how good Jake has come along in the stand-up department. Props to GSP for having excellent takedown defense and making it a stand-up fight where he thought he will win, but Jake came out to fight and I thought he looked really good. GSP has beaten everybody else up for the most part and made it very lopsided in his wins and, even though he was able to take the fight where he wanted it and that was standing, it looked like Jake did very well standing, you know, on his feet with him.”
Scream all you want, but the reality is that two judges (Nelson ‘Doc’ Hamilton and Richard Berstrand) both scored the fight 48-47 in favor of GSP. Want to know the reason for the close scoring? Damage. Get used to hearing this argument.
Of course, Cesar admitted during his interview with Brian that they did not want the fight standing up and, conversely, that’s all this bout ended up featuring.
“Actually, we did want that fight on the ground because I truly believe that Jake is superior on the ground than GSP and I think even GSP believes that, so that’s why you saw him not really wanting to engage. Georges’ had a couple of good takedowns and from top position he decided to get back up because I think he realized he was fighting the superior grappler and, you know, props to him. Jake had a leg a couple of times, GSP got out very well, it looked like a couple of times his leg just kind of slipped right out of there, you know, so it must have been really slippery or something, I don’t know. So, yeah, he defended all the takedowns and made it a stand-up fight, so…”
Remember the moment where Jake asked Gilbert Melendez about pulling guard? Not part of the script.
“No, it wasn’t part of the game plan, actually. I think they were just wanting to bring it to the ground and he was wondering, ‘hey, do you want me to pull guard?’ and was asking it was a good idea and Gilbert said, no, you know. I think with Jake even his guard is so good he’ll reverse position if they, if, you know… He was trying to find a way, you know, finish this fight. It’s a tough, tough fight for anyone fighting GSP because the guy’s a master at the point fighting thing. He’ll go with his striking a little bit and if he’s not doing that great standing, he’ll take you down. If he thinks he can pass guard, he will and try for a submission, if not he’ll just sit there and throw some strikes. With Jake, he really didn’t want to do either of those so he decided to stand and try to out-point him standing, which is what he did and I thought it was close. Again, at the press conference, Jake was there not looking too bad at all and Georges was at the hospital, so I don’t know. I thought Jake did great, really the amount of pressure, both guys looked extremely nervous, both Jake & GSP coming into that with 55,000 people when they first got in there and, you know, it’s one of those things.”
After the fight, it was made clear that Dana White is very interested in booking GSP vs. Nick Diaz soon. He’s visiting young Mr. Diaz in Stockton this week. Luke Thomas reported that Nick, at the post-fight press conference, expressed interest in fighting St. Pierre.
So, what will it take to make it happen? What are the roadblocks Cesar sees in the way of making that fight?
“I don’t know how bad is GSP’s eye, is he going to take six months off? And then why couldn’t Nick box and then go fight GSP, for example, that kind of scenario. Now, if the eye if not a really big problem and they want the next fight for GSP five months from now to be Nick Diaz, I mean obviously Nick would be, uh… he would be delaying quite a contract, a money-making contract in boxing so how would that, is he going to give up that all that money… I mean there’s so many questions right now and really the only (people) that has the answers to it are, you know, Dana White and Lorenzo Fertitta, so I’m very much looking forward to meeting with those guys. Lorenzo’s a guy that I truly like the guy and Dana is a good guy, too, you know, a good businessman and we’re going to tell him our concerns and hopefully they have some answers for us and we’re waiting just like you guys.”
Translation: Make us an offer we can’t refuse.
As for how a battle between St. Pierre and Diaz would look if it was a stand-up war, we’ve seen GSP’s last two fights against Koscheck & Shields feature tons of stand-up. Cesar thinks that this kind of fight would be right in Nick’s wheelhouse.
“(Unlike other MMA fighters who throw wild haymakers) Nick doesn’t do that kind of style. What he’ll do is he’ll jab you. Some of them are very light, they just keeping touching you, touching you, you don’t know when the hard one’s coming in. Nick can throw a very hard punch, make no mistake about it. Most of his punches he’s just not throwing that hard in there. He times the hard shots. But he definitely hits very hard.
“Styles makes fights and I think, for example, Jake kind of, you know, he did really well standing. It’s no secret that Nick is, I think, probably has the best hands in MMA right now. He knocks out all the guys that are supposed to knock him out. There’s no question in my mind that GSP would not stand with Paul Daley, for example, but Nick did and knocked him out. Aside from all these guys that GSP would feel extremely threatened by, Nick would stand up with beat them up so I do not believe that GSP has better stand-up than Nick Diaz. I think Nick is the superior striker and if that was a stand-up I think Nick would come out on top. But it’s an interesting match-up because Nick’s jiu-jitsu is world-class, also. he has a great guard, he submits people, he doesn’t get hurt. That might be a nightmare for GSP and the only way to know that is if these two guys fight, so we’ll see what happens.”
If UFC management brings some briefcases full of cash to the Cesar Gracie camp, we probably will see Mr. Diaz fight Mr. St. Pierre as long as GSP doesn’t have serious eye damage. Let the hype train for that fight begin.