clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Cesar Gracie, The Diabolical Genius Calling The UFC's Welterweight Shots

New, 19 comments

Cesar Gracie pulled off back-to-back matchmaking coups in less than five weeks, masterfully getting his prized fighter, Nick Diaz, into two UFC main events and a title shot against Georges St. Pierre. He had some help along the way, but his behind-the-scenes manipulation was pure genius.

Photo by Esther Lin for Showtime via <a href=""></a>
Photo by Esther Lin for Showtime via

Cesar Gracie called his (title) shot.

Even before his fiery, foul-mouthed fighter, Nick Diaz, reluctantly laid the beating of a lifetime on his conditional friend, B.J. Penn, in the UFC 137 main event, Gracie predicted that the Stockton, California-bred scrapper would next challenge Georges St. Pierre for his 170-pound belt.

It's been all pure insanity. Five weeks ago Diaz was not only pulled from the original UFC 137 main event, but company president Dana White suggested he wasn't sure whether or not Diaz could ever handle the promotional pressure of headlining a high-profile pay-per-view (PPV).

Ever, as in never, ever.

Diaz certainly didn't go out of his way to remedy those concerns. He showed up nearly an hour late for the pre-fight press conference call after his fight with Penn was bumped to the top of the marquee when "Rush" went down with a knee injury that forced the cancellation of his title defense against Carlos Condit.

Yes, the same Carlos Condit, the saving grace, who heroically stepped in for Diaz when his psychological pressure cooker went pop.

Even getting Diaz to Las Vegas, Nevada, was a laborious chore. He once again missed his first scheduled flight out of town, bringing his total to three (that we know of) throughout this entire ordeal. The moment he set foot in "Sin City," the promotion celebrated by flashing an image of him completing paperwork, assuaging perhaps their own concerns with photo evidence Diaz did indeed show up for fights.

A fight, mind you, Diaz hated. And he told just about everyone who would listen at the open media workout fighting Penn was not a fight he would have picked. Penn, too, lamented the match up.

The only person who seemingly didn't, and the one responsible for making it happen in the first place, was none other than Cesar Gracie. Penn revealed Gracie "hoodwinked" him into signing the bout agreement via misleading text messages, which he then used to convince Diaz to do the same.

Diaz admitted he never would have signed first to fight Penn. The truth of the matter is he never had to -- Gracie had already taken care of that seemingly insignificant item and likely used it as fuel to fire up his reluctant fighter.

But Gracie didn't stop there. Not only was he the puppet master pulling the strings on the UFC 137 main event, but he started to make the case for a fight against St. Pierre if Diaz could defeat Penn convincingly at the Mandalay Bay Events Center.

White scoffed at the idea when it was presented to him, saying Condit and his title shot in Feb. 2012 were "safe" regardless of the outcome. White wasn't about to go back on his word and reshuffle another welterweight title fight to include Diaz -- essentially making the same mistake twice -- when he had a reliable, talented and the cooperative "Natural Born Killer" waiting in the wings.

He seemingly couldn't fathom the possibility at the time. Hell, Diaz had done little to make him think otherwise. His public regrets about not pursuing a career in boxing, and his revelation he could walkaway from the sport at anytime, in addition to everything else already mentioned, certainly did not help his cause.

Meanwhile, getting Diaz the title shot he initially squandered was seemingly all Gracie could think about. And it all boiled over for the world to see the moment Diaz was announced the winner, which also caused the bloody and beaten Hawaiian to prematurely announce his retirement.

It was an unexpected, albeit momentary, welcomed exclamation point Gracie needed to frame his MMA matchmaking masterpiece.

Gracie immediately barked into Diaz's ear post-fight, telling him repeatedly and aggressively to "Call the mother f*cker out!" He was talking about St. Pierre. Diaz obliged, and then some, striking a sensitive nerve with the Canadian sitting ringside, who he accused of faking his injury.

That apparently went way over the line for the soft-spoken champion, who encouraged White to insert the "disrespectful" Diaz instead of Condit, which he did before the night was even over. White, along with St. Pierre, got so wrapped up in Diaz's moment that conventional wisdom and rational thinking were utterly annihilated.

And just like that, Gracie called his improbable (title) shot against all odds. Insanity? More like diabolical brilliance initiated from the depths of despair.

Just like he planned it.