Above: Nick Diaz and Braulio Estima were supposed to meet in a no-gi superfight at the World Jiu-Jitsu Expo.
LONG BEACH, California — There are usually two sides to every story, especially when the story is controversial. That would certainly be the case on Saturday night when Nick Diaz, one of Jiu-Jitsu and MMA's most polarizing figures, added yet another incident to his already controversial reputation. In short, Diaz did not show up for his Jiu-Jitsu (No-Gi) superfight with multi-division ADCC world champion Braulio Estima at the World Jiu-Jitsu Expo.
It should be noted that Diaz is a very complex individual and one of the most enigmatic fighters on the planet. In the build up to his controversial UFC interim title fight with Carlos Condit in February, the UFC released a two-part UFC 143 Primetime television show highlighting the unique nuances of Diaz's life and personality, which gave the world a much better understanding to what makes him tick. After the controversial loss to Condit, Diaz announced his retirement from MMA and then faced a marijuana-related charge by the NSAC despite marijuana not being a performance-enhancing drug. Diaz has a medical marijuana prescription to help him deal with his social anxiety disorder. This is legal in his home state of California.
While many jiu-jitsu fans on Saturday night were quick to react by throwing blind insults and disparaging remarks Diaz's way, others were just as quick to point out that Estima had missed weight by 9-pounds the day before. The highly-anticipated superfight that never came to fruition then became an equally heated topic of debate among those in attendance at the World Jiu-Jitsu Expo. We were quick to gather a list of those points and arguments from several people on hand and will list their key points here to allow you to form your own opinion on the matter. While we would have much rather reported on the match itself, this debate should prove to be pretty intense as well.
Team Braulio says:
Team Braulio supporters have been very loud and clear in their distaste for Diaz not showing up for the scheduled superfight. These sentiments could be best summed up by Braulio himself. After it was announced that the superfight was canceled when Diaz was nowhere to be found, Estima delivered the following message to the media who surrounded him at the event:
"I know he's supposed to be the big MMA bad guy and he's all tough, he's supposed to be showbiz, but what is this?" He then added, "I'm a professional athlete. I never thought he wouldn't show up. I came from the U.K., I made the weight, I made 185 pounds, I didn't expect him to not show up. I don't understand why he'd run away."
Diaz's history of not showing up for things is something Team Braulio supporters are quick to point out as well. Last September, UFC president Dana White pulled Diaz from his scheduled UFC title shot against UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre, after Diaz failed to show up for two scheduled press conferences to promote the fight. Diaz has a well-documented case of social anxiety disorder, which caused him to no-show those two press conferences.
Team Braulio supporters are simply saying Diaz should have showed up for the superfight that so many people were excited about. Many others around the world paid $9.95 to watch the web PPV, but the low price tag was thankfully compensated by 50 minutes of world class jiu-jitsu involving 10 of the planet's best jiu-jitsu players. The Jeff Glover vs. Caio Terra match alone was worth the price of the stream and in reality, everyone paid less than $2 per match.
Fight Cards are always subject to change and often involve last minute hiccups, but the disappointment among Team Braulio supporters was clear for all to see. However, since Estima was the only one who showed up, he was also the only one of the two who got to share his thoughts and opinions on the matter. This made it even easier for people to criticize Diaz, since they never got to hear his side of the story.
Team Nick says:
Team Nick supporters in attendence were quick to point out the fact that Diaz agreed over a month ago to compete against Estima is a no-gi superfight at 180-pounds, which is a weight that Estima missed by nearly 10-pounds the day before the fight (he weighed in at 189-pounds on Friday). Estima weighed-in again on Saturday (the day of the fight) at 185-pounds (still 5-pounds over), while Diaz had already rehydrated and ate after making weight the day before. He was not willing to make weight two days in a row. Estima was quick to say that at Jiu-Jitsu tournaments people weigh-in the day of the event, but this was a no-gi superfight. ADCC, which is the most presitigious no-gi competition in the world, also makes you weigh-in the day before the event. Rani Yahya was disqualified from ADCC 2011 last September, after missing weight by 9-pounds the day before the event. This is exactly the same amount of weight Estima missed weight by on Friday.
Team Nick supporters were also quick to add that in more established sports, such as MMA and Boxing, weigh-ins are the day before the fight as well. Diaz has been a professional Mixed Martial Artist for nearly 11 years and has also participated in professional Boxing. Diaz has spent most of his career fighting at 170-pounds, but he has also competed at weights as low as 160-pounds for PRIDE and the EliteXC. The most he had ever competed at was 179-pounds against Frank Shamrock and 180-pounds against Scott Smith for Strikeforce in 2009.
Team Nick supporters also noted that Estima did not just fly in from the U.K. for this match, like he said immediately after the fight was canceled. He had been part of Rashad Evans' UFC 145 training camp in Boca Raton, Florida. Stuart Cooper made a short film that documented Estima's preparations for his superfight with Diaz. The footage included Evans, Mario Sperry, and other people who were helping Estima prepare for Diaz. Estima also mentioned in the video that he wanted to see what it's like to compete at a lower weight class before making his MMA debut later this year at 170-pounds.
That being said, Team Nick supporters led by Nick's coach Cesar Gracie were not surprised that Nick was upset that Estima did not arrive anywhere near the agreed upon weight. He thought returning to no-gi competition for the first time in 2 years and going up to 180-pounds to fight the best in the world at his own game (no-gi) would be enough of a challenge. Some were saying, Estima's people were offering Diaz 10% of his purse to take the fight anyway, but that would only amount to roughly $100 in what would be going to charity anyway.
Team Nick supporters also felt that Estima may have been trying to use this match to build up his own name right before his MMA debut later this year. They say he wanted to be the first man to tap Diaz, who is one of the most talked about fighters in the world today and was just in line for a UFC title shot. Diaz has never been submitted in MMA, Jiu-Jitsu, or Submission Grappling competition. In Cooper's short film above, Estima mentions how he actively sought out the fight with Diaz, after he read online that Diaz would be competing at the World Jiu-Jitsu Expo.
Finally, when Robert Drysdale offered to take Diaz's place, many jiu-jitsu aficionados got excited at the prospect of the ADCC 2007 absolute winner (Drysdale) facing the ADCC 2009 absolute winner (Estima) in what would be the epitome of a Jiu-Jitsu (No-Gi) superfight. However, Estima said he did not want to meet a substitute despite mentioning it was only going to be a fight for charity in the first place. This only heightened the suspicion of a lot of Team Nick supporters that he was only after Diaz's name and wasn't concerned with putting on a classic superfight. If the superfight was only for charity, then why wouldn't he just fight a fellow ADCC absolute champion in Drysdale?
Now that both sides of this debate have been thoroughly examined, who do you think is really to blame for this no-gi superfight not happening? Is it Nick for failing to show up? Is it Braulio for failing to make weight? Are they both to blame? While it's true we will never see a unanimous agreement among jiu-jitsu fans on this topic at least we can all agree that the 5 other superfights at the World Jiu-Jitsu Expo were as good as advertised!