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A candid interview with Cesar Gracie
FWW: This is Rich Serpa from FightsWeWant.com and we are here today with Cesar Gracie. Cesar, we are glad you could join us.
CG: thank you, glad to be here
FWW: Cesar, there is not a lot of information out there as it relates to your childhood or formative years training in Brazilian jiu Jitsu (BJJ). Where did you grow up and could you talk to us a little bit about that?
CG: I grew up in Brazil and moved when I was 8 years old to the states and moved back to Brazil as a teenager……life was good growing up, all the family was into BJJ and you got into because it was expected of you. I really enjoyed learning the family art.
FWW: When did you start training in BJJ and who were some of your early instructors? What was that experience like?
CG: I started when I was 4 or 5 years old. It was all about having fun, learning something new. It didn’t get serious until I was a teenager. My first instructor was Herion Gracie. And one of my biggest influences was Rickson.
FWW: Many long term BJJ stylist hold such a devotion to the sport that they describe it as a “life changer” or a “lifestyle.” What is it about BJJ that you think would make someone describe it in those words?
CG: I have an interesting advantage point being Brazilian and American, I saw when I lived in the states as a child the Americans were not very comfortable with the physical contact, it was strange for them to train BJJ with another guy because of the physical aspect. You learn to look beyond that and train with people who feel just as passionate about the art as you do. Not only does BJJ help you make friends, but it gives young people something cool, positive and active to do, instead of doing illegal activity on the streets. Here they meet positive role models that will help direct them in the right direction. .
FWW: One of the more interesting aspects of ‘The Ultimate Fighter” reality television show has been getting a glimpse into the various coaching teams that the Head Coaches bring in to support them. We have seen representation from American Top Team and Greg Jackson’s crew just to name a few. The Cesar Gracie Fight Team is without question one of the most successful and talented MMA fight teams around. I would think there would be appeal from a rating standpoint to have one of your fighters be season head coach with your team there to support them. What are your thoughts on the show and would you consider being a part of it on a future season?
CG: The Ultimate Fighter show is to put known fighters as coaches and that fighter will bring in another coach. So if one of my guys is the coach on the show, it would be fun to do something like that. We would be excited to be a part of a season of the show. I know who the good coaches are and who they aren’t. But there are hype up coaches and I know who they are. That’s all the matters to me.
FWW: We recently interviewed John Danaher and asked him this question. We received a lot of emails from fans commenting on this topic and it generated a lot of dialogue. With that said, we wanted to ask you the same question. As you know, in the early days of MMA in this country, specifically as it relates to the “The Ultimate Fighting Championship” (UFC), the tournament featured martial artists from different disciplines facing each other in no-holds-barred combat to determine the best martial art. Since then, the sport has evolved and it is not uncommon to see that just about any of the top 5-10 fighters in any weight class in any league have a high level knowledge and ability in multiple martial arts disciplines. That said, in the majority of instances the fighters still began training and studying in one discipline. As an instructor and trainer, what are your thoughts on some of the fighters that are getting into the sport now trying to learn “MMA” as a discipline in and of itself without a base style per se’?
CG: Well MMA is - mixed martial arts. You will gravitate to one of the martial arts more than the other. It is rare to find someone who has great standup and ground game, but there are a select few that are lucky to have the talent of both. People come into the academy and want to take the mma class, but we say learn jiu jitsu, learn boxing, etc…..learn your stand up and takedowns. There is not just one MMA class.
FWW: The Gracie Fight Team has well known fighters such as Nick and Nate Diaz, Jake Shields and Gilbert Melendez, are there any students training their now in either MMA, BJJ or Muay Thai that you would consider an up and coming prospect or exceptional talent that we can look forward to seeing compete soon?
CG: We have many up and coming guys coming through the pipe that I am excited about, like Roy Boughten. Roy has natural talent and you will be seeing a lot of him soon.
FWW: Well it has been a crazy week to say the least. We had originally prepared a few questions at the end of this interview that pertained to the original bout that was set between Geroges St. Pierre and Nick Diaz. As a result of Nick missing some media obligations and subsequently being removed from the card, and then added back as a co main event, we needed to scrap those questions and regroup. With that said, and to the extent that you can, tell us where things stand now with you and Nick? Clearly he is like family to you and family members do not see eye to eye at times but has the recent events changed the dynamic between the two of you as it relates to being his trainer and manager?
CG: Nothing has changed between us. It was a tough time and I was upset but we are back on the training schedule for the upcoming fight.
FWW: How much if at all will the fight preparation change now that Nick is fighting BJ Penn? He obviously brings a different skill set to the table.
CG: BJ has better boxing fundamentals and a more technical ground game. He is not as strong as George is and probably not as in as good of shape.
FWW:These changes have certainly added some unwanted stress to a lot of people involved, particularly with those that have skin in the game if you will. It will also no doubt create maybe even more media attention to this fight. As Nick’s manager and trainer, tell us little bit about how you are doing? It must be challenging having to be managing the business side of things while at the same time overseeing the training, especially as you navigate through the recent issues?
CG: It was a tough time for me, we have worked hard for a long time to get this opportunity and it was hard to watch it slip through my fingers. I have learned that you have to take the bad and the good in life so I will put it behind me.
FWW: Lastly, the Fightswewant.com website is a site that’s set up for fans to pick bouts and their dream bouts they would like to see regardless of what league, camp or affiliation a fighter might be fighting for or what have you. If you had to pick a dream bout, and we cover all combat sports so whether it’s MMA or BJJ or Boxing or Judo etc., but if you had to pick a dream bout that you’d like to see most… and again, it doesn’t have to be someone from your camp or someone you train with, although it could be…but if you had to pick a bout that you would like to see, which would it be?
CG: GSP vs nick Diaz!
FWW: Cesar, I want to thank you again very much for your time.
CG: Thank you.
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