“I was reminded by something that happened many, many years ago. I think BJ was probably about 17 at the time, we were at a tournament and I was giving one of my guy’s instructions. At the time there was an alliance, it was my school and Ralphs school and we where one team and BJ was on that team.
I was giving one of my guys instructions and I looked over to my left a little bit and I saw BJ’s eyes focused on every word I was saying and he kind of smiled and said, ‘You always have the best advice, that’s why I always listen to you.’
And it just reminded me, years and years have passed since then, but BJ, take my advice now, it’s time to make something new happen. “
These are the sentiments of famed coach and leader of the Gracie Fight Team, Cesar Gracie, as he tells it exclusively to BJPENN.COM this afternoon.
We are just five days removed from UFC 137, and as I sat here in my chair, writing a story about Reagan’s upcoming fight this weekend I was surprised by my phone’s caller ID flashing “Cesar Gracie” on it.
I obviously picked up the call, for one, curiosity and two; I enjoy the company of Cesar and Nate and have always considered Nick one of my personal favorite fighters. What happened last weekend was business and while, yes, I admit, it did hurt to see BJ go down, as the boss man JD tells it, ‘You can let defeat keep you down, you gotta raise up snappin.’
Much to my surprise I was met with a voice of concern on the other line. Cesar was concerned for BJ and the future of his career. So much so that he instantly asked me how BJ is doing and instantly wanted me to play middle man between the camps to try and get BJ back on track and back home where he started his career.
From my personal standpoint, I agree that BJ needs a change. One of the very best and most talented martial artists to ever walk the earth, yet he has only notched official victories in one of his last five fights.
But where do we go from here? Our fearless leader who has taken on all comers across the globe his entire career suddenly retired in the cage last Saturday, and left the world hungry for more of his furious fighting style in the process. I talked to BJ after the fight and he has definitely acknowledged the fact that indeed, maybe something needs to change if he wants to compete at the highest level still.
But is it diet, a new camp, new sparring partners and coaches or a new weight class? That is all dependant on what BJ decides to do and we all support him regardless, however there is one man who has a plan set out for the “Prodigy” and it is our most recent opposition in the cage, Cesar Gracie.
Through me and the discussion that I eventually decided to document for the website, Cesar talks about BJ’s heart and desire to win, the changes he thinks he needs to make in order to resurge as the champion he is as well as makes a formal offer to merge both of our teams in an alliance that will surely be unrivaled across the globe.
I share this conversation for the first time with the world, with BJ and the rest of our team in hopes that if this is the change that is needed for BJ to make a dominant return that it is met with open ears and open hearts.
I’ll let Cesar explain his plan from here on out. (Check the full audio at the bottom of the entry)
“Me looking at the fight that just occurred, a chord struck. Looking at BJ coming out, he had the Hawaiian music, I could see the emotion on the guys face and I could see how much he cared. It kind of moved me to a certain extent, seeing all those Hawaiians that flew over, me meeting with BJ’s mom beforehand and having a conversation with her and seeing just what kind of a person that she is and what kind of people these are.
There was something very honest and genuine there that struck a chord with me and I got to thinking to myself. I’m watching this guys fight and I’m very impressed with his abilities, number one. Not a lot of guys can stand up like that with a Nick Diaz and not a lot of guys can win a round like that in the first round, the judges gave it to him, it was a great round and Nick lost that round on the judge’s scorecard.
But also, being in the game for this long I’ve seen the problems. I see the heart that BJ has but I see, well, wait a minute, how come a guy with this much heart with this much technique and natural god given ability, why isn’t it happening for him now. He’s only 32 years old, which in his mind that’s old, but it isn’t and it boggles the mind looking at that.
So I’m looking at all that and going, what’s wrong?
What’s wrong here is the stuff around him. I don’t know his coaches or anything like that but for whatever reason it’s not happening. This guy is coming into a fight and it’s not that he is totally out of shape, but he is not in world class shape and that’s what it takes these days to make it to the upper levels of fighting.
I’ve had a relationship with BJ since he was 16 years old, so I obviously always like the kid, always knew of his talent. There were things coming up, like when he fought my cousin, obviously he went one path and I wish he hadn’t gone that path, it would have been better if he was with us instead of against us through some of that. But let’s turn the page; let’s look at it for what it is. He’s a genuine person; he’s a guy that fights with his heart. He’s not a steroid user like a lot of these guys he’s not a cheater and you know there’s respect for a guy like that.
I think the joining of our camps, of our teams together, a sort of coalition would benefit him incredibly and it would benefit us too. Guys like BJ Penn, Reagan Penn, Nick and Nathan, you know, Gilbert Melendez all the guys on our team would benefit from having those guys around.
I also look at what’s the psychology of what’s happening. Why is BJ not able to go somewhere and stay there and have to go back to Hawaii? Well, the similarities between Nick and BJ are striking, and when I mean striking it’s almost like they’re the same person. They’ve got the same traits. These guys don’t like to be far away from home.
If I take Nick and I move him to some great place in New York and he’s training somewhere out there, the guys is gonna hop on a plane after a few days or a week at most and he’s going to come home because he wants to be where his surroundings. And BJ is the same way, he wants to go back and be with his kids, he wants to be with his family and you have to accommodate for people.
I think a lot of people say, ‘Come out here, you’re gonna do this tough camp.’ and pretty soon the guy is going to get depressed. He’s not gonna train to his fullest because what is happening psychologically.
You’ve got to make it so the guy can come over and leave anytime he wants. My guys will go over there, Nick and Nate absolutely love Hawaii so they would train there with him and obviously BJ used to live in Northern California when he started over here with us so it just makes sense and it’s what he needs. He’s got too much talent to quit right now and he needs to get with some world class athletes and this is the perfect opportunity, the time is ticking and it’s time to do it.”
“It’s just a good fit, everyone is talking about BJ’s cardio, Nick, Nathan and Gilbert, these guys are the kings of cardio, and they do not get tired. BJ has to change some things up, he’s gotta change his diet up a little bit too. With Nick and Nate they eat so clean it’s ridiculous, they don’t get sick ever and they don’t get tired.
So it wouldn’t be me telling him, ‘Hey BJ you have to do this.’ and it’s not a nutritionist telling him something, it’s actually guys he’s training with saying ‘Hey man, why don’t you try this?’, that’s the only thing that’s going to change someone’s mind. Things have needed to change with this guy for awhile now and my interest in it is that it’s just too much talent to let go.
Not only for BJ, but he has a younger brother coming up the ranks and Reagan’s not going to make it without the help of professionals too and he’s gonna follow the lead of his brother and this is the best time for BJ to say, ‘You know what? I lost my fight, but I’m a man, I’m a warrior and I’m gonna lead the way and I’m going to show everybody what it is to be a warrior.’
A good man gets knocked down 6 times, he’s gonna get up 7 and that’s the thing about our team. Everyone’s wanted to bury it from the get go, ‘Oh these guys, they don’t talk a certain way, they’re not doing this, they’ll never make it, Nicks not gonna be good, Jake will never make it’. (When speaking of their critics.)
Jake Shields joined my team after coming off a terrible loss to one of my guys and instead of Jake Shields quitting he said, ‘Ya know what? I better go train with these guys, cuz they’re doing something different, they do this Jiu Jitsu, it’s the best what they have up there.’ And he joined the team and he hasn’t looked back. He went up and up and up and has become a world class fighter. From being a C-Level fighter to becoming a top A level pound-for-pound fighter, it’s because he made the changes he had to back then.
BJ has been running off talent and talent alone and that’s not good enough to make it these days.”
I asked Cesar his honest opinion on BJ’s career, I wanted to know if in his opinion are BJ’s best days behind him and he said…
“BJ’ best days are in front of him. This is a wonderful opportunity to turn the page and look towards the future. He can rewrite his whole future right now, he can do it. The best days are in front of him he just doesn’t know it yet. We are going to get rid of that negative attitude, he’s a young man, everything is pointing to go up and return.
This guy can make it, he needs pros as good as him to train with, to sit there with, to hang out with and be friends with and reinvigorate his career. That’s my idea on it.”
Just so our readers, our team and myself are clear, this is a formal invitation from your team to ours to merge our camps and become an alliance is that right, I asked?
“Absolutely, said Cesar. This is a formal invitation. I talked to Nathan Diaz just a few minutes ago because he is one of the guys I haven’t discussed this with yet and he said ‘absolutely!’ Nick Diaz told BJ not to quit after the fight because BJ was talking about quitting and that really upset Nick because this guy just gave him a war and he’s thinking the same thing I am thinking, No way don’t quit.
Circumstances put us to fight each other but let’s put that aside now and lets fight a common enemy from this point out. Let’s fight these other guys, these guys that are the lay n pray guys, these guys that are ruining MMA.
For the cause of saving MMA in the world these guys need to get together because people are inspired by that kind of fighting and if we keep having these other guys that just want to hold you and not fight it’s going to destroy the sport that we love that we have been involved with our whole lives.
For the cause of saving MMA these type of people need to unite.”
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