Cesar Gracie: Benson Henderson Was Preferred Opponent for Nate Diaz



Nate Diaz watched the UFC 150 lightweight title fight Saturday between Benson Henderson and Frankie Edgar knowing that he would be fighting the winner.

According to trainer Cesar Gracie, Diaz didn’t want Henderson to prevail, but he did prefer to fight him for the championship.

“Ben Henderson was the ideal opponent,” Gracie told the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Beatdown” show. “He really was. Not because he’s easier. Just because Nate really doesn’t want to fight Frankie. Frankie’s been to my school a couple of times. He’s a great guy and he’s kind of a part of our extended family with the whole Ricardo Almeida [connection] and those guys out there on the East Coast. If my guys are going to train on the East Coast, that’s where they’re going to train -- Ricardo’s or Matt Serra’s, Renzo [Gracie’s], something like that. We love to have that kind of open-door policy.”

The connection with Edgar put the Cesar Gracie camp in an awkward spot while watching UFC 150, though.

“Before the fight I remember, we were just thinking, man, we want Frankie to win, but then we don’t want to fight him,” Gracie said. “It was kind of a weird deal right there. It got resolved.”

Henderson won via split decision. In Gracie’s view, the champion should have lost his belt to Edgar.

“It was a close fight,” Gracie said. “I remember at the end of the fight I thought to myself that Frankie probably took it. I did think Frankie won on the scorecards, but like I said, it was pretty close. It just looked like Frankie wanted it more. He was kind of pressing the action more. He was doing more.”

The fight was a rematch following Henderson’s unanimous decision over Edgar in February. In two fights, they have spent 50 minutes in the cage together. Edgar’s experience with Henderson could prove beneficial to Diaz should they work together before Diaz’s shot at the title.

“That’s a really good idea actually, but we haven’t got that far along in the process,” Gracie said. “We haven’t even got the date of the fight. It’s a little early to get that far into it, but once we get the date set and we put in a good plan going forward, something like that would definitely interest me.”

Listen to the full interview (beginning at 1:28:10).

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