Cesar Gracie: Demian Maia fight ‘a no-win situation’ for Nate Diaz, Conor McGregor trilogy still ideal plan

Cesar Gracie would like to see Nate Diaz face Conor McGregor next in the UFC. | Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Nate Diaz remains one of UFC’s biggest stars despite a clear decision loss to Leon Edwards at this past weekend’s UFC 263 in Glendale, Ariz. His team aims to book him in a fight that reflects that status.

Demian Maia, a fellow longtime veteran of the game, competed in the final bout of his contract with the UFC on that same night, coming up short against Belal Muhammad. Maia didn’t close the door on making a comeback to the cage for one “last dance,” and made it clear on social media by calling for a fight with Diaz.

Diaz’s longtime coach Cesar Gracie, however, doesn’t like the idea.

“I know there has been speculation on whether Nate will accept the fight with Demian Maia,” Gracie wrote in a message to MMA Fighting. “Although I have not yet talked to Nate about his thoughts on this fight, I can tell you that I am completely against the idea. Demian has been a great representative of Brazilian jiu-jitsu on the mat and in MMA. He has accomplished much and we all respect him. He is still a dangerous opponent but I don’t feel Nate has anything to gain from this fight.

“If he were to lose, he would be losing to a 44-year-old that is on his way out of the sport and if he won it would be to a 44-year-old man that is leaving the sport. It is a no-win situation.”

Gracie admits he was surprised by the callout because his team had approached Maia about potentially training with the Diaz brothers in the future.

“We have actually reached out to someone close to Demian to set up some training with him and Nick Diaz,” Gracie wrote. “Nick and I discussed this as we watched Demian’s last fight. We thought it would benefit them both. I was surprised when Demian came out with his statement to fight Nate but I am still open to him training with us.”

It’s still unclear whether or not Maia will actually re-enter the octagon for a final MMA fight and who will be Diaz’s next opponent, but Gracie has an unsurprising suggestion for his talent’s eventual return.

“I would think the trilogy versus [Conor] McGregor,” he said. “I know that Nate wants tough fights. He is motivated by fighting the best guys.”

Diaz and McGregor competed twice in the UFC, when the Stockton-native replaced Rafael dos Anjos on short notice and submitted “The Notorious” in the second round at UFC 196 in March 2016. They rematched five months later, with the Irishman emerging victorious via majority decision.

McGregor is slated to return on July 10, headlining UFC 264 in a trilogy bout with Dustin Poirier in Las Vegas. The winner could be next in line for UFC lightweight champion Charles Oliveira.

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