by Jeff Cain – MMAWeekly TV
Cesar Gracie will fight his first ever Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) bout tonight against an MMA legend, Frank Shamrock. Cesar’s mark on MMA has been primarily as an instructor of the Gracie brand of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and the trainer of a young crop of fighters making names for themselves in MMA competition. Familiar Cesar Gracie trained fighters include: David Terrell, Nick Diaz, Gil Castillo, Jake Shields and Gilbert Melendez. Cesar recently spoke with MMAWeekly Radio and MMAWeekly TV about his MMA debut against Shamrock, their feud, and his preparation and expectations for the fight.

Anyone fighting for the first time in MMA competition has to be nervous especially fighting a seasoned veteran with the accolades of Frank Shamrock in the first ever sanctioned MMA event in the state of California in front of the largest crowd in North American MMA history. But Cesar Gracie told MMAWeekly he isn’t at all nervous about stepping in the cage for the first time in a grudge match of this magnitude.

He said, “You’re fighting somebody. It doesn’t matter who it is. You’re in a fight, so I don’t really understand why it is more nervous to fight somebody than somebody else. If you get knocked out, you get knocked out. You know? I really don’t have the nerves. I really don’t, so we’ll see what happens.”

Has Cesar Gracie stepped in over his head? The fight looks to be a mismatch from the weigh-in photos to the disparity in experience levels. Cesar was asked what advantages he has going into a fight with Frank Shamrock. He answered, “I have better workout partners. That is probably my biggest advantage, my team. I don’t think he has as good of guys as I do in his camp. I don’t think of anybody over there. He has got a couple of tough fighters, but nobody on the level that I have, and Jiu-Jitsu skill of course. If and when it does go to the ground, I think I’ll do pretty well with my Jiu-Jitsu against his Jiu-Jitsu. You know? Those would be the advantages.”

Cesar Gracie does have an excellent camp. Used to playing the role of trainer, Gracie became the student. Commenting on who helped him prepare, Cesar said, “Jake Shields is one of the guys that got me ready, Nick Diaz, Gilbert Melendez. Guys like that. Obviously the whole team gets you ready for a fight like that, just training with the guys kind of taking in their experience from their fights and everything. Those are the guys that got me ready for my fight.”

The Gracie and Shamrock feud is the longest and most publicized rivalry in MMA history. It dates back to the beginning and it is alive and well today. We know how it started with Ken Shamrock and Royce Gracie, but how did the Cesar and Frank feud begin? Cesar told his side of the story.

“There were some things said a few years ago. He made some interviews about our system, the family, the Gracies are dead. I’m sure people have heard that and so forth. I’ve met a lot of people in the fight game and whether they’re rivals or not, I thought they were nice people that happened to be at another camp. Every time I would meet Frank, he came off as being extremely cocky and someone I didn’t really appreciate. I don’t know if that was a wrong impression of mine or not, but that is the impression I would get every time. It just kind of escalated from there into a little bit of a war of words, and of course our camps being so close together. He was with AKA back in the day. He is not with AKA anymore. Bob Cook is the main guy there. It just kind of escalated a little bit . . . This is a fight that needed to happen, and I’m happy it is going to happen. I know he is too. That is pretty much it. We are fighting.”

Cesar issued the challenge to Shamrock. He must have played the fight out in his mind countless times. Questioned how he sees the fight going, Cesar commented, “There is going to be standup to it. If it gets too hard to take him down or something, we’re going to have to slug it out. I’m not afraid to slug it out. Those are thin gloves. If you hit somebody, they’re going to get hurt. If they hit you, same thing. You’ve got a striker’s chance if he wants to stand up. I’m obviously not going to be as good with the kicks and so forth as Frank is going to be. I’m just going to see how this fight plays out myself. I’m curious to see how it is going to play out. It is almost going to be like watching a movie, like Okay lets see what is going to happen. If I get the opportunity to take him down and I do then I’m going to go on top and strike, work him a little bit and set up a submission. Other than that, I really don’t know.”

You can hear Cesar’s MMAWeekly Radio interview by clicking on the radio archive. Be sure to check out Cesar’s video interview at MMAWeekly TV. For only five dollars a month, you gain access to MMAWeekly’s Radio Archive and our extensive video library of one-on-one interviews, behind the scenes coverage, and tips of the week from the top fighters in MMA. See the sport from the inside with the MMAWeekly Premium Package.