"Nick wants that fight. He would love to take that fight," Gracie said in comments made to MMAWeekly.com. "Obviously, I would like to put another one of my guys against Georges St. Pierre, so we definitely want that fight."
The motivation of a fight with the consensus #1 welterweight in the world is more than enough to pull Diaz out of his doldrums. The 27-year-old complained about his schedule following his win over Paul Daley in April, and said he wasn't sure what his future was in the sport. Now, after St. Pierre defeated his teammate Jake Shields last weekend at UFC 129, Gracie believes Diaz needs the motivation of this fight to keep him going in the sport.
"It's no secret Nick was a little bit burnt out. He needs a bigger challenge," Gracie said. "No disrespect to the guys he's been fighting because each one of them has brought something to the table. Paul Daley hits really hard, good hands, very dangerous opponent. [Evangelista] Cyborg, great kicks, dangerous opponent. K.J. Noons really good boxing also, dangerous, and Nick beat them all at their strengths.
"It's definitely something Nick wants to motivate him even more. I think he kind of needs that, I really do."
Diaz is still wanting to box, but the UFC will try to get him out of that mindset, likely in the form of more monetary compensation than his current contract holds.
"The way we had the Strikeforce contract that we signed about a year ago, maybe a little less than that, was that here we're going to pay you this much money per fight," Gracie said. "It's not quite the kind of money you probably should be making, but you're going to be able to make it up because you're going to be able to do boxing, and that might be the more lucrative deal. There was pluses involved and one of the benefits or bonuses, whatever you want to call it, was being able to box."
"Now all of a sudden if that's taken away, we need to re-structure the contract maybe, that's the only thing. I'm thinking that Dana's going to be perceptive to this and Nick also working with that. It's just one of those things we all have to sit down and figure it out."
Those conversations will be taking place in short order, and UFC President Dana White said last weekend that though Diaz has it in his contract to allow him to box, he's hoping to convince him otherwise. And according to Gracie, it's now pretty much up to White and UFC owner Lorenzo Fertitta to determine what the next step will be.
"There's a lot of questions to be answered and really the only people that can answer the questions are Lorenzo and Dana," said Gracie.
"It'd be great, best case scenario for us would be Nick boxes and then he goes and fights GSP. But again, the person with the answer, the guys that have the answers to all of this and can make everything happen is Lorenzo Fertitta and Dana White."
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Penick's Analysis: I think we're moving towards this fight being a highly likely possibility, with all sides showing a lot of interest in it. I think if the UFC renegotiates Diaz's contract to offer him more money to take out the boxing clause, I think he'd accept. This is a huge fight for him, and one he's talked about a lot over the last couple of years. He's called St. Pierre out when the fight wasn't a realistic possibility, and now that it is he's still on board for the fight. If the UFC can figure out the logistics with the Showtime contract and make this happen, it will be a fantastic matchup at 170 lbs.
[Photo credit Esther Lin via Strikeforce.com]