Open Mat Academy in West Valley Mall welcomed two MMA legends, Cesar Gracie and Nick Diaz, to lead a 3-hour Jiu Jitsu self-defense seminar on Sunday.

The event was the grand opening for the local martial arts academy, with owner J.R. Cardona and his sons, co-owner Chris Cardona and academy manager Brandon Cardona, celebrating their new location.

The event comes in advance of Diaz’s upcoming fight, UFC 266, against Robbie Lawler on Sept. 25 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The five-round non-title fight is a rematch of Diaz’s second-round knockout win over Lawler in 2004, and Diaz’s first fight since 2015.

Diaz and Gracie shared their knowledge with about 120 martial arts students, and have shared their expertise with the Cardona family as they specialize in teaching Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Tae Kwon Do, Muay Thai, traditional boxing, kickboxing and wrestling to about 350 students at their academy.

Open Mat Academy recently moved from its former location at 2505 N. Tracy Blvd., where the business had been operating for the past 4 years, to 3200 Naglee Road, Suite 106, next to Macy’s, last month. The new location, at 4,700 square feet, is twice the size of the former studio and will allow Open Mat Academy to expand its offering of classes to all ages.

• Contact Bob Brownne at, or call 209-830-4227.

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