The Gracie name will forever and always be remembered as one of, if not, the most important aspects to the growth of MMA. Neiman Gracie is one of the fourth-generation members of the family, and he takes pride in that.
With that pride comes expectations, though, and Gracie (6-0 MMA, 4-0 BMMA) admits he feels it. He’s done well to thrive in MMA so far, winning his first six fights. He will look to stay unbeaten on Friday when he takes on Zak Bucia (18-8 MMA, 0-0 UFC) at Bellator 185.
“Don’t put that pressure on me,” Gracie told MMAjunkie with a laugh when asked if he’s currently the most relevant family member in MMA. “I don’t know (if I’m the most relevant). There is some other good guys. Kron is training a lot and fighting (in Rizin FF). There’s not that many other Gracie’s in MMA. I’m happy I’m one of the top Gracie’s right now.”
Bellator 185 takes place at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. The welterweight bout between Gracie and Bucia co-headlines the Spike-televised main card following prelims streamed on MMAjunkie.
Although naturally known best for his jiu-jitsu prowess, Gracie is aware he can’t rely entirely on his grappling forever. He’s earned five of his six career victories by submission, but as the competition gets more difficult deeper into his career, he won’t always be able to get the fight where he wants it.
Gracie said he’s realistic about that fact, and it could possibly even happen in his next fight. Bucia has yet to be submitted in his 26-fight career, and while Gracie has expectations to be the first to get a tap, he’s aware he must have a backup plan.
“I’ve been training striking and the other martial arts for a while now,” Gracie said. “I think that with time I’m going to be able to show more of my ability. I think in these next fights I will be able to show a little bit of what I have in the other areas.
“I will always try to apply my Gracie jiu-jitsu,” he continued. “That’s what I always want to do. If I have no option and cannot do my game plan, I will try to fight on the feet or do whatever else I need.”
If Gracie is able to continue to handle his opponents on the mat, though, then his rise up Bellator’s 170-pound pecking order is going to be quick. However, at 28, and with just four years of fighting experience to his credit, he said he’s in no rush to leap into title contention immediately. He said he is ready for that type of competition, though.
“I’m happy with Bellator and happy with my career and the way it’s going,” Gracie said. “After this fight, depending on how I do, I think I will be ready for the bigger names for sure.
“There’s always room for improvement with everything, but I see myself at the top level for sure,” he continued. “I just need to get more cage time and improve my record. But I’m ready to fight the top guys.”view original article >>