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Having the Gracie name has it’s weight. With Robson Gracie Jr. making his fourth trip to the cage in Bellator 254 this weekend, Gracie has that weight on his shoulders. He takes on Billy Goff opening up the card and with all the momentum in his favor, hopes to notch another win.
While the Gracie name is synonymous with Jiu Jitsu, it’s always been Robson Gracie Jr.’s plan to go into mixed martial arts. His MMA career started a bit late, but Gracie hopes to simply represent his surname with honor.
“It was kind of natural. Since I was a kid I was expecting to do MMA. It was a dream. I have been training a lot. Even since I trained in Rio. It was kind of natural. It was a little bit late for me to start my career, I hope it goes good. It is something I was waiting for my whole life: carrying the Gracie name in the cage and the ring is a dream come true.”
Gracie is alway for a challenger as well. He is only 3-0 but he knows the challenges that lie ahead, especially should he continue to win. Gracie says fighting only gets harder from here. He’s known for Jiu Jitsu, of course, but Robson Gracie Jr. knows that it’s called mixed martial arts for a reason. He knows his opponents each present a new challenge and a different set of skills.
“I know every time I have a fight, my opponent is going to get tougher and tougher. He’s also has wrestling. It’s not going to be easy to take him down so I’m going to need to do a little bit more work with my hands. I knew about this so Jiu Jitsu is, for me, a great background. Not just as a martial art, but I work on Jiu Jitsu for anyone. It’s a great thing. That’s the beauty of the art of Jiu Jitsu. But, I have been training a lot of Muay Thai and boxing. I really like boxing more than Muay Thai. I have been working a lot with my coaches. My hands, I knew sooner or later it was going to be hard to take my opponent down so I need to stay standing a little bit longer to set up the game plan to takedown. I had the luck to fight against strikers. I’m not going to say it was easy to take them down, but now I know it’s going to get harder. If you’re going to fight MMA, you need to be complete. Like the name says, you need to have a little bit of everything. Jiu Jitsu is the greatest martial art, but if you just go to fight with it, you’re not going to last long.”
There are so many Gracie athletes and they range from Bellator to the UFC and more. When asked if he trained with Khonry Gracie, a fellow Bellator fighter, Gracie said he planned to but due to the pandemic he wasn’t able for this fight.
“Not really. They live in California. I was planning to spend a vacation with Khonry and Royce [Gracie], but because of the pandemic we didn’t have time. When things get a bit better, I’m going to do that.”
Robson Gracie Jr. and Carrying the Family Name
As said earlier, Robson Gracie Jr. is carrying the Gracie name into the cage at Bellator 254. I asked if there was any pressure donning the last name “Gracie.” While he said there is a pressure on his shoulders, Gracie uses that as motivation to be better.
“Yes, I am not going to lie to you and say no. I try to not see the pressure, but there is a pressure, for sure there’s a pressure. Wherever I go with people in Jiu Jitsu and the pressure. They think that whenever we fight I’m going to go to the ground and he’s going to submit me. They’re going to make it a point not to give me their neck or arm. I have to work hard for the submission. I try to use that pressure as a motivation to train a little bit harder. Because sooner or later they’re going to find a guy who is good also at Jiu Jitsu that doesn’t have the Gracie name. I’m going to have to respect my opponent because he also knows Jiu Jitsu and he also can set up a submission. It’s best that I try to avoid the pressure, keep my mind clear and respect and work hard. Not just in Jiu Jitsu but also all the martial arts.”
Gracie Advice to a White Belt
You have to ask Jiu Jitsu advice when a Gracie is in front of you. I asked Robson Gracie Jr. what was his number one piece of advice to a white belt on day one, and he set aside the technical aspects of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Gracie says it’s more in the mindset when learning the sport.
“First thing is leave your ego outside. Three days ago, I was training with a white belt. What happened I got a couple submissions on him. He cursed, not to me, but he cursed himself. I said, ‘Man, don’t curse. Not because you’re mad, don’t get angry. You’re learning. Leave your ego outside and get your mind open to learn.’ That’s the most important thing. Everybody wants to be tough. But, you have a hundred guys that are tough. You go to a gym and there are tough guys everywhere. But, if the guy is not open to learn, he’s going to be tough, but he’s not going to go far because he does not have the the technique. Sometimes, I train with a guy and I beat him one hundred times, what’s the point? It doesn’t have a point. So sometimes I’ll let the guy pass my guard and I’ll try to work from the bottom. I try to work my defense. Now, I’m going to try a new attack. Get your mind open to learn. Same thing, I was training with a blue belt and I was passing his guard. When I passed his guard over and over again, I decided to put my hand and changed the hand, boom he caught me with a triangle and I tapped right away. I was trying something new. I don’t care if I tap or not. I’m there to learn. What’s the point of pass a guy’s guard one hundred times? I’m not going to learn nothing. He’s not going to learn nothing. So I tried something. I knew how to walk to his left so let me walk to the right. Leave the ego outside, work on your defense and on the weak side. Keep your mind open to learn. That’s the most important thing!”
Robson Gracie Jr. returns Thursday on Bellator 254. Follow him on Instagram to follow his journey through MMA and beyond.