Roger Gracie (4-0) stands as one of the most decorated grapplers to have graced the sport of mixed martial arts.
At Saturday’s Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix Semifinals event, he will look to continue his climb up the ranks in MMA as he takes on former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion and decorated wrestler Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal (7-1) in Cincinnatti.
Despite having only four professional fights, the Brazilian welcomes the step up in competition and believes that in order to move forward that you need to fight the best fighters out there.
“I accepted straight away, I know he’s a great fighter,” Gracie told MMAWeekly Radio.
“I know his skills are very good, but to be honest with you in order to move forward, you got to fight the best. In the beginning, you can think about gaining experience, and begin fighting the fighters with the same experience you have.
“To be honest, I feel ready to fight against anyone. I just told them I’m ready to fight, just give me whoever you want and they gave me him (King Mo). I think he’s a great challenge and the bigger the challenge, the bigger the reward. I’m really looking forward to it.”
Having four consecutive submission victories in his first four fights, many pundits feel that the former Abu Dhabi gold medalist has adapted his submission style to the mixed martial arts world very well. However, Gracie doesn’t feel like he had adapted anything and is the same grappler he’s always been.
“I think it’s just knowing how to position yourself in the right way. There’s no real secret in that. Nothing really changed in my game since I started doing more MMA, it’s just now that I have to grapple dealing with punches at the same time.”
Gracie has a tremendous respect for the explosive power and speed of King Mo, but he feels that King Mo isn’t very technical. For the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt to become victorious, he feels that he has to have a clever strategy to deal with the former Pan American gold medalist in freestyle wrestling.
“I think he’s a very, very tough fighter. He’s very dangerous and he’s very fast. He has unbelievable speed. He’s not the most technical fighter out there, but physically, he’s very strong, which makes him very dangerous. He’s got a lot more confidence on his stand-up, even though he got knocked out his last fight. You can see, every fight he does, and he gets a lot more confidence in. He’s very explosive when he takes you down, I think he positions himself well on top.
“I can’t say that it’ll be an easy fight for sure. I think he’s very fast, very explosive, so we’ll see what will happen. I’m pretty confident in my game, I think he’s very strong but I think I have to have a clever strategy against him and hopefully everything will be fine.”