Gregor Gracie: Balancing Expectations

October 25, 2010

Gregor GracieGracie.

It is the name most synonymous with both Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and mixed martial arts.  When any fighter coming from the Gracie family steps into the world of MMA, there are always going to be eyes on them, expecting great things.

That’s the pressure Gregor Gracie has felt from the first time he stepped foot on a mat, but he says perspective is his greatest weapon, overcoming the pressure his last name comes with.

Making his way into the MMA world, Gregor Gracie has been tagged by many to be the next great prospect out of the legendary family.  Of course anyone following MMA has heard that before about a number of family members from the legendary Brazilian clan, and Gregor is quick to point out that while he has great pride in his name, he’s still got a lot to prove beyond just being a Gracie.

“To be honest I don’t really think about (it),” he told about the pressures that come along with being a Gracie.  “I’m still young and all I want to do is keep training and improving.  I don’t let that bother me. This is my life, I belong here.”

In his last trip out, Gracie submitted Mariusz Linke in the first round to pick up his third win in four tries.  With all of his wins coming by submission, the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt, who is also an instructor at Renzo Gracie’s Manhattan academy, showed the grappling roots are strong in the latest product from a great line of Gracie fighters.

The fight was the first time Gracie stepped into the world of MMA in more than two years.  The time off didn’t seem to affect his game. He was happy with his performance and the improvements he showed since the last time he competed.

“I’m very happy with my performance. I set him up with my striking to bring the fight where I wanted, the ground,” Gracie explained.   “From there, I worked my jiu-jitsu together with some punches to finally sink a rear naked choke. I felt pretty good, especially after a two-year layoff.”

The two years away happened for a combination of reasons, but what sat with Gracie the whole time was the loss he suffered in his last trip to the world of MMA.  In control of the fight against Doug Gordon back in 2008, Gracie made a cardinal mistake and it cost him.

“That was a loss tough to swallow,” he admitted.  “I was dominating the entire fight and in the third round he got me with that kick. I was younger and now I’m more focused and I know that inside that cage I cannot take my eyes off the prize, not even for a split second.”

The head kick knockout was a harsh lesson, but one that made Gracie a better fighter, and now he’s focused and ready to get back to action as soon as possible.

“I was already rolling on the mats Monday right after my fight. My manager, Ali (Abdel Aziz) from Dominance, is already on the works for me to step in the cage again. I want to fight as many times as I can.”

Like any fighter, Gracie has long-term goals, including being the latest member of his family to step foot in the world famous Octagon.  Gracie isn’t looking too far ahead though because he understands that you have to crawl before you can walk.

“UFC is the main stage of MMA, and that’s where I want to (go), but I’m not in a rush,” he said.  “I’m still young and I know when it’s time I’ll receive a phone call.”