Neiman Gracie carries family legacy into Bellator 222 title fight with Rory MacDonald

When it comes to his fourth-round submission win over Ed Ruth at Bellator 213, welterweight Neiman Gracie is not only happy with the win, but also pleased the fight went as long as it did. It put him in a strong position heading into this weekend’s title fight at Bellator 222.

Having previously only gone to a three-round decision once in his career, going into the fourth round of a fight was a good thing for Gracie’s experience.

“I think it was a great fight,” Gracie told “Ed Ruth is one of the best guys in the division. It was a great fight, a great test for me, and it was really good.

“I had a chance to finish the fight in the first minute of the first round. I’m kind of happy that it wasn’t over that early to see how I could do in the later rounds. Especially with it being my first five-round fight, definitely it was good how I would react in a longer fight.”

As part of Bellator’s Welterweight Grand Prix, Gracie now has a chance to claim his first MMA championship. It’s an opportunity that Gracie has been looking forward to for most of his life.

“It’s a dream come true,” said Gracie. “I’ve dreamed of this moment since I was eight years old. I believe I have the right to be here. I’m happy to see how far I can go.”

Gracie (10-0) faces titleholder Rory MacDonald (20-5-1) in the welterweight championship main event of Bellator 222 on Friday in New York City.

“I think it’s going to be a pretty tough fight,” Gracie said. “I’m fighting one of the best welterweights of all time. I’m expecting a war.

“I believe I can get the fight to the floor, and once we get on the floor I’m one step ahead of everyone in the division. I have to get the fight down to the floor and finish it there.”

For Gracie, claiming the Bellator title against MacDonald is not only good for his legacy and that of his family, but it’s the next step toward achieving victory in the Bellator Welterweight Grand Prix.

TRENDING > Henry Cejudo: ‘I’m the face of the UFC now’

“I believe that my family has already achieved what we were supposed to achieve: which is proving that Jiu-Jitsu is the best martial art in the world,” said Gracie. “I think for my family this is like the cherry on top, having a Gracie as a champion now, and proving that Jiu-Jitsu is still here and effective.

“I know after this fight with Rory my next fight will be against Douglas Lima in the finals of the tournament. I know that’s going to be a good, tough, fight with Lima. From now on, all my fights will be against very tough guys who want to challenge for the belt. I don’t expect anything easy from now on.”