Roger Gracie is a ten-time BJJ world champion but the Brazilian says his most recent martial arts achievement is the crowning moment of his career. Earlier this month he claimed the inaugural ONE Championship light heavyweight title with a submission win over Michal Pasternak in Singapore.
Winning gold at the Mundials ten times is no easy feat, but we have come to expect these types of accomplishments from the Gracie family in BJJ competition. That’s why this MMA triumph means so much more to the 34-year-old.
“It was one of the happiest days of my life. Becoming the ONE light heavyweight world champion means more to me than all of my BJJ world titles. I carried a lot of pressure into this fight because I carried the Gracie name and my family on my shoulders on the global stage of MMA in the second largest MMA organization in the world.”
Gracie has only fought six times in the last five years as he moved from Strikeforce to the UFC to ONE Championship. These changes of promotion probably contributed to his lack of activity but the Brazilian says he plans to be much more busy from this point forwards.
“For sure, I hope to stay busy as a world champion. I also would like to fight for the middleweight title and try to become a two division world champion.”
Gracie’s title win was at the Singapore Indoor Stadium and he did the final stages of his fight camp at Evolve MMA. The Brazilian subsequently decided to join the team there on a full-time basis and will be spending a lot more time in Singapore.
“I plan to spend a big part of the year at Evolve in Singapore to upgrade my striking and my MMA game. I plan to come a few times in a year and stay for a few months each time. I also want to do my full fight camps in Singapore.”
Gracie showcased some surprisingly good striking to beat James McSweeney on his ONE Championship debut, but the 34-year-old is far better known for his world-class grappling ability than his stand-up skills and says he is looking forward to exchanging some tips with his new team in Singapore.
“Evolve fight team is one of the best teams in the world. I want to learn Muay Thai under the world’s best and I believe that I can share my knowledge in jiu-jitsu to the rest of my teammates. I love the family spirit at Evolve. It is a real family and everybody helps everybody with real love.”
Gracie could easily get his walking weight down to 205 pounds, which would allow him to compete in ONE Championship’s middleweight division. That title is currently held by Vitaly Bigdash, who was recently injured in training but is in to face fellow Russian Alexsei Butorin as soon as he recovers.
No fighter has ever won ONE Championship belts in two different divisions, but Gracie looks on track to potentially become the first. Whether he’s defending his current title or challenging for the middleweight strap 2016 is set to be a busy year for the Brazilian.
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