Bellator 222 Q&A with Robson Gracie Jr.: 'I don’t stress about having to win by submission'
On Friday night, Robson Gracie Jr. will take on newcomer Oscar Vera on the prelims of Bellator 222.
For the 29-year-old Gracie (1-0 MMA, 1-0 BMMA), the younger brother of Renzo Gracie, it’ll be just his second professional MMA fight following a submission win over Brysen Bolohao at Bellator 212.
Last week, MMA Junkie caught up with Gracie to discuss his matchup with Vera, why he decided to become an MMA fighter, the pressure of representing the legendary Gracie Family, and more.
Bellator 222 takes place at Madison Square Garden in New York and streams on DAZN. You can check out our Q&A with Gracie below.
How’d you decide to become a professional MMA fighter?
I’ve always had this dream since I was a child. I grew up watching Renzo, Ryan, Ralph, Charles – all my brothers were fighters, not to mention my cousins and uncles. Fighting MMA was always something I really wanted to do. There were a few delays, so my debut was a bit later than I had planned. I had wanted to debut around age 23 or 24. It was later than that, but now I’m following my childhood dream of being a fighter. I enjoy jiu-jitsu very much, but MMA was my dream.
Does representing the Gracie family add extra pressure?
It’s a pleasure to represent my family. To say that there’s no pressure would be a lie. But I deal with pressure well. And I don’t stress about having to win by submission. I fight for myself. Royce Gracie told me that I should fight for myself, to represent our family, but not to just put on a show. In truth, representing my family is more of a pleasure than a weight on my shoulders.
Prior to your professional debut, you were scheduled to face Peter Nascimento and then Jamal Pottinger at Bellator in October of last year, but both matchups were canceled. What happened?
Unfortunately, my scheduled opponent, even though we agreed that he could come in heavy, didn’t pass his medical exams. It was the first time I did a drastic weight cut, so I had the positive lesson of knowing how my body responds to that. I did everything leading to that card, except for the fight itself.
How about winning your pro debut by submission?
I was very happy with my submission win. I don’t worry about how I get the win, but to get a rear-naked choked was extra special. A KO, decision win, or even an armbar wouldn’t have been so nice. A neck attack is most representative of jiu-jitsu. I was very happy to represent jiu-jitsu and the Gracie family.
What can you say about your next opponent, Oscar Vera?
I don’t know much about him. But that doesn’t make much of a difference. I’m not one to be watching fights. I prefer to impose my game. Of course, I try to find out if my opponent has an orthodox or southpaw stance. Ultimately, I expect to get a takedown and a submission. I’ll impose my rhythm and finish him on the ground, even if I have to catch an arm or deliver some ground-and-pound.
Plans for the future?
My plan is to keep fighting in Bellator, taking one step at a time. I wouldn’t be so pretentious as to talk about a title. It’s too early for that. Of course, I want to get there one day. I’d also like to open my own jiu-jitsu academy one day. I’d like to remain grounded, respectful of my opponents and represent my family well.
I’d like to send my love to my father Robson, my seven sisters in Brazil and to my daughter, Raica.