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Royce Gracie on his new Bellator gig: ‘I don’t think they made this offer to somehow attack the UFC’

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Royce Gracie was the latest member of the UFC Hall of Fame to join Bellator, and he’s excited to help the promotion.

Signed to be the new official brand ambassador for Bellator, the MMA legend will interact with fans during MMA shows, making promotional appearances and "be involved in a co-branded merchandise line that will debut in 2015," Bellator announced on Oct. 8.

Gracie will make his debut as an ambassador at the Bellator Fan Fest on Oct. 21 in San Diego, Calif., and he’s looking forward to helping the promotion in its expansion.

"I’m a good friend of Scott Coker for five or seven years, he’s involved with martial arts for a long time, so he called me and made this offer," Gracie told "I’m here to help."

Winner of three UFC tournaments between 1993 and 1994, Royce Gracie is the fifth member of the UFC Hall of Fame to join Bellator, after Tito Ortiz, Stephan Bonnar, Ken Shamrock and Randy Couture left the UFC for the rival promotion.

"I don’t think they made this offer to somehow attack the UFC," Gracie said. "They see my value, and invited me to be their ambassador.

"The UFC was my home and will always be my home," he added. "I helped creating and building that home. Now, Bellator is a relatively new organization, and I’m here to help them grow even more."

Gracie, who built a 14-2-3 MMA record in 24 years of professional fighting, believes that the competition between Bellator and UFC is great for the sport.

"It’s always good to have more promotions, give more fighters work," he said. "You have tons of talents everywhere you go, so you can’t be stuck to only one promotion. I’m here to help Bellator grow."

Bellator has 143 fighters on its roster, according to their official website, and Gracie’s favorites are Georgi Karakhanyan and Marcin Held.

Karakhanyan (23-4-1), a former WSOF featherweight champion, has recently re-signed with the promotion after going 9-1 since leaving Bellator in 2011. Held (20-3), winner of the last Bellator lightweight tournament, is expected to fight for the 155-pound title after racking up five straight victories.

"One fighter that I like, that is coming back to Bellator now, is Georgi. He will win the title," Gracie said. "And I also like Marcin Held. He has a slick ground game, submits everyone with his leglocks. His jiu-jitsu is really good."

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