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Rickson Gracie on Kron Gracie’s MMA debut: ‘We don’t want to throw him into the fire’

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Kron Gracie, one of the best jiu-jitsu fighters on the planet, will finally make his transition to MMA.

Kron Gracie, a multiple-time jiu-jitsu champion and ADCC 2013 gold medalist, is set to make his MMA debut at Real Fighting Championship in Japan on Dec. 23, his father Rickson Gracie told MMAFighting.com.

"They haven’t found an opponent yet, but it’s set. Travel, hotel, everything set for him to fight on Dec. 23," Rickson Gracie said. "He will fight at 155 pounds."

According to a report from MMA in Asia, Real Fighting Championship will take place at the Ariake Coliseum in Tokyo.

Kron Gracie, who holds submission victories over Shinya Aoki, Leandro Lo, Claudio Calasans and JT Torres in grappling competitions, is training with the likes of Gilbert Melendez, Nick Diaz and Nate Diaz for his MMA debut.

"Kron is super dedicated, training hard," Rickson Gracie said. "His camp is going great. It’s a good moment for his career, he wants to prove himself. I’m really proud.

"He’s doing part of his camp there (at Cesar Gracie’s gym), and part at his gym in Los Angeles. The best thing is that Gilbert and the Diaz brothers will fight at the end of the year (and in January), so they are all in the same training rhythm."

Rickson Gracie, who retired undefeated in 2000, wants his son to have a different start in MMA compared to his first vale tudo bouts in the 1980’s.

"I try to be an advisor, give him support," he said. "He will have to deal with his first MMA bout, fighting in a different country. It’s stressful. We don’t want to see him now against a guy with 30 professional fights. The idea is having him fight a guy with background in a martial art and with some MMA fights.

"We don’t want to throw him into the fire like the family used to do in the past. ‘Oh, it doesn’t matter is he’s 45 pounds heavier than me, I’ll fight him.’ In the vale tudo days, we could understand that. There was no time limit, it was a whole different strategy. But in a MMA fight with weight classes and five-minute rounds, where you can explode without gassing, you have to work differently.

"I try to protect Kron in a way that he won’t face the worst challenge in his first MMA fight, and then he will be ready to fight the best."

Kron Gracie used to compete at 180 pounds in jiu-jitsu and grappling tournaments, and will cut down to 155 for his first MMA bout. His father sees a bright future for his protégé in this new challenge.

"I can see him doing more than that," Rickson Gracie said of his son winning a UFC title one day. "He’s focused, he wants to bring jiu-jitsu back to MMA. He’s not doing crosstraining to work on his weaknesses. He won’t start boxing, kickboxing, wrestling. He will use his jiu-jitsu to neutralize the wrestler, the striker, and work on his expertise.

"I don’t want him to learn how to knock someone out with a punch. He would need another life just to learn how to deal with fighters who come from this background. He has to learn how to avoid fighting his opponent’s game."