clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Unlike some family members, Neiman Gracie is in Bellator to win belts, not promote Brazilian jiu-jitsu

New, comments
Neiman Gracie won five of six fights via submission.
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

A short-notice opponent switch won’t change Neiman Gracie’s plans.

Unbeaten in six MMA fights, the 28-year-old grappler meets Zak Bucia at Friday’s Bellator 185 in Uncasville, Conn., and he’s happy to be back in action months after his second-round submission win at Madison Square Garden in June.

“I want to be more active, fight at least three or four times a year,” Gracie told MMA Fighting. “I’m really happy that they give me this fight now, and I hope I can fight one more before the end of the year.”

The unbeaten welterweight has finished five of his six opponents using his jiu-jitsu, and that’s exactly what people expect from someone coming from someone whose last name is Gracie. Don’t expect to hear that his goal in MMA is to spread jiu-jitsu, though.

“I think that job is already done,” Gracie said. “Everyone knows who we are and what jiu-jitsu is, so I’m here to fight for the belt, to win fights. My family has proven everything we had to prove, so I’m going after the belt. I want to be the best in the world.

“My goal is the belt, and I hope this win puts me one step closer to it. I hope I can fight bigger names after this fight to continue testing myself."

While veterans of the family like Rickson Gracie insist that his son Kron Gracie trains only jiu-jitsu to prove it’s enough to win modern MMA bouts, Neiman Gracie looks up at his mentor Renzo Gracie for a different mindset.

“I think that since I came from the Renzo lineage, who is in my opinion one of the most open-minded guys in the division, I didn’t have this pressure,” Neiman said. “It’s quite the opposite. He always told me to train everything. Of course jiu-jitsu is my background, I won’t train less jiu-jitsu because I already know it. I train everything."

Being around Renzo Gracie gives him other benefits, too.

“It's great because he’s friends with everybody, so I have the opportunity to train with several people,” he said. “Renzo doesn’t have problems with anyone, so doors are always open for me everywhere I go. God put me in the right place, for sure."

Back in action at Bellator 185, Neiman Gracie hopes to score another submission win, but wouldn’t mind knocking Bucia out — especially after tasting what if feels like to drop someone in sparring.

“I had that experience and it was a bit scary because it wasn’t a strong punch, but landed on the right spot and he was rocked,” he said with a laugh. “I was like ‘Hh, this is cool too’. It’s not as complicated as taking someone down, passing the guard and mounting, so it’s cool, too. If I have the opportunity, I’ll land some."