clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Robson Gracie Jr. swears he’s a ‘calm guy’—just don’t disrespect him

Robson Gracie Jr. (pictured) fights Oscar Vera in a welterweight bout at Bellator 222 at Madison Square Garden on Friday
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

The last time Robson Gracie Jr. was in a street fight was just a couple of months ago.

No, it wasn’t the kind of unsanctioned altercation that has become such an indelible part of the Gracie family legacy, and even calling it a “street fight” is an exaggeration. It was more of a kerfuffle that just happened to take place on a street and the story itself is less than epic. Still, Gracie can’t help but bring it up when asked if he shares the same disposition as some of the more fiery branches of his family tree, though he insists that he’s not the type to seek out confrontation.

“I think my father taught us to be ready,” Gracie recently told MMA Fighting. “When I was young, I have a bunch of fights in the street. In Brazil, the cities are rough. It’s really fun, we fight in the streets, and then become friends with the guys we fought right after. That’s the key. But I’m really calm now. I’m a really calm guy, but don’t try to—one thing I don’t like is disrespect. If someone tries to disrespect me, they’re going to know right away.

“Besides that, I’m really calm, I don’t chase trouble, I try to avoid trouble as much as possible. But the moment I see disrespect, something’s gonna happen.”

Gracie, the son of the legendary Robson Gracie Sr., found himself in a minor altercation in his native Brazil when a man dinged Gracie’s car with his motorcycle. The jiu-jitsu black belt wasn’t planning to get physical, but as he went to talk, the man jumped into his car and Gracie had to forcefully yank him out.

“Nothing bad,” Gracie said, assuredly.

Robson Sr. might have taken a few liberties back in the day to get his point across, but Jr. considers himself more level-headed. That’s probably a good thing for Bellator officials, who are much happier to have Gracie fighting in their cage as opposed to getting in trouble outside of it. Gracie competes Friday at Bellator 222 against Oscar Vera on the undercard of an event at Madison Square Garden headlined by his cousin Neiman challenging Rory MacDonald for the welterweight title.

A New York resident now, Gracie is excited to be backing up Neiman at “The World’s Most Famous Arena” and he has the full support of his family as he looks to go 2-0 as a pro fighter. That includes his father, who was proud of Gracie winning his debut at Bellator 212 in December.

Robson Gracie finishes Brysen Bolohao with a choke at Bellator 212 on Dec. 14, 2018
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

“He was happy. He’s a man with not a lot of words, but he was really happy,” Gracie said of Robson Sr.’s reaction to his MMA debut. “I was with him, I showed him the video, he didn’t watch live but we watched together right after and he was really happy.

“He said, ‘Son, that’s good. You showed that in training, you’re keeping the legacy alive, this fighting. And I’m happy for you.’”

Even his brother Renzo, one of the more famous Gracies to compete in MMA, couldn’t find much to critique in Gracie’s debut. The 27-year-old executed their plan perfectly, getting opponent Brysen Bolohao down in the second round and working to secure a rear-naked choke submission.

He even showed off some of his striking, though he clarified with a laugh that it wasn’t part of the plan. For his next fight, Gracie visualizes doing more of the same.

“I think I’ll try to take him down, then relax, try the takedown, and hit the ground and find the submission if possible,” Gracie said. “But he’s a striker and I’ll try to avoid the punches and bring him into my game.”

“Even in jiu-jitsu, I don’t like to watch a lot of what my opponents do. Of course, I want to get a couple of ideas of what the base is that the guy has. Is the guy a striker? Is the guy a southpaw? Is the guy orthodox, I want to first get that idea. A little bit, but I try to more improve my game because I’m not thinking about what the guy’s gonna do, I’m thinking about what I’m gonna do, that’s what my game plan is.”

Gracie’s game plan for his MMA career is less clear. It’s far too soon to think about contending for a title and he remains dedicated to teaching when he’s not preparing for a fight. Gracie makes a living offering private jiu-jitsu lessons, but he does a few classes pro bono for people that can’t afford them.

Becoming a successful MMA fighter is important to Gracie, though that goal will always be tied to the ongoing mission of sharing his family’s art.

“It’s not about the martial arts, it’s about the way of life,” Gracie said. “And for me this is great, I want to keep teaching, but of course now I’m focused more on my career. For sure, I’m going to keep looking for students to teach the Gracie jiu-jitsu.”

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the MMA Fighting Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your fighting news from MMA Fighting