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Rickson Gracie unsure when Kron will fight again, reflects on son’s ‘emotional’ fight with Cub Swanson

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Kron Gracie
Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC

Kron Gracie suffered the first setback of his MMA career in October 2019 when he dropped a decision against Cub Swanson, and hasn’t fought since. His father — and cornerman that night — Rickson Gracie wasn’t pleased with the decisions Kron made mid-fight.

Speaking with MMA Fighting’s Portuguese-language podcast Trocação Franca, Rickson said he would advise Kron to change a few things in his strategy. His son, who competes in the UFC featherweight division, tapped Alex Caceres in his octagon debut eight months before losing to Swanson.

“You don’t have to be emotional when you fight, and I think Kron was emotional,” Gracie said. “He wanted to prove himself and to his friends that he could take a punch, that he’s not afraid of getting punched, that he wasn’t worried about using only one skill and delicate technique to win fast without getting hurt, keeping his face clean. He said, ‘I can prove that I’m a man, that I’m in this environment and I can brawl.’

“He proved to himself that he has heart, that he’s brave and has cardio, that he can take the pressure, but I already knew that in my head. I know he’s an animal, he’s a warrior. What he showed me was lack of ability to work strategically on someone else’s weakness. I never liked clashing heads — I always liked catching someone when they were distracted, to surprise them. I don’t like taking the toughest path, I like taking the door that’s open, the easier way to win. The quickest, the more efficient way, and causing less pain and trauma, the better. If I can beat the guy in 10 seconds in a way he doesn’t even feel pain, that to me is the best possible [outcome].”

“That being said,” he continued, “I see Kron trying to show himself as a man, as a warrior, and a bit away from the structure of what jiu-jitsu is meant to be, which is to make life easier. I believe he should train boxing the way he trains and be experienced enough to know he can [box], but use that boxing to get inside the range and immediately make the transition from boxing to jiu-jitsu instead of trying to beat the guy with boxing, to trade hands with the guy to show he’s capable of working in any area. He’s proven that, but it was a little short of the victory, and I think that’s not ideal.”

Rickson compare what MMA is now to what it was back in his time as a professional fighter in the 1980s, when he won 11 official vale tudo fights and allegedly hundreds of unofficial contests.

“It fills me up with pride because I see he’s following a tradition, a legacy, but the nature of the sport today is more physical than technical, more than one style only,” he said. “Everybody knows jiu-jitsu, everybody knows boxing, everybody cuts weight to fight, so it became more like a race, more physical and explosive and aggressive to the body. The training you do is very aggressive, the weight cut and diet are aggressive, and the fight has a lot of strength in a short period of time, so people aren’t afraid of getting tired because the bell rings before you get tired. It’s way more predictable, it gives the fighter a sense of control.

“Even thought the outcome of the fight isn’t that predictable because they both work on the same elements, they will both stumble on the mud and keep pushing until they run out of fuel. It’s very intense, really. It’s not the same way I fought [back in my time], my strategy. When I see Kron competing today, I don’t go there as a coach and say what he should do. I kind of follow and respect what he’s doing with his training partners, his methodology of training and fighting, which sometimes doesn’t please me.

“Seeing Kron trade punches with someone, I don’t feel comfortable with that exchange,” he continued. “I’d never do that. But seeing him do that, I see he’s confident, he’s trained, and he wants to test himself. Many times he [stops following] the perfect strategy to follow the ego and strength, training, competition, and that’s different from my views. I still don’t argue with him. I respect what he thinks and how he fights because the mindset and strategy are different today.”

Kron hasn’t fought in over two years now and his father isn’t able to provide an update as to when — or if — he’ll put the gloves back on again. The 33-year-old featherweight, who worked with the Diaz brothers in California prior to most of his MMA bouts, currently holds a 5-1 record in MMA, with all of his wins coming by way of submission.

“Right now we’re giving each other some space, you know?” Rickson said. “We had some small arguments and now he’s moved to Montana, he’s with his new gym there, he’s training. I don’t know exactly what his plans are for MMA, but I root for him. I know he has great potential, not only as a fighter, but also a great teacher, a great man. I’m rooting for him, and I’m also curious, like everybody else, to know what he’ll do next.”