Instead, he had to settle with Goiti Yamauchi.
As he focuses on getting past the jiu-jitsu ace on Friday at Bellator 284, Gracie has his sights set on avenging another recent defeat.
“Jason Jackson is out there, and I’ve been crazy to do this rematch with him for a while now,” Gracie said on MMA Fighting’s Trocação Franca. “I think I won last time, and I’ve been asking Bellator for this rematch, and I think we can run it back if he doesn’t decide to wait [for a title shot].
“I’m hoping to fight him after this one, to rematch him and see who really wins this fight. But I want it to be five rounds.”
Gracie has lost three of his past five after a stellar 9-0 start in his career. He doesn’t necessarily agree with a split decision setback against Jason Jackson at Bellator 255. He offered to sit and wait for the winner of the Jackson vs. Douglas Lima at Bellator 283, but Bellator had other plans.
Now, following Jackson’s dominant five-round decision over Lima, Gracie feels a rematch with Jackson is the logical next step after Bellator 284, which takes place at Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, S.D.
Welterweight champion Yaroslav Amosov is expected to unify his title against Storley in the near future, so Jackson may have some time free. First, though, Gracie must get past Yamauchi.
Gracie called his fellow Brazilian a dangerous matchup despite a lack of positioning in Bellator’s promotional rankings. Similar to Gracie, Yamauchi has submitted the majority of the opponents he’s faced throughout his MMA career.
“He [holds the record] for most submissions in Bellator and is seen as one of the best jiu-jitsu fighters,” Gracie said. “If I beat him, I can take that title away from him. And if he beats me, he can take my spot in the ranking.”
Even though they are both decorated grapplers, Gracie sees differences with his style on the ground compared to Yamauchi.
“He’s very dangerous and goes for the finish immediately on the arm, the back, so he’s quite like me,” Gracie said. “I think the only difference is that maybe I try to control the fight more before submitting [my opponent], and he’s different — he goes straight for the submission, one after the other, so that makes him very dangerous.
“Normally the guys I fight try to run away from the ground. I don’t believe he’ll do that, I hope. Sometimes wrestlers and grapplers become strikers. I hope he accepts to grapple with me. I’ve trained a lot of jiu-jitsu for this fight, [in addition to] what I train in striking and wrestling. I’m ready to represent one more time.
“I don’t think it will last five rounds. I think someone submits it first, or by knockout. I’m always counting on it. I never go in not expecting to end a fight.”