Gregor Gracie is looking to continue the rich tradition of successful Gracie jiu-jitsu fighters in mixed martial arts. After a three fight stint in One FC saw him alternate wins and losses, he'll be looking to showcase his skills in America for the first time in over two years.
Tyson Steele is an accomplished ground fighter in his own right, at one point finishing five straight opponents via rear naked choke (and six of his nine wins overall). He enters this fight riding a three fight win streak and most recently scored a decision win for the first time in his 10 fight career.
How he got here: Gregor Gracie was a trainer under Renzo Gracie in New Jersey back in the IFL days but after working alongside Renzo's team for an extended period, he decided he'd like to give mixed martial arts a shot himself. He started his career off promising enough, submitting his first two opponents but a devastating head kick knockout loss at the hands of Doug Gordon had him rethinking his career.
Two years later, Gracie reemerged, winning three straight fights and earning an invite to compete for the One FC promotion in Asia.
In One FC, Gracie experienced mixed results. He won a decision in his debut, but was upset by Adam Shahir Kayoom this past June via decision after slowing down in the final two rounds. He got back on track against Nicholas Mann at ONE FC 5, winning by first round armbar just two months ago
Now, he's slated to make his World Series of Fighting debut against Steele.
How he gets it done: This one is pretty simple. As a Gracie fighter, Gregor absolutely wants to get this fight to the ground and put himself in a dominant position. He can't afford to be sloppy as Steele is pretty competent on the canvas and mistakes will be capitalized upon by either fighter.
Gracie's best plan of action is to quickly close the distance and work for takedowns or trips along the fence. If he can put Steele on his back and make him uncomfortable, he should be well on his way to winning the fight.
The faster he can finish the better as Gracie has slowed down in fights that have gone past the first two rounds. Both of his career losses were fights that went into the third round so this is definitely something he'd like to avoid.
Record: 9-1 overall
How he got here: Tyson Steele got his professional MMA career kicked off in 2008, quickly reeling off six straight first round stoppage victories on the local Canadian scene including an impressive five straight rear naked chokes.
This early boon to his career earned him an invite to Canada's premier fight league Maximum Fighting Championships, but when he couldn't finish Curtis DeMarce in the first round, he was surprisingly submitted in the second frame via triangle choke.
Since coming up short in the MFC, Steele has reeled off three straight victories including two inside the first minute of the first round. In his last bout, he went the distance for the first time in his career against Jarod Milko, winning a unanimous decision.
This earned him another shot at the big stage against Gregor Gracie.
How he gets it done: Steele loves to go to the ground, but he's going to have to be cautious against a dangerous fighter like Gregor Gracie. If he dives in recklessly, he's going to find himself in a world of hurt either via submissions or just bad positioning due to being swept.
Steele should be cautiously aggressive, perhaps testing his stand-up in the early portion of the fight to see if he has an advantage there. If he does, he should press it and try to avoid the ground game completely.
If Gracie starts to slow down and the fight goes into the second or third round, Steele can afford to be more aggressive and even take him down. Gracie's been knocked out before so perhaps a heavy assault of ground and pound could turn the tide in Steele's favor.
Fight X-Factor: The biggest X-Factor for this fight is the leap in competition level for Steele. Sure, he looks great against local fighters he can submit in the first round, but that lone loss to Curtis DeMarce is troubling, especially considering DeMarce is 12-10 overall and lost three of his last four MFC fights. Gracie is a significantly stronger grappler than DeMarce and if he can get his hands on Steele and "The Man of" is not ready for him, it could be a rough night for the Canadian.
Bottom Line: This is a bout between two men who love to take the fight to the ground and work for submissions. Expect to see takedowns, sweeps, submission attempts and some entertaining scrambles. Of course, the ground games could cancel each other out and we could be privy to a sloppy kickboxing match. Whether or not this fight is worth your time likely depends on the former over the latter outcome.
Who will come out on top at World Series of Fighting 1? Tells us your predictions in the comments below!