Gregor Gracie turned to mixed martial arts (MMA) back in 2007 after helping out on his brother Renzo's International Fight League (IFL) team and realizing that he was just as good as many of the fighters. However, his career has progressed slowly, partly due to an injury that forced a two year absence from the sport.
Gracie fought three times in 2011, finishing the year with a decision win over Seok Mo Kim at ONE Fighting Championship 1. His record now stands at 6-1 and he is coming off four straight wins and says he wants to fight regularly in 2012.
"Last year I did three fights in the year and this year I am hoping to do as many or more. Hopefully I will be fighting for ONE FC on March 31st in Singapore, we are still working that out and we are working on finding an opponent but hopefully I will be there."
He recently returned from Jakarta where he was cornering Rolles for his quickfire win over Bob Sapp at ONE FC 2. The Beast didn't win himself many fans with that performance but Gracie was relieved to see his brother emerge with the victory.
"I'm very happy to get the win, Bob Sapp is a dangerous guy and he can end a fight any second so we worked a strategy to take him down and finish the fight right away and it worked. I really enjoyed fighting at the first show and being at the second show the memories came flooding back, I used to wake up in the middle of the night to watch Pride back in Brazil and so it is unbelievable to be a part of this show and have that same feeling again."
In his last fight Gracie went the distance for the first time in his career, something which he regards as a mixed blessing. He would liked to have finished his opponent, Seok Mo Kim, but says he was happy to fight for the full 15 minutes.
"I was a little disappointed that I couldn't find a way to submit him, I am always trying to finish fights and I was disappointed I couldn't do that. He was very tough so I have to give him credit but it was good because now I know I can go three rounds. I've always worked hard in training and done many rounds in the academy but it's not the same, now I know I can go three rounds no problem so I have a little more experience. Hopefully next fight I will be able to finish earlier."
Gracie has won multiple Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) competitions at a national, regional and international level but has put his grappling on one side to focus on his MMA career,
"I haven't done BJJ competitions for quite a bit, almost a year, it's hard to do both BJJ and MMA. if I get a chance I will compete again but I won't be as prepared as I should be because I am focusing more on MMA but I really enjoy BJJ competitions."
"We have all the team there. I train with Renzo, Igor, Rolles, Ricardo Almeida, Frankie Edgar trains with us sometimes, we have a lot of great guys, we have a great team and have been doing very well in competitions."
According to Gracie spending time with the UFC Lightweight Champion has helped him to make the transition from being a BJJ practitioner to becoming a fully fledged mixed martial artist.
"I train with Frankie Edgar three times a week and I help him and he helps me also. The whole team is like this we help each other to grow each one has a strong point which they can teach, doesn't matter if they are UFC champ or just a guy who is starting, everybody has got something to teach and everybody has got something to learn."
As he looks to follow in the footsteps of his half brother and training partner Renzo by establishing a reputation in Asia, Gracie is fortunate to have a base there. Evolve MMA in Singapore was founded by Chatri Sityodtong, one of Renzo's students, and is affiliated to the Renzo Gracie Academy.
For Gracie having a base in Asia makes it much easier to make the journey from New York without losing any sharpness in the process.
"Before my last fight I arrived one week before and I trained at Evolve MMA. If I fight again in March, which I hopefully will, maybe I will spend a bit longer there to get used to the time difference. It's a great training environment, they are really professional, it's like having a home away from home. They are the greatest team in Asia and they are growing a lot, I learn a lot from the guys there, it's a big help."
The Gracie family have a long history of fighting in Asia and now that he, Igor and Rolles have all signed long term contracts with ONE FC and Gregor is very excited about the opportunity to showcase his talents on such a visible platform.
"I was very surprised to see all the posters everywhere when I arrived in Singapore before the first show and the venue was unbelievable, I wasn't expecting this. That's why we came back for the second show and we want to be back for the third as well, it's a great event, it's really looking good."
Without the Gracies it is highly doubtful whether MMA would every have developed into one of the most popular sports on the planet. There is a tremendous appetite so see fighters who bear this particular surname succeed and with a 6-1 record and a four fight winning streak Gregor is certainly on the right track.