The Gracies have been an integral part of ONE FC with Rolles preparing to fight for the second time on August 31st and Gregor set to make his third appearance for Asia's biggest MMA organization. Igor is the only one yet to make his ONE FC debut but that will change when he takes on Jung Hwan Cha in Manila.
Many feel that Igor is the most outstanding prospect of the current crop of Gracies and the welterweight has won his last four fights by submission. He was signed by Bellator after only two fights but came up short against Vagner Rocha, currently plying his trade in the UFC.
Since dropping a decision to the Brazilian at Bellator 11 Igor has not lost a fight and carries a lot of momentum into his ONE FC debut. He will not be in for an easy ride as he takes on experienced Korean Jung Hwan Cha who knocked out Ryo Chonan in 2010.
A win would instantly put Igor in the mix for a shot at the ONE FC welterweight title when it is introduced and MMA Mania caught up with him to discuss how training is going and fighting alongside two of his brothers in the same venue where Ali fought Frazier in Manila...
You have been to ONE FC shows to see Gregor and Rolles fight, what did you think of them and what do you think of ONE FC as an organization?
It will be the biggest MMA organization in a very near future. They are taking Asia by storm, and I don't think they will stop there. It's an honor to be part of such an amazing organization.
Are you hoping to be the first welterweight champion?
That was always my dream, to become a champion of a big organization like ONE FC. But this is my first fight at ONE FC and I have to establish myself there first.
How disappointed were you to see Gregor lose his last fight and do you think there was anything he could have done differently in that last fight?
It's always hard to see a brother lose, worse than when I lose. He fought a very tough opponent, but he can beat Adam Kayoom on any given day. What went wrong there is that he almost finished the fight several times in the first round, exhausting himself and then not recuperating in time.
Do you know anything about your opponent Jung Hwan Cha?
It's going to be a tough test in my career. He's a good striker with excellent takedown defense and a good grappler as well. He's good all around. But I know I can beat him, and I'm training very hard to do so.
Do you do much sparring or rolling with Gregor and Renzo who are both roughly the same size as you?
I train with Gregor in a daily basis, since we have fights on the same dates and our training schedule are almost the same. Renzo runs some of our training sessions and jumps in once in a while to literally teach us how it's done. Beating us a little bit. Ha ha!
Who are your other training partners?
I have a large stable of fighters at Renzo's. My cousin Neiman, Artur Rofi, Rafael Sapo, Luciano Cristovam, Jamal Patterson and many others. We also train at Ricardo Almeida Academy where I get to train with Frankie Edgar, Kris McCray, Chris Ligouri, Tom Deblass, and many others as well.
You didn't fight at all in 2010 why was that?
I had a fight that got cancelled the day before. It was me and Gregor on the same card. That was the only fight that got booked in 2010 and unfortunately it got cancelled.
Your first pro MMA fight was against a fighter with 10 fights, do you think you have been given harder opponents in your career because you are a Gracie?
That's for sure. I had several fighters that backed out because of the last name. It was always much harder to get fights with fighters with the same experience. So we have to step up competition a little bit.
You have won four fights in a row by submission, how much does it help your confidence to have that sort of momentum behind you?
Absolutely. And I believe that I'm improving everyday and everything goes right I'll extend this winning streak.
Are you hoping to fight regularly for ONE FC next year?
Yes, I want a very busy 2012 and 2013. I want to take my MMA career to the next level.
How much are you looking forward to fighting in front of 16,500 fans in Manila?
Very excited. Especially because the Filipinos have a strong fighting culture and the crowd should go insane.
Are you hoping to demonstrate how effective BJJ is with a submission win?
That's always the game plan. That's my strength and I will enforce it.