The long-awaited UFC on ESPN 1 card tomorrow night (Sun., Feb. 17, 2019) from Phoenix, Arizona, will feature a premier heavyweight showdown between Cain Velasquez and Francis Ngannou, but it will also mark the Octagon debut of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu royalty.
Kron Gracie, son of the great Rickson Gracie and grandson of the legendary Helio Gracie, will make his UFC arrival against fellow featherweight Alex Caceres on the ESPN main card. It will be Gracie’s first fight since submitting veteran Tatsuya Kawajiri back in 2016 under the RIZIN banner.
At the age of 30, Gracie is getting a late start to his UFC career, especially considering the BJJ prodigy only has four professional MMA fights under his belt (all wins). But despite the long road traveled to get to this point, Kron is feeling confident heading into his UFC debut.
“It wasn’t difficult to take my time because, as I learned jiu-jitsu, I realized it takes time,” Gracie told reporters earlier this week (h/t MMAjunkie). “It takes time to get good at certain moves. It takes time to do certain things and, with jiu-jitsu, I learned how to learn. I learned how to get better. So it took time for me to get good at jiu-jitsu; it took time for me to get my credentials in jiu-jitsu and to feel good about fighting and training with the right people and being in the right place and just being at the right place at the right time.”
As for the fight itself, Gracie feels like UFC could have matched him up with a more dangerous fighter than Caceres, who is just 9-9 (1 NC) throughout his UFC tenure. That doesn’t mean Gracie is overlooking “Bruce Leeroy” in his UFC debut, he just wants to fight the toughest fights that the 145-pound division has to offer.
“I think, stylistically, it’s a cool matchup because it’s kind of a little bit old school to a sense,” Gracie said. “But, personally, I like to fight guys that are going to try to come in for the kill. I think that’s a better fight, as opposed to fighting somebody who may run away, so I’d rather fight tougher fights. Win or lose, I’d rather fight better fights, guys who are going to try to come in and put some action on me.”
If Gracie is able to dispose of Caceres in fashion it’s likely that UFC promotes the hell out of him in 2019. After all, his last name carries weight wherever he goes and he’s already popular among hardcore fight fans given his relationship with Nick and Nate Diaz.
Should Gracie escape UFC on ESPN 1 will his health in tact, the rising prospect is aiming to make up for lost time and schedule a quick turnaround.
“I’d like to fight as much as possible, as soon as possible,” Gracie said. “I think that’s where I’m at, at this point of my life. I think the experience that I needed, I already got, and now I just need to rack up some fights.”
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC on ESPN 1 fight card, starting with the ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPN at 7 p.m. ET, before the ESPN main card start time at 9 p.m. ET.