Robson Gracie Jr. is one of four members of the Gracie family currently fighting for Bellator MMA. He returns this week for his third pro fight, going down at Bellator 234 in Tel Aviv, Israel.
Bellator 234 is another destination fight for Robson Gracie Jr., who made his debut in Hawaii last year. This time, he’s in Israel. Really adding up those frequent flyer miles.
The experience, he told Cageside Press on Tuesday, is “really great. I’ve had more opportunity to chase my dream. It will be a really good fight in Israel. This is a place I’ve always wanted to come. Now I have this opportunity not just to visit, but also fighting. So I’m really excited.”
He’s enjoyed the travel so far in his career. “That’s the really good thing, fighting all over the place.” In fact, he had asked to fight in Italy, but the timing didn’t work out. Maybe next time. Still, “I’m really having a good time traveling the world, doing what I really like to do,” he added.
His opponent, Amir Basheer, is neither an experienced fighter nor a well-known one, but Robson himself is entering just his third pro contest. He’s also at a slight disadvantage, due to the lack of footage for Basheer. So instead, he’s focusing on himself, and trying to cover all the bases.
“I couldn’t see a lot of things about him,” said Gracie, who admits that ultimately the plan is to get his opponent down and submit him. “I couldn’t really see if he was a southpaw or orthodox.” As a result, Gracie has simply mixed up his training partners.
And while yes, you can expect to fight to go to the ground, “I trained for everything,” Gracie added. “Started use my boxing more, punching and kicking a little bit more. But for sure, jiu-jitsu is always going to be number one.”
Unfortunately, due to “a couple personal problems,” Robson Gracie Jr. wasn’t able to embark on his MMA career sooner. Those problems included moving, and a couple of injuries, including to his back, that he tried to push through. Something he admits was more his fault than anything else. “But finally I get an opportunity, so I’m going to try to do my best, and fight as much as I can.”
Things are feeling better now. “Every training camp I feel better, because I know how my body is, how my body feels with the diet, with the weight cut, how to avoid injuries,” he said. “I think I’m training more in a smart way, so I’m feeling much better every training camp.”
Along with training, Gracie is still a jiu-jitsu instructor. Right up until he left for Israel, he continued to teach classes. “I got here on Friday, on Monday I was teaching,” he revealed. “For me, it helps a little bit too. Sometimes students come with a question, and you need to find an answer. I think teaching is really important.”
Of course, when he does have training camp, he teaches fewer classes, trading off with training partners. Aside from teaching, Gracie would also like to remain involved with grappling tournaments. The black belt brother of Renzo Gracie told us that “for sure, I want to do a couple no-gi tournaments. Even the small ones.”
For now, however, the focus is on MMA, and Bellator. Who have assembled a small army of Gracies at this point. UFC pioneer Royce Gracie fought his last fight for the promotion. Neiman, Khonry, and Robson all continue to fight under the Bellator banner.
“We have one more, Kywan, who just signed up with Bellator also,” he noted. Kywan Gracie singed with the promotion just recently. “Now we have four. Imagine one day, all of us on the same card. It’s going to be amazing,” he said. “This motivates me a lot.”
Robson Gracie Jr faces Ameer Bashir as part of the Bellator 234 preliminary card. The event takes place Thursday in Tel Aviv, Israel, airing Friday, with the preliminary card streaming on the Bellator App and Cageside Press.