When it comes to family legacies, no name in the sport of MMA carries both the pressure and the prestige of the Gracie family. Since the legendary Royce Gracie won the inaugural UFC tournament 1993, the Gracie name has been synonymous with MMA. And, of course, jiu-jitsu.
Any number of Gracie family members have competed over the years. Kron Gracie currently fights in the UFC. Neiman Gracie has found great success in the Bellator cage. But it’s Khonry Gracie who is the son of Royce, which puts more of the spotlight on him.
Khonry Gracie (2-1) returns at Bellator 252 this Thursday, looking to earn this third consecutive win in the promotion. The 23-year old goes up against the 1-1 Trevor Gudde.
“Everything has just slowed down pretty much because of rules and regulations, especially in California, where I live,” Gracie said of his training situation, speaking at the Bellator 252 media day this week. It’s down to one-on-ones, two-on-ones, little more — but he never really stopped training despite the difficulties the pandemic has posed.
When Gracie does train, he prefers to do so in the Gi, rather than shorts. “I personally like to keep it very traditional, I like to train in the Gi,” said Gracie, who admits that he’ll stay in the Gi up to 60% of the time even when training for an MMA fight.
Over the years, MMA has evolved from a single-discipline sport, where the best martial artists from each style competed, to a multi-discipline mishmash where fighters train in pretty much everything. Wrestling has emerged as a dominant base, but jiu-jitsu remains integral to success in mixed martial arts, Khonry Gracie believes.
“I think that in order for you to successfully practice MMA, you need to know some kind of jiu-jitsu,” he stated, adding as an example that “you can’t go into a fight without learning boxing, because how are you going to throw punches? Or kickboxing.”
“In order to complete your full MMA circle, jiu-jitsu has to be one of the martial arts that, you don’t need to practice all the time, but you do need to learn,” he opined.
With the name Gracie carries, there’s always a question of what’s next, and when he might take the next step up in competition. “I’ll fight anybody Bellator puts in front of me,” he said Tuesday. “After I win on Thursday, we’ll see what the next plan is, where we’re going to go from here.”
Watch the full Bellator 252 virtual media day press scrum with Khonry Gracie above. The event takes place this Thursday, November 12 at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, CT, with the main card airing live on CBS Sports Network. The preliminary card will stream live here on Cageside Press.