Bellator 254’s Robson Gracie Jr: “The New Generation is Coming”

Robson Gracie Jr Bellator MMA
Robson Gracie Jr vs. Oscar Vera Credit: Bellator MMA

Robson Gracie Jr. will face Billy Goff at Bellator 254, a bout first reported by Cageside Press last week, which had previously been scheduled for March, then September. The March date was lost for obvious reasons — the coronavirus pandemic — while Gracie was forced out of the September date due to a knee injury.

“I hurt my knee back in March, ten days before the fight was supposed to happen. I decided to fight anyway with my knee like that,” Gracie told Cageside Press recently regarding the injury. However, when September rolled around, the knee remained an issue, “so it was better for me if I could avoid the fight, and go to December.”

With the added time off, Gracie is now back to 100%. Focused on Goff, and not feeling any added pressure with the fight date being pushed back time and time again.

“I felt pressure the first two fights, but now I’m confident in myself as a fighter and there’s no pressure anymore,” the 31-year old told us.

The long wait has given Robson Gracie Jr. plenty of time to study his opponent. “He’s a good striker, and of course I’m going to avoid that. I don’t want to try to strike with him right now,” admitted Gracie. “So I’m going to try to keep to my game plan, which is the takedown.”

Compared to some previous opponents, however, Gracie noted that Billy Goff “has better ground skills. I’ve faced three strikers, and he has a little more jiu-jitsu than the other guys.”

“For sure it’s going to be a tough fight. But I’m ready for that, I’m ready too,” Gracie continued. “I know he’s tough, but I’ve been training also, and I’m ready for stand-up, and the takedowns, going to the ground.”

Gracie envisions the finish coming via submission, trapping an arm or a neck, while on top. “I’m going to try to keep the fight on top. I hope I don’t end up on bottom. I’m going to try to get the mount, and try to get to the top. But whatever, I’m ready for three rounds, I’m ready for anything,” he noted.

Robson is far from the only Gracie family member competing under the Bellator banner at the moment. The brother of Renzo Gracie and uncle to Neiman Gracie has seen his nephew achieve great things with the promotion, challenging for the welterweight title in June 2019 against Rory MacDonald. Khonry Gracie, son of UFC pioneer Royce Gracie, has competed for Bellator as well. Royce himself took a single fight in the promotion in 2016, defeating Ken Shamrock for the second time.

It seems that the Gracie family has found a home in Scott Coker’s organization. “The new generation is coming. [Bellator] gave us the opportunity, I respect Bellator a lot for this,” Robson told Cageside Press about the family’s connection to the organization.

“I’m happy because the Gracies are fighting and keeping the legacy [alive]. It doesn’t matter if we’re winning or losing, we’re still there,” he continued. “That fighting spirit is in us.”

Gracie admits, however, that he wishes his own MMA career had started earlier. Unfortunately, “personal problems” kept him out of the cage until his late 20s. “Since I started late, I want to try to give everything that I have now,” he added. “Because if I keep looking to the past, it’s going to get sad, it’s going to give me a lot of regret. So I don’t try to think about the time that I lost, I think about the time that I have. I think I have at least six more years, in a good way. I’m going to try to do my best, and give everything that I have in those six years.”

Bellator 254 takes place this Thursday, December 10 at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, CT. The main card airs live on CBS Sports Network following online prelims available via Cageside Press.