[This was reprinted with permission from MMA Junkie.]
ROSEMONT, Ill. – Whether it’s his approach toward his fights or the way he goes about his career, Royce Gracie has one key advice for great-nephew Neiman Gracie: patience.
Neiman (8-0 MMA, 6-0 BMMA) added yet another submission win to his unbeaten record on Saturday, at Bellator 198, when he finished Javier Torres (10-4 MMA, 0-1 BMMA) with a second-round arm-triangle choke. Barring his lone decision win, it was the first time the unbeaten Gracie needed more than eight minutes to finish a bout.
He got it done, nonetheless. And Royce, who always tries to keep a neutral, coaching eye when watching members of his famous family fighting, later shared that taking his time was something he’d talked about with the 29-year-old welterweight.
“I told him, ‘Don’t get frustrated if you don’t win in the first round,’” Gracie said. “It’s three rounds. Win one round at a time. If you happen to have a chance to finish early, good. If not, the guy is a tough opponent. He knows what he’s doing. He’s a good grappler, too. He knows what you want to do. So win one round at a time.”
That also happens to be the type of step-by-step approach Royce is hoping Neiman takes toward his unbeaten career, which now features six wins under the Bellator banner.
“He wants to fight for the title; I say fight whomever the promotion puts in front of you,” Gracie said. “Don’t worry about titles, don’t worry about – it will come. You’ve just got to fight one fight at a time, it doesn’t matter, whomever.
“Like he did in the fight. I think he took a hit and he composed himself very well. Didn’t panic. Same thing with (Dillon) Danis, he took a hit and, OK, he composed himself. Didn’t panic. So that’s the good strategy, that’s the right strategy.”
The Paramount-televised main card at Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Ill., near Chicago, brought a big win for the family but, as Royce pointed out, it also meant a big win for jiu-jitsu. Of the five bouts, only the headliner ended in a knockout. The rest – thanks to Gracie, Danis, Emmanuel Sanchez and Rafael Lovato Jr. – were all submissions.
So how was it like for the UFC Hall of Famer, who remains a larger-than-life symbol of Brazilian jiu-jitsu in the history of MMA, to watch such a unique night unfold?
“A lot of people complain, ‘Oh, the rules favor the standup. Oh, the rules favor the grapplers’– no, the rules are even for both of them,” Gracie said. “In a night like tonight, the standup guys are going to say, ‘The rules favored the grapplers.’
“But then, next week, it’s a bunch of knockouts, and then the grapplers are going to say, ‘Well, the rules favor the standup guys.’ It’s not that it favors one of the other; it’s a strategy game.”
But, if what you gathered from all this is that it’s still hard to pinpoint which style prevails over the other, Gracie will stop you right there with a clarification.
“OK, hold on: We already proved that Gracie jiu-jitsu is the best self-defense style out there,” Gracie said. “That’s why my family created this. It was more of a quest that my family had to find out which style is the best. We proved that, without jiu-jitsu, all those guys, the stand-up guys would lose much faster. They have to know jiu-jitsu.”