Newly acquired Strikeforce light-heavyweight fighter and member of the legendary Gracie clan, Roger Gracie (2-0) recently took some time to talk to Mark Wayne of Fightline.com about his upcoming May 15th bout against MMA veteran Kevin Randleman, making the transition from pure grappling to Mixed Martial Arts and more.
Fightline: Hey Roger, thanks for taking the time to talk today.
Gracie: No Problem.
Fightline: First of all, how is training going for your fight against Kevin Randleman?
Gracie: Yeah, training so far is going very good. Now just in the final stage, the last two weeks, just making everything sharp. So everything is going great.
Fightline: I know that you have Brazilian Jiu-jitsu academies in London. Do you do most of your training in London or do you take your camp elsewhere?
Gracie: Now I think I do most of my training there. For this fight, the last few weeks before the fight I came here to New York to finalize my training here but I was able to do most of my training here… working on my conditioning, getting everything sharp, getting my technique right. I’m training with my cousin Renzo [Gracie}.
Fightline: So you are currently training in New York with Renzo?
Gracie: Yeah, I’m in New York now. Two weeks to go.
Fightline: Who else besides Renzo have you brought in to your training camp to help you prepare?
Gracie: All my cousins are here,… Ricardo Almeida. Renzo has a lot of good training partners here, the same thing with Ricardo at his academy. So, we have a great team together.
Fightline: You have an extensive Jiu-jitsu pedigree and have competed against and submitted some of the best grapplers in the world. You’ve now fought twice in MMA and are going into your third bout, against Randleman. What are your plans for the future in terms of your MMA career? Is that where most of your focus is at or is grappling still your main area of focus?
Gracie: I think it’s both. I never plan to stop fighting Jiu-jitsu. I’m gonna compete in the World Championship three weeks after my fight with Randleman… It’s been two years since I fought, since my last fight, but I’ve been training to compete if it happened in the last two years but I’m sure now everything will be fine. I’m probably gonna be competing more than I’ve been in the last couple of years.
Fightline: How do you feel your transition from high-level grappling to MMA has gone? What are some areas that you think you need to improve on?
Gracie: The transition has been good, there’s a lot of adaptation to fight MMA. Most of the techniques you can use with the Gi it is very difficult to use them once your opponent is throwing punches at you. It becomes much harder. Life is not easy when you have to adapt to the different situations that come up [laughs]. It’s a change but I’ve been feeling pretty comfortable.
Fightline: You’re now signed with the Strikeforce organization. How do you see yourself stacking up against some of the organization’s tougher light-heavyweights like Gegard Mousasi, Dan Henderson and the champion “King Mo” Lawal, and do you have aspirations of one day winning the 205lbs. title?
Gracie: I mean, as long as I keep fighting and I keep winning that’s where the path will lead but it’s not on my mind, you know what I mean? Competing for the title, for the belt, I don’t really care about titles. I fight for the thrill that you have when you compete against someone. You know, I think if I keep winning that that will happen for sure but it’s not something that I’m going to worry about.
Fightline: Who are some of your favorite fighters to watch compete in MMA currently?
Gracie: There’s a lot of good fighters out there today, it’s not fair for me to mention just a few. There’s a lot of guys that I enjoy though. I like to watch Demian Maia fight, Fedor [Emelianenko] for me is a great fighter. Mo Lawal just had a great battle against [Gegard] Mousasi. There’s a lot of good fighters there.
Fightline: Speaking of Demian Maia, who is arguably one of the best grapplers in MMA, are there any Mixed Martial Artist’s whose grappling especially impresses you?
Gracie: Yeah, you know, there’s a lot of good Jiu-jitsu fighters competing in MMA. Demian Maia, all of my cousins when they fight, when the fight goes to the ground it’s always a great show. You have [Antonio Rodrigo] “Minotauro” [Nogueira], he tries to submit his opponent, when he fights he tries to take them down. Marcelo Garcia, when he fought he completely dominated whoever the opponent is on the ground so it’s pretty exciting to watch.
Fightline: How do you see your fight against Randleman playing out? What advantages do you believe that you possess that will turn this fight into a victory for you?
Gracie: I’m just really focused for this fight. I know Randleman is a great fighter. He’s extremely dangerous, he’s really fast. He knocked out [Mirko] “Cro Cop” [Filipovic], who is a much better stand up fighter than he is, but because of his speed and his power he beat him pretty quick. He has over thirty fights now so I think it will be a great experience… I’m excited.
Fightline: Great. Well thanks again for taking the time Roger and good luck in your fight.
Gracie: No problem, it was a pleasure man. Thanks for the call.
You can see Roger in action next weekend at Strikeforce: Heavy Artillery which is going down in St. Louis, Missouri, at the Scottrade Center. The card will feature a headlining bout between Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion Alistair Overeem and Brett Rogers as well as another heavyweight tilt between Andrei Arlovski and Antonio “Giant” Silva.