Igor Gracie will step into the cage this weekend at the World Series of Fighting’s second event. A member of the vaunted Gracie family, Igor is expecting the best from opponent Richard Patishnock in the cage.
MMAFrenzy caught up with Gracie earlier this month to discuss a variety of topics including his opponent, being a Gracie in MMA, the future of the guard in MMA, and more.
What are your thoughts on your WSOF 2 opponent Richard Patishnock?
“I am looking to work a lot of movement and, it is no secret, I am always looking to get the fight to the ground… where I know I’ll have a slight advantage”
Are you signed for multiple fights with WSOF? Thoughts on the promotion?
“Yeah, I signed a three fight deal with them. Hopefully this promotion will really take off with the NBC Sports deal, which is a big deal. I really like them signing a lot of [good] people.”
Obviously jiujitsu has long been your focus as a student and teacher, what have you done to improve your overall skills?
“I have been working a lot on my wrestling. It is definitely better for me to get the fight to the ground, BJJ works there. So I have to make sure my wrestling is up to date, so I can bring the fight down but I am also working on my striking on a daily basis. I try to vary my training as much as possible”
Being a member of the Gracie family seems to be a lot like being a part of Duke basketball or the New York Yankees, where you will always have your opponents looking to defeat you to add to their resume. How do you prepare for that?
“I am always training as hard as I can for every fight, I mean every fight I train like it is a title fight. I also know the other guy is really hungry, especially a guy like [Patishnock], because he wants to prove a point. He wants to use me as a stepping stone, and I understand this. So I train really hard to make sure that doesn’t happen. I know guys will be hungry whenever they’re fighting a Gracie”
Follow to page two for Gracie’s thoughts on the guard’s future in MMA, Wanderlei Silva’s big win, and more.
The use of the guard in MMA has been a hot topic as of late, with the butterfly guard seeming better suited for MMA. What are your thoughts on the future of the guard in MMA?
“Oh definitely the guard you use in jiujitsu you have to translate to an MMA game, some guys use some type of guard in jiujitsu that is not doable in MMA because your face is exposed and you’re vulnerable to punches. A great example is the deep half guard, your face is really exposed there.
Yesterday, I was watching the Bellator fights and Marlon Sandro was in a deep half, but his arms are under the guys legs so it was just his face exposed, and the guy hit him. I mean was tired and exhausted, and sometimes when you’re exhausted you don’t think straight. That’s why he goes back to his roots, you know? It is instinct to go to your jiujitsu [as a longtime practitioner], and you sometimes to go to thinks you’d do when you’re just training jiujitsu. I do it myself.
So you have to use some defensive guard, you have to protect yourself at all times but you also have to be offensive as well because guys are learning how to stall. They stay nice and tight, they stay square, and they go to short elbows and short punches without really exposing themselves. It is a hard situation, because you have to be able to open yourself up so you can get a sweep or submission but you also know you’re exposing yourself to get hit.”
The Brazilian MMA community seemed to be ecstatic over Wanderlei Silva’svictory at UFC on FUEL TV 8, what was it like watching that fight?
“Man that was one of the best fights I have seen of all time. I thought, I’m a huge Wanderlei Silva fan, but I thought Brian Stann had his number. I thought he would knock him out because he is a heavy-hitter, but Stann wasn’t smart in the fight and got pulled into Silva’s fight. He played his game, where you’re just swinging. Whenever you just start swinging your hands it becomes a lottery, you’re getting hit as you hit.
Wanderlei always gets knocked down, but he is very fast at recovery. You watch a lot of his old fights and he always gets knocked down but he will get up and keep banging to knock the guy out. It was fun to watch, it was a crazy fight.”
What are your ambitions for MMA, do you have any other projects you are working on?
“I have been involved in jiujitsu my whole life, I’m opening an academy and teaching full time at Renzo’s academy in New York, but I want to also focus on my MMA career. I’m getting better on a daily basis, and I am training with world class athletes and I try to train like a UFC champion on a daily basis. So I am feeling really good about it and I want to give it a good shot for the next few years to see how that goes.”
Do you think this is the year for MMA in New York?
“Yeah I think it will happen. I know every year they think they will have but I think this year is different. I know [the state] has been stubborn but they’re starting to lose business to other places.”
Anything you want to say to the fans?
“Thank you to everybody for their support, and I always appreciate it from my fans and my students. I am going to put on a good performance in this fight.”