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Undefeated welterweight contender Neiman Gracie will have a crack at the Bellator title in next month’s grand prix semifinal bout with champ Rory MacDonald, and the Brazilian’s team is predicting a definitive victory.
“Believe me, Neiman Gracie is going to finish Rory MacDonald,” Gracie’s manager, Ali Abdelaziz, told MMA Junkie Radio.
Gracie (9-0 MMA, 7-0 BMMA) and MacDonald (20-5-1 MMA, 2-1-1 BMMA) meet at next month’s Bellator 222 event, which takes place June 14 at Madison Square Garden in New York. The contest is part of the night’s main card, which streams on DAZN following prelims on MMA Junkie.
MacDonald’s welterweight title will be on the line in the bout, and while the Canadian veteran openly questioned his fighting future following an April majority draw with Jon Fitch, Abdelaziz says they are not expecting any lessened version of the champ.
“Rory questioned himself, and I don’t like that as a fan because I respect him, but we are fighting the world champion, one of the greatest welterweights of all-time,” Abdelaziz said. “We’re not fighting the broken Rory MacDonald. We’re not buying it.”
Instead, Abdelaziz said he’s simply banking on the strength of his own client, who he believes could be the greatest fighter yet produced from the famed Gracie clan.
“Neiman Gracie might be one of the best Gracies we’ve ever seen,” Abdelaziz said. “He’s a 4.0 Gracie. He’s not just going to try to pull guard and submit you. He’s going to take you down. He’s going to strike with you. He’s going to kick with you. You don’t see this Gracie anymore – they’re going to come and pull guard. No. It’s a different era.”
It wasn’t always that way, Abdelaziz admitted. Guiding Gracie first through WSOF ranks and now through Bellator has been a process, he says. But Abdelaziz believes Gracie’s growth is proof if his dedication to success.
“We used to come, every night, go to my house, and he would eat all my food and ice cream,” Abdelaziz recalled. “My wife is like, ‘Where is the ice cream?’ Neiman was soft at the time, but Neiman, he got picked on so bad, and he kept training and training and training and training.
“Gregor Gracie is a (expletive) phenom. Igor Gracie is an athlete. Neiman, everything you see, he’s worked hard for. He’s not fast. He’s not the strongest, but everything you see in Neiman now, he worked so hard, and he has to continue to work hard to maintain this quality. But I’m going to tell you something – it’s going to take a hell of a man to beat Neiman Gracie on June 14 in Bellator.”
And while Abdelaziz said his team is expecting the best MacDonald available at Bellator 222, he points to Gracie’s dominating win over highly-hyped prospect Ed Ruth as an example of what will happen.
“Listen, I’ve got nothing but respect for Rory MacDonald, but Rory MacDonald’s time has gone,” Abdelaziz said. “It’s done. It’s passed. Now is Neiman’s time. It’s Gracie time right now.
“Mark my word again – this is a prediction: Neiman Gracie is going to finish Rory MacDoanld June 14.”
To hear from Abdelaziz, check out the video above.
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