HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. – When Neiman Gracie set out to compete as a mixed martial arts professional, he had a handful of goals both short-term and long-term he hoped to accomplish.
Every fighter wants to be champion, a feat Gracie (11-2 MMA, 9-2 BMMA) has still yet to accomplish under the Bellator banner. However, Gracie is comfortable with the progress he’s made in disassociating the stigma of only being able to grapple as a “Gracie.”
“I think I’m doing already one of the things that I wanted to do, which was try to bring the Gracies to the next level, meaning that we can do everything, not just go for takedowns and do jiu-jitsu,” Gracie told MMA Junkie Radio recently when caught “Off Guard.” “Since I started MMA, I always thought of bringing the Gracie name to the new level of fighting in every aspect of the fight and being a complete fighter. I think I’m doing that already, but I want to be a world champion, man. This is the main thing. I will do it one day for sure.”
His improvement in the stand-up has been a career-long quest, but Gracie points to the addition of Rafael Cordeiro, of Kings MMA, as a major player in his striking advancements.
“It’s a big difference,” Gracie said. “He gave me the belief, I think. I always trained striking but I always wanted to go for takedowns all the time. He gave me the belief and the confidence to go out there and use my striking. I think that’s the biggest thing. And on top of that, Master is so good because he doesn’t want to turn you into a striker. He always tells me, ‘If you see the takedown, go for it.’ He’s not trying to be one dimensional. He thinks about the game as a whole. I think this is what makes him the best.”
As for what’s next, Bellator has yet to announce a single event for 2022. However, Gracie revealed he’s hearing his next bout will take place in the first quarter of the year.
“I think around February,” Gracie said. “That’s what I heard, and I think it’s going to be a great fight.”