Rolles Gracie will finally make his World Series of Fighting debut tonight at WSOF 5. The Gracie Jiu-Jitsu heavyweight will take on Derrick Mehmen in his return to the cage in Atlantic City. MMAFrenzy caught up the member of the distinguished Gracie family to discuss tonight’s bout, his return from injury, BJJ in the heavyweight division, and more.
What are your thoughts on WSOF 5 opponent Derrick Mehmen?
He is a tough guy and his record shows it. He has finished most of his fights via KO/TKO, so he brings some power to the cage. I am excited to fight someone like him and test myself against someone at his level.
How does your wrist feel and how frustrating was that injury prior to WSOF 3?
It was really frustrating, it happened so close to the fight that I had already had most of my training camp. So it was really frustrating to have to pull out. My intention was to still fight but I realized I couldn’t after a training session.
I have been trying to arrange a fight with WSOF since WSOF 1 in December but obviously that bout didn’t come together and then the injury was frustrating. So now I am excited to finally be a part of a great card.
Do you feel BJJ’s place in MMA’s heavyweight division is different from other weight classes (like wrestling)?
I believe it is still the same. I think what is more important for heavyweights is to have a tough top game. At heavyweight it is harder to get up than for some of the lightweights that can just pop up. Whereas heavyweights having a top game is just so important. That’s why I think wrestlers are very good because they know how to keep you down. Being good in jiu-jitsu is still important on top so you can avoid the attacks in the guard too.
How excited are you to be fighting on a card with two of your family members on the card with you?
Oh it is really cool. I actually had the opportunity happen to fight with my brothers in ONE FC, and now I get to do it with my brother and cousin. It is really cool because not only do we get to fight together, but we get to train together as well. So to me that is a help because we can push each other forward.
With other camps you can get mixed up with guys training for fights at other times, so it is helpful to fight at the same time. I was talking to Sapo [Rafael Natal] the other day and he was telling me that even after he fights* he wants to keep up the training pace to help out my brother who competes at the same weight.
How do you like fighting for WSOF and the freedom you have to continue to compete in BJJ and other things? Does Ray Sefo’s influence help?
You know I think it helps fighters to have promoters who have been in Ray’s position before. It makes it better for the fighters. He was an accomplished fighter who did well and has money and wants to make more money. So he knows how to treat fighters to get our best in a fight. He understands the company helps the fighter like the fighter helps the company.
I asked Igor about this before WSOF 2 but do you feel any added pressure because of your family’s legacy?
No, not necessarily. I mean of course you will draw more attention, whether you want it or not, because of my last name but I put pressure on myself to win regardless of my last name. I feel more pressure from myself than I do from my family because I want to be in the best shape and be totally ready all the time, I just want to win.
If anything, my family serves as motivation and I think that’s a good thing because it allows me to push forward and be a good example to the future generations of the family.
How long are you looking to continue fighting in MMA?
This is actually a really hard question to answer. I feel great right now but I have to take it one fight at a time. As long as my body holds up I want to keep competing, that could be 1 year or ten. I don’t feel like I have accomplished all I want to in the sport yet.
Anything you would like to tell your fans?
I am really happy to fight for WSOF and I like being a part of an organization that seems to be on the right track. I want to help this be a success and I am keeping my fingers crossed that it will be.
You can catch Gracie in action this weekend as he takes on Mehmen on the NBC Sports Network main card, be sure to follow the fighter on twitter @RollesGracie.
The World Series of Fighting will return to action this Saturday for WSOF 5 at the Revel Casino Hotel in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Saturday’s card will see former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski take on Mike Kyle in the main event.