Ralek Gracie didn’t have the easiest of missions in his third MMA outing. At Dream 14 in Japan, the young fighter faced an old acquaintance of the family, locking horns with Kazushi Sakuraba, who has beaten Royler, Renzo, Ryan and Royce in the past. Still finding his feet in the style, Ralek had an opponent known as “The Gracie Hunter” in his way, adding to the weight on his shoulders. Nevertheless, after three rounds, he secured victory via unanimous decision.
“I’m really grateful to my crew, my cornermen. Everything went according to plan. Sakuraba is really tough, strong, but I was in really good shape and he wore out in the end,” said Ralek in analysis at the post-event press conference.
“He’s good on the ground, but not like my brothers. My training partners got me in great shape to win. He’s tough, has a solid game, so can train with us,” added the Gracie.
At one point Sakuraba caused some discomfort with his traditional kimura lock, which he has used on Renzo and Royler in the past.
“It seemed like he was close (to finishing), but he wasn’t. I felt comfortable,” said the fighter, who said he countered the move just right. Nevertheless, even in victory, Ralek admits that he faced a great opponent, despite Sakuraba’s advanced age.
“He threw some good body shots. I’ve taken some damage around the eye; he hits hard”
The Jiu-Jitsu black belt had nothing but good things to say about the Dream promotion, and remarked that in the future he may drop weight to fight in the division under his, the 88 kg weight class.
“It was a great show and everything went smoothly. I enjoyed it a lot. I’ll probably fight at middleweight in the future,” he said in finishing.