Highly decorated Jiu-Jitsu champion Roger Gracie, 30, awaits Anderson Silva.
Hold your horses, it’s just that the two will now be training partners, as Roger’s over at Black House team headquarters in Compton, Los Angeles, with bated breath to see his training gain reinforcement from the champion—as well as from Fabricio Werdum, today’s birthday boy Wanderlei Silva, Coach Rafael Cordeiro, and other stars who were in Brazil.
Roger Gracie presently weighs 95kg, and he needs to hit the 84kg mark for his sixth career MMA fight, facing Keith Jardine on the coming 14th of July in Portland, Oregon at Strikeforce – Rockhold vs. Kennedy. Shedding those 11 kilos (24 lbs) is the easy part of his mission, though, according to Roger himself.
Coming off a knockout at the hands of King Mo, the Gracie has been training five hours a day with Lyoto Machida. All to fix just one of the mistakes he made: having held his left hand too low and his chin too high. To iron out his shortcomings he’s learned to walk in the ring better, as well as a few other little secrets.
Hopping into his car to go get a bite to eat, Roger had a chat with GRACIEMAG.com, addressing where he went wrong and right and Jiu-Jitsu for MMA, as well as the IBJJ Pro coming up in December. When will Roger be back competing in the gi? Find out hereunder.
How do you plan to lose 11 kilos by the 14th?
I’ve done it before and it isn’t a concern. What I’ll do is lose one or two kilos this week. A week from the fight I’ll dehydrate and lose nine, ten kilos.
This blend of karate and Jiu-Jitsu must be good. What’s it been like parrying strikes from Lyoto Machida?
Training with him has been great for me. He hops around like popcorn; it’s impressive (laughs). Besides being a complete fighter and really dedicated, Lyoto is one of the best, if not the best, in the UFC these days when it comes to how he moves on his feet. His unusual style and speed getting in and out with strikes has made me a lot keener on my feet. His feint and ability to come out of the blue with strikes surprises everyone. It’s been a great learning experience. Not to mention his wrestling, which is great. If I can get him down, I can get anyone down.
How has training at Black House in California been?
Here there are some really tough guys, like Kevin Casey, a Rickson Gracie student who’s really good on the ground. We work on everything, in all kinds of ways. There are times when all we do is work on takedowns, others when it’s all striking, others that are just on the ground. But there’s also striking to get the takedown, takedowns and grappling on the ground, etc. If you count the hours, I’ve done a lot less Jiu-Jitsu and more working on takedowns. But we’re getting me ready for any situation. The best part is that Lyoto’s going to have a fight in the UFC too, three weeks after my fight, against Ryan Bader. Training is being headed up by Pedro Munhoz while Rafael Cordeiro is in Brazil, and then there’s Adriano Camolesi, a Jiu-Jitsu black belt who’s got great hands.
You’d been training with Pedro Rizzo’s folks at Refinaria de Manguinhos, in Rio. What do you like most about those training sessions?
The structure there is great. But the best part is that they’re intelligent about training, aren’t trying to tear your head off, have nothing to prove. Obviously your opponent comes after you, trains hard. But it’s not that throwdown the whole time, where you run a risk of getting hurt. In professional MMA these days you can’t go doing things haphazardly. The days of training for MMA by going toe to toe with construction workers are long gone.
You’re coming off a knockout in your last fight. What further lessons do you hope to learn by training with Lyoto Machida, or Anderson Silva, who should show up there some day?
Well, Anderson didn’t come down; he went straight to Las Vegas. That was a shame. It would be great to train with him too. We haven’t trained together yet, but I think it would be awesome. I feel I learned a lot from the knockout. If you’re smart, you’re really going to learn a lot from defeat. And the first thing I learned was that I wasn’t as good on my feet as I thought I was (laughs).
What was your biggest mistake against King Mo?
I made a common mistake, one a lot of top Jiu-Jitsu guys make. We start training a lot on our feet and automatically get better. That results in a somewhat dangerous self-confidence, because standing you’re at most as good as the others, never better. So what I realize now is that I can’t let the idea of standing and trading take over. Never.
Have you looked at the tape of your opponent, Keith Jardine?
Yes. He’s a dangerous fighter but one who doesn’t switch up his style much. So I’m more concerned with myself right now.
Did you see the post on the GRACIEMAG.com website on the IBJJ Pro, the new tournament paying out cash prizes in California this December?
I think it’s great. It’ll draw some good ratings. The best will be there. But I think I’ll watch this first one from the sidelines, since I want to fight again before the end of the year. What I’m really bugged about is the Worlds. I want to be at the one in 2013 for sure. I’ve sat out two years now. There’s a new crop of competitors in there, and I want to get back in there.