For many, the Gracie name is synonymous with fighting, and for good reason.
The eminent Brazilian family created and popularized Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, adapting the Japanese version of the grappling art to make it more effective in certain situations.
Legends like Royce (UFC 1, UFC 2, UFC 4 tournament winner), Rickson (famed, undefeated Vale Tudo legend), Renzo (a longtime UFC and PRIDE veteran), Roger (former ONE Championship light heavyweight champion), and others have already made their names in the realm of mixed martial arts. Now, it’s Kron’s turn.
On Sunday, February 17, during UFC on ESPN 1, Kron Gracie will be the first of the Gracie family to fight in the UFC since Roger Gracie last did so in 2013. Before he does, get to know the undefeated Brazilian.
Kron Gracie’s jiu-jitsu dominance
Kron Gracie, 30, is the son of the aforementioned Rickson Gracie and the grandson of the late, great Hélio Gracie.
Gracie was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where he quickly began training in jiu-jitsu under the tutelage of his father. At the age of 19, after a dazzling career in the colored belts, Rickson awarded Kron with his black belt.
Gracie’s career before black belt included two IBJJF World Championships (2006, purple; 2007, brown), three IBJJF Pan American Championships (2005, blue; 2006, purple; 2007 and 2008, brown), as well as a staggering 51-match submission streak.
As a black belt, Gracie’s career continued its upward trajectory. Gracie won the IBJJF European Open and placed second at the IBJJF Pan American Championships in 2009, a year in which he also made his ADCC debut.
2011 and 2012 saw him take silver at the IBJJF World Championships, bronze in his weight division and at absolute at the IBJJF Pan American Championships, and become a World Jiu-Jitsu Expo Superfight champion.
But it was 2013, Gracie’s last year of active jiu-jitsu competition, in which Gracie captured his most iconic accolade: an ADCC gold medal.
Gracie, riding a five-match winning streak with wins over the likes of Victor Estima and Shinya Aoki, entered the prestigious Abu Dhabi Combat Club Submission Wrestling Championships (ADCC) for the third time in his career. Gracie had previously competed in 2009 and 2011 but was defeated both times by Marcelo Garcia, arguably the sport’s greatest ever competitor.
In 2013, however, things would finally go Gracie’s way.
Gracie submitted Andy Wang in the tournament’s first round with a rear-naked choke, advancing to face jiu-jitsu star, Garry Tonon. Gracie again found success with the rear-naked choke, submitting the Renzo Gracie black belt and advancing to the semi-finals.
There, he faced 2017 ADCC champion, JT Torres, whom he also submitted, this time via armbar. In the finals, Gracie submitted three-time IBJJF World champion, Otavio Sousa, with a guillotine to become the 2013 ADCC champion.
With arguably the sport’s most impressive no-gi achievement, an ADCC gold medal, under his belt, Gracie turned to mixed martial arts.
Kron Gracie’s mixed martial arts career
Interestingly, Gracie appeared in the 2010 video game, EA Sports MMA, despite not having an MMA fight on his record until 2014.
While Gracie’s inclusion in EA Sports MMA might have been four years premature, Gracie has been able to make up for lost time.
Turning pro in 2014, Gracie debuted at Real 1, a martial arts event in Tokyo, Japan, where he scored an armbar win in just over a minute.
Following his impressive, lightning-quick performance, Gracie signed with Japan’s largest martial arts organization, RIZIN Fighting Federation.
Gracie continued his winning ways in his RIZIN debut, submitting Erson Yamamoto, nephew to the legendary Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto and son to women’s wrestling star Miyuu Yamamoto, with a triangle choke late in the first round.
From there, Gracie experienced a major leap in the experience of his opponents.
He next faced HERO’S and DREAM legend, Hideo Tokoro, in September of 2016. Tokoro was cornered by the legendary Kazushi Sakuraba, so a natural storyline emerged, as Rickson cornered Gracie. Almost ten minutes into the first round, Gracie secured a rear-naked choke, dispatching of his toughest test to date with relative ease.
After Tokoro, Gracie faced another Japanese legend in Shooto, DREAM, PRIDE, and UFC veteran Tatsuya Kawajiri. Gracie submitted Kawajiri via rear-naked choke in the second round, thoroughly dominating on the mat.
That was on December 31, 2016. Gracie has yet to fight since but has recently signed with the UFC.
Gracie will make his UFC debut on the UFC on ESPN 1: Velasquez vs. Ngannou card, which airs on February 17, against the ever-exciting Alex Caceres (14-11). The bout was originally set to take place on the canceled UFC 233 event but was moved to the promotion’s ESPN debut after the event fizzled.
Caceres, 30, will likely be Gracie’s toughest opponent yet. The rangy striker has had a streaky career, at times failing to put everything together, but remains a dangerous test for anyone.
Caceres is coming off of a unanimous decision win against Mexican prospect Martín Bravo and will look to continue his winning ways against Gracie.
However, should Gracie get the fight to the ground – something he has done in each of his fights to date – the match is decisively in his favor.