Rodrigo Gracie: Ready for Rumble on the Rock
Interview by Benny Henderson Jr (November 7, 2004)
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Rodrigo Gracie is ready to carry on the Gracie family tradition come
November 20, when he is set to face B.J. Penn on the K-1 “Rumble on
the Rock” card, a show where he will go for the sixth straight win of his
career at the Neil S. Blaisdell Center in Honolulu, Hawaii.
And while the 29-year-old Brazilian looks to keep his MMA record
spotless as he faces Penn (who has already two big wins over Matt
Hughes and Duane Ludwig this year alone), Rodrigo, who won his first
Jiu-Jitsu fight at the tender age of seven, has the fighting pedigree of
the Gracie family - whose tradition is winning. It’s that tradition that
Rodrigo takes to heart and he is holding it up quite well.
From winning his debut back in 2000 when he competed in the
Vengeance at the Vanderbilt 10 against Kyle DeMello - defeating his
opponent in just thirty-four seconds with a submission side chokehold
- until his last bout, which was in February of this year and
undoubtedly his biggest win to date when he won a unanimous
decision over veteran fighter Hayato Sakurai in PRIDE Bushido 2,
Rodrigo brings honor to his family name.
He is a fun loving, dedicated family man who evolves into a one man
wrecking machine when he steps into the ring, and come the 20th of
this month Gracie knows that while B.J. Penn is a tough worthy
opponent, he looks to add to his own legacy with a win. Max Fighting
caught up with the undefeated fighter and got his thoughts on his
upcoming bout with B.J. Penn along with his thoughts on his future and
his deep-rooted Gracie family name.
Benny Henderson Jr. – You’re facing B.J. Penn on November 20th on the
main event of the “Rumble on the Rock 6”. Can you give us your
thoughts on your opponent B.J. Penn and the event?
Rodrigo Gracie - BJ is a very tough opponent. He has proven to be
dangerous in two weight classes already and now he is moving up to
185, so I am not taking him lightly. He has good standup, and ground
game and is very aggressive so it’s going to be a tough fight. As for
the event, I know that ROTR is being co promoted by K-1 network, the
world’s largest fighting organization, which is who I have my contract
with, so they are already bringing me and Royler to the table, so you
know the show is going big time already. It’s going to be a great show.
BH - Do you see anything in Penn’s arsenal that concerns you or maybe
something you can use against him?
RG - Well, you know when you face a tough fighter everything concerns
you. But you train hard for it, and see what happens. As for his
weaknesses, I will tell you after the fight.
BH - You are traveling to Penn’s home state; do you see the hometown
crowd playing a part in this battle in any kind of way?
RG - Man, I am from Brazil, so no matter where I fight, it’s not going to
be my home crowd. No, it does not concern me at all, because I am
used to fighting in Japan, being judged by Japanese judges, in front of
Japanese fans, fighting Japanese fighters. So this time, I am going to
Hawaii, to fight in BJ Penn’s home, with Hawaiian judges and a room
full of BJ fans; it’s nothing new to me. I will have my family there,
Crosley is coming with me to the fight, Royce will be there, Royler is
also fighting, and Renzo will come if his schedule permits. I will also
have my wife and some students there, and also I will have all my fans
all over the world following the action on the internet and TV in Hawaii
and Japan, so I will have all the support that I need.
BH - What is your training regimen?
RG - I train some standup and cardio, little bit weights with Martin
Rooney, and a lot of Jiu-Jitsu with Matt Serra and Crosley Gracie. I spar
with my students, as well as Matt and Crosley. I have been talking to
Royce and Renzo about strategies of the fight, so I am doing a lot of
preparation for the fight.
BH - People must expect more out of you with carrying the Gracie
name; do you feel the Family name has been sort of a blessing and a
RG - It’s a blessing for sure. I am a part of tradition that started 80
years ago with Gracies that came before me, and while that is a lot to
carry on your shoulders, it’s also very motivating. Another thing is that
with all these fighters in my family, its easy for me to tap into their
resources and get some ideas for training and fight strategy.
BH - I know you have had a short career, but do you have a memorable
fight or moment so far?
RG - Every fight is memorable, every time I step in the ring it’s a
product of a lot of training and hard work, so trust me I remember all
of it. (Laughs)
BH - How would you define yourself as a fighter?
RG - Just like that, a fighter. I train hard, and I give it all I have, the rest
happens in the ring.
BH -Your keys to victory against B.J. Penn?
RG - They key is locked away safe, I will let you know after the fight.
BH - Not trying to get you to look too far into the future, but is there a
particular fighter you would like to face after Penn?
RG - My manager and K-1 will make that determination. I know that
my manager is trying to get me a fight with Genki Sudo for the K-1
Dynamite show on New Year’s Eve, if I do not get injured in this
upcoming fight. I want to fight him, and Sakuraba is another one that I
want to fight, but he is fighting for Pride, so I am not sure that its
possible to make that fight happen. Otherwise, whoever K-1 thinks is
good for me, and the fans, I am ready.
BH - Is there anything you would like to add to this interview or
address anything to the fans?
RG - I want to thank all the fans that have shown me and continue to
show me support. Their efforts are an overwhelming inspiration to me.
I want to thank the MMA media for covering the events and giving
fighters exposure, and an opportunity to speak to the fans and express
their views. I want to thank my family and my wife Laura and my kids
for their support in my training and the sacrifices that they have made
to let me know what I love. I want to thank my training partners and
coaches, Martin Rooney, Matt Serra, Crosley Gracie and others for all
the hard work that they put into me, and training with me. I want to
thank Royce and Renzo Gracie for being my mentors and advisers,
their wisdom is irreplaceable. I want to thank my father for teaching
me Jiu-Jitsu, and I want to thank all the Gracie Fighters that have come
before me for paving the way for us to do what we do today. Thank you