A last name can carry a ton of weight, especially when it comes to mixed martial arts and the name Gracie.
But UFC featherweight Kron Gracie doesn’t seem to be letting that pressure get to him. He acknowledges it and lets it fuel him.
“I represent a lot more than myself. I represent jiu-jitsu, I represent my family, I represent my dad (Rickson Gracie), I represent Nick and Nate (Diaz),” Gracie said. “So I’m just very grateful to be in this situation and it’s up to God now.”
In his UFC debut in February, Gracie represented those groups well, securing a submission victory over Alex Caceres in under three minutes. He believes that test and all of the adversity that he’s faced has prepared him for UFC Tampa and a co-main event bout against Cub Swanson.
“I’m very grateful, first of all. I’m very grateful to be in this position to have let all my training and my skills get to this point,” Gracie said. “But it’s not like a surprise to me and it’s not nothing new.”
When Gracie was fighting in Japan back in 2016, he was the main event and that’s because of his skill set, not just his name. He believes both his talent and his name have helped make him someone that fight fans want to watch.
And they will get that chance on Saturday when he goes to battle with Swanson.
“This is a big fight no matter which way you put it,” Gracie said. “For both of us. Cub’s lost his last few fights, but they were all to very tough opponents so it’s not like he’s losing to people that no one knows. All the guys that he’s lost to were real big names so I don’t look at it the same way.”
Swanson’s recent skid and notoriety, combined with Gracie’s rise and name recognition, make this an ideal matchup for both fighters and for the fans.
“I also only have five fights. All my fights went really well so this fight makes a lot sense,” Gracie said. “We both have a big name and we both are going to make a big fight so I think this is going to be very good.”
While there is a significant experience gap between the two featherweights, Gracie isn’t looking at the numbers as disadvantages, but as valuable opportunities.
“I think ultimately the fight experience is something to be valued,” Gracie said. “It’s different from the training experience, it’s different from all the jiu-jitsu experience, so I’m looking to gain as much experience as possible and I’m also looking to do the best performance I can.”
Gracie’s understanding of the fight game, and his approach to it, have helped him continue to develop as a martial artist. And he firmly believes that his showdown with Swanson will be a catalyst to help him elevate to the next level.
“I think we need good fighters to bring the best out of us,” Gracie said. ”And that’s what we’re having right now.”
Make sure you watch Gracie take on Swanson in the co-main event of UFC Tampa, live on ESPN+ at 8pm/5pm ETPT. If you don’t have ESPN+ sign-up here.