Photo by Esther Lin for Showtime Sports.
As an MMA fighter he's largely an unproven commodity, but he's making the right moves by training with Georges St. Pierre in advance of his bout against Trevor Prangley at Strikeforce: Diaz vs Cyborg.
GSP talks to Sherdog about training with Gracie:
Last year, UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre traveled to London to see a friend. He heard that the accomplished Gracie ran an academy in the city, so he paid a visit.
"I got my ass kicked pretty bad," St. Pierre remembers. "I had to stay, and it started from there."
A heady exchange of knowledge commenced, and a partnership was formed. Gracie helped St. Pierre train for his 2010 fights, and St. Pierre traveled to London this month to help Gracie prepare for his bout against Trevor Prangley this Saturday at Strikeforce "Diaz vs. Cyborg" in San Jose, Calif.
"[Roger] is very good at bringing the fight where he wants it -- on the floor," St. Pierre says. "He's a lot better than people think. He's not only a jiu-jitsu guy. Roger, he's a true mixed martial artist."
Gracie is also training boxing with Clay O'Shea and picked up some pointers from boxing great Joe Calzaghe when his son came to the same gym as Roger to train.
The thing about Roger Gracie is he's so good at jiu jitsu that he only has to get decent at the other aspects of the game to be a real force. The gulf between world champion BJJ players and BJJ black belts is often discussed. Gracie is the rare case where we can discuss the gulf between the best BJJ player ever and your average world champion.
Because he's so dangerous on the ground he will have a much easier time making opponents worry about his striking and wrestling. As long as a fighter is in the cage with Roger Gracie there will be a voice in his head shouting "do NOT go to the ground with this guy". That limits a fighter's options seriously. And if Roger can establish himself as a striking threat, that only makes it easier for him to work for take downs.
And if Roger establishes himself as a threat to get the take down, that only makes landing strikes that much easier.
Gracie's progress in MMA has been slow but I'm excited to see him take another step against Trevor Prangley on Saturday. Prangley is a man not to be taken lightly as Keith Jardine learned recently. Prangley is also a true middleweight who'll be giving up a lot of reach to Gracie. He's also in his late 30's. He's a perfect opponent to test Roger and the thing about stern tests is sometimes you fail them.