Roger Gracie after being defeated by Muhammad Lawal at Strikeforce: Barnett vs. Kharitonov. Photo by Esther Lin of MMA Fighting.
In an interview with MMA Fighting's Ariel Helwani, Ed Soares has confirmed that Roger Gracie is signing with Black House management and more importantly, he is dropping to the 185 pound Middleweight Division.
This is not the most shocking news as it has been rumored Gracie had been mulling a weight drop for some time and he has reportedly being working members of Black House, including UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva on Tatame.com a few months ago.
Roger's run at Light Heavyweight sparked some hope for the resurgence of the Gracie family legend, but his biggest wins were over an aged Kevin Randleman and Trevor Prangley. In his most recent fight with Muhammed Lawal, Gracie was knocked out within the first round.
For Gracie, this move makes a great deal of sense, for while he is long and tall, he lacks the heft and mass that the majority of elite Light Heavyweights enjoy. It is likely in any major fight Gracie entered at 205 lbs he would have been at a serious strength and size disadvantage. Furthermore, the top of the Strikeforce Light Heavyweight division is populated by strong wrestlers, who would likely be able to stop the Brazilian's attempts to take him down and win the striking battle decisively, as Lawal did.
At Middleweight, Gracie will be on the tallest fighters in the division at 6'4" and be on more equal footing in terms of physical strength. Throw in that the talent pool is a bit shallower at Middleweight and Gracie's grappling abilities could make him a real contender at that weight.
As of right now, Gracie is still in Strikeforce which is searching for new Middleweight talent to challenge current champion Luke Rockhold after the likely Tim Kennedy title shot. The arrival of Gracie opens up the possibility of a rematch of sorts with Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza, one of the handful of men to beat Gracie in a Brazilian jiu jitsu match. The match at the 2004 Mundials was a controversial one though, as Gracie broke Jacare's arm in the match only to see Jacare, who was up on points, stall out the rest of the time limit to claim the "win". It is a fight that could be an excellent and exciting title eliminator for a promotion looking for any way to generate excitement amongst a fan base that may have written certain divisions of Strikeforce off as dead.