If you have been a lifelong fan of mixed martial arts, you know what the name "Gracie" means. You can make an argument that if it wasn't for the Gracie family, mixed martial arts wouldn't be around today.
The Gracies have fallen off in the last decade. Royce tried make a return to the UFC in 2006 and lost to then-welterweight champion Matt Hughes. In 2010, Renzo then made his UFC debut looking to avenge Royces' loss to Hughes, but lost to him as well.
The Gracies, though, are starting to make a little noise again with Igor and Rolles fighting in ONE FC, Roger in Strikeforce and Daniel in Bellator. Now another Gracie is looking to make a splash. Gregor Gracie will be fighting tonight as he squares off against Tyson Steele in the inaugural event for The World Series of Fighting.
World Series of Fighting 1 will be taking place from PH Live at Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino. The Gracie vs. Steele fight is a part of the main card, which you can watch on the NBC Sports Network starting at 10:30 p.m. ET.
The 25-year-old Gracie would always watch old tapes of his family members fighting, but was met with resistance by his mother. Gracie knew, though, that MMA was meant for him.
"I always wanted to get into MMA since I was a little kid," Gracie told Bleacher Report. "I remember watching tapes of Royce, Renzo and all of my family members. I loved watching them and always knew I was going to fight. There was a point I even wanted to quit school just to train. My mother wouldn't let me do that though."
Gracie, whose last three fights have gone under the ONE FC promotion, originally had a contract with World Series of Fighting and is glad to be fighting for the promotion for a variety of reasons.
"I had a contract with them (World Series) before and then I went to One FC," Gracie stated. "Then about an hour after my last fight in August, my manager called and said, 'Hey you want to fight?' and I'm like, 'Yeah, for sure.' He said 'OK, you're fighting November 3,' and I said 'OK.'
"I already knew these guys. They came to New York and I met with them. Ray Sefo is a great guy and was always been a big fan of him when he fought in K-1. We spoke and he said in his organization, the fighters are always going to come first and that's one of the biggest reasons I wanted to sign with them. That's the way they used to do it in Japan.
"I think that's the way to go. The fighters are the show, not the other way around."
Gracie, who has a record of 7-2, will be going into his third fight in a little more than four months. He loves fighting often and feels it won't be a detriment tonight against Steele. As long as he's healthy, he wants to fight.
"I love fighting," Gracie stated. "It's something I enjoy, being in the ring or the cage. Sometimes the only thing that holds you back is if you have an injury in training camp or if you are really hurt after your fight. But after every fight, I feel good and don't have any injuries.
"It's not like I planned to fight three times in four months. After my first loss (to Adam Shahir Kayoom at a One FC show in June), I went straight to the ONE FC owner and said, 'Put me on the next show, I want to fight again.'
"So I went and fought again and as soon as the fight was over, my manager called and wanted me fight on November 3. I want to stay busy and fight."
A lot of the new MMA fans don't know the Gracie name and questions have been raised regarding if the Gracies can once again make their mark in the sport. Gregor feels it can happen with the influx of a younger Gracie clan.
"Of course it can return and for us to make our mark," Gracie stated. "There was a point when Pride was finishing up that we didn't have too many guys fighting here in the United States. We went a little while without any of us representing the sport, but that doesn't mean we stopped. We have been here the whole time.
"We have a lot of guys now. We have myself, my two brothers Igor and Rolles, Roger, Renzo, my cousin Neiman will be making his pro debut in December and Daniel fights in Bellator. We are still here."
The question among the MMA community is if even with the new influx of Gracies in the sport, can they live up to the standard set by family members before them? Gregor says that's why he's here and they will get the Gracie name back to where it used to be.
"That's what I'm here for," Gracie said. "I'm going to fight my best to do that and to keep that name on top. My family feels the same way I do. Roger is doing a phenomenal job in Strikeforce. My brothers and I have been fighting in Asia and now I'm here with World Series of Fighting. We have worked very hard for this and we want to make sure we keep it that way."
Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained firsthand.
You can follow me on Twitter @fightclubchi.