Rolles Gracie Would Gladly Face the Winner of Arlovski vs. Kyle Next
Too much, too soon.
Rolles Gracie heard those words hundreds of times after his lone fight in the UFC, where he lost to veteran fighter Joey Beltran back in 2010.
When he entered the fight, Gracie was 3-0 as a professional fighter with not much to fall back on besides his considerable jiu-jitsu skills. He was being marketed as the next great fighter to come from the legendary Gracie family.
Six minutes and thirty-one seconds later, Gracie lost his UFC debut and his reputation became that of one who was overrated and not UFC worthy.
To silence the doubters, Gracie doubled his efforts in the gym. He started working tirelessly on his wrestling and striking. Gracie added famed boxing coach Mark Henry to his team, the same coach that helped make UFC featherweight Frankie Edgar one of the best pugilists in the sport.
Since the fight with Beltran ended, Gracie has now gone 5-0 with five submission victories to his credit.
So, as he approaches his next bout this weekend at World Series of Fighting 5 against 15-5 fight veteran Derrick Mehmen, Gracie knows it's time to start moving back up to the top of the division and face the best heavyweights in the world.
"I definitely feel that I'm there with these guys," Gracie said. "My complete focus right now is on Derrick (Mehman) because I can't look past this fight. In order to belong in the deep end of the division, I need to beat him and he's not an easy opponent. I'm ready and I'm comfortable to face any of those guys."
Gracie has been working hard to get his striking near the same level as his ground game, and while the two will probably never be equal, he wants to be proficient in both.
Learning the stand up game won't take Gracie away from what he does best, however, because if he can get Mehmen or any opponent to the ground it's most likely lights out, game over.
"I've been asked this about my biggest keys to win, and my keys to win this fight and to be successful as a fighter is to be well rounded," Gracie said. "I feel that way at this point. I didn't get a chance to display my stand up in my last fight because I got the fight to the ground. If I get the chance in the first seconds, I'll do it again. But I'm still very comfortable standing up, I trained a lot of stand up for this fight. Let's see how things are going to play."
World Series of Fighting 5 will feature Gracie's bout on the televised portion of the card Saturday night with the show headlined by another pair of heavyweights—Andrei Arlovski and Mike Kyle—facing off in the main event.
Gracie has his eye on the headliners because he knows if he's victorious the questions will surely roll in about him facing the winner.
Some might say that's a big step up in competition for Gracie, but he's ready to prove he belongs with the top names in the division and there's no time like the present.
"I think it's very common, especially on a WSOF show that's coming up, it's common that people are going to look for the next opponent for whoever wins in the main event," Gracie said. "In this case, whoever puts on a good display in our fight is likely going to get that chance.
"Whoever wins is going to be on the right path to fight those guys with the big names. That would be awesome."
Damon Martin is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report and all quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.
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