Comeback “Gracie Style”: Exclusive interview with Daniel Gracie

Fourth Degree Black Belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Daniel Gracie will make his long-promised return to Mixed Martial Arts on November 9th in Tel Aviv, Israel. Fighting for the last time in November of 2006, Daniel Gracie holds a Mixed Martial Arts record of 4-2, finishing 3 of his fights via Submission. Daniel Gracie is a cousin of Renzo Gracie, Ralph Gracie and Ryan Gracie, currently teaching at Renzo Gracie BJJ Academy in Stamford, Connecticut.

You can follow Daniel Gracie through his website, Twitter and Facebook.

Here’s a list of Daniel Gracie’s grappling career achievements:


2 Time Mundial Champion (’96, ’98)

3rd Place in 2005

1st Place in 2003

5 Time Brasilian Champion (’94, ’95, ’96, ’98, ’01)

8 Time City Champion
5 Time State Champion

With less than one months to his fight against Martin Wojcik at IFC: Genesis, here’s what Daniel Gracie had to share in an exclusive interview for the community. So, all the BJJ enthusiasts out there, I hope you’ll enjoy this one:

Hey Daniel, it’s a pleasure having you for an interview. How are you doing these days?
Oh perfect. I’m in a great shape and ready to fight.

Great. So you are traveling to Israel for a fight on November 9th. It will be four years after your last fight, do you feel like there’s no ring-rust”?
I don’t think it will be a problem. Yes, I did not fight for a quite long time, but I’ve been training real hard during these four years. I never stopped to train. It’s not like my body is not ready, I feel in a great shape.

You’re fighting Martin Wojcik in that event. What do you know about your opponent?
I think that he’s a very tough opponent. He has a very good kicks and heavy punches. And in my opinion he’s not that bad on the ground. Actually all his losses were via submission, but I think that when you are submitted, you are always getting better. So I’m not expecting it to be easy on the ground. I don’t want to get easy fights.

But still, you will try to get this fight to the ground?

I’m training in everything, and ready to do everything. I’m not that kind of fighter who trains only on a few things. Everything I train I like to use. I’m training to use a lot of wrestling. When the fight goes to the ground – I’ll surely feel at home. But if it will not go to the ground, I’ll still feel comfortable. All these years I trained hard to be good in every aspect of the game.

Your fight in Israel is going to be at 205?

Yes. My last fight was also at 205. But I did not know how to cut weight, and felt really weak during the fight.  I’m between 230, 225, so it’s an easy transition for me to go down to 205. I’m feeling strong, fast… everything is good for me right now.

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And the fight is in Israel…
Yeah, we are going to have a lot of good fighters there. Sokoudjou, Frank Trigg, Ricco Rodriguez, Charles Bennett, Jeff Monson and many others. It’s going to be a good show, and the most important thing is that its going to spread the word about MMA. It’s good to have space for everyone to fight. I don’t want to see people struggling to find a place to fight. We have a bunch of guys in Brazil. They are so good, but they don’t have a chance to leave the country. So shows like this are good for MMA.

So, after such a long time out, you are preparing to use this fight to make a statement that you’re back in MMA?
Look, I can’t predict a result of the fight. Of course I’ll give my best for victory. But one thing is for sure: I’m back. And when I say I’m back, I mean it. If my body allows me, I would like to fight 10 times a year.

You’re currently instructing in Renzo Gracie’s BJJ Academy in Connecticut, right?

Actually, I’m running the Academy. I’m the main teacher in the Academy. It’s Renzo’s School here in Connecticut. Me, my wife and my kids moved here. It’s very good, because I’m living very near. It’s perfect for me.

Sorry, but I just want to be precise. How old are you, because I couldn’t find this information on the internet?
I’m feeling like a kid, but I’m 38 (laughing).

Great, Renzo Gracie also always says that he feels like a kid. I think it something that runs in the family?
Exactly. And I look at the things like Renzo. I don’t want to waste my time thinking that I’m too old doing this. Right now I feel better than when I was younger. So it’s definitely a time for a comeback. I’m feeling so good right now, so I don’t want miss this opportunity. I’m excited to fight, I’m in shape and everything is good to get back. And you know, for me it’s actually worse to watch the fight from the outside, than be in it. I feel more comfortable fighting, than watching fights.

And also for you as a teacher, it’s a good way have new experiences you can later share with your students.
Definitely. Every time I learn a lot, and I try to pass everything, every experience I have to my students. Every fight you learn something and take something from a fight, and I’m not keeping it for myself. Also teaching. You learn a lot from teaching. All these years I’ve been teaching a lot, and it improved my game greatly.

Speaking about MMA, what do you want to achieve? Do you want to fight for the UFC or Strikeforce?
To tell you the truth, I prefer to fight in the big shows. That’s the dream of every fighter, because of the exposure. People see you more at the big shows. I have a huge love for fighting. Of Course I want to fight at big shows, just to show people my work. I think that if I get some good results, I will have some people inviting me for the big shows. I want to end my career as a champion at the big show.

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Speaking about big shows, some Gracie family representatives got pretty good results lately. Ralek Gracie defeated Sakuraba and Roger Gracie made a successful debut for Strikeforce. What do you think about them?
You know, people think that the family stopped with some great fighters. Everyone in the Gracie family is training MMA. Some of them train ‘coz they like it, and some of them train to fight. And we’ll always gonna have a Gracie representing our family. When I saw Ralek’s fight against Sakuraba… I knew he’s a warrior, and he defeated Sakuraba in all aspects. One thing is for sure, it’s always gonna be a war to beat a Gracie, it’s never an easy fight.

Daniel, is there any rivalry between the Gracie family members, when it comes to competition?

Not in between the Gracies, but in between the Gracie Schools. Some students have a competition between them, but not in between the family. In between the family it doesn’t exist.

And I want to ask you a question… it’s a tough one, but still a hot topic in MMA. If you were offered a fight against other Gracie family member, would you take it?
Never! (laughing) Are you kidding me? I would never fight a Gracie. They can offer me any money in the world… Never.

Fabricio Werdum submitted Fedor Emelianenko, who’s himself is one of the top grapplers in the world. What do you think about this victory, and its impact on BJJ?
You know, everyone was shocked that Fabricio submitted Fedor, but I’ll tell you this: Every Jiu-Jitsu guy all over the world wasn’t shocked with this submission. Werdum is a top BJJ guy. So it was no surprise that he finished Fedor. We know his skills and how good he is, but again, you can’t take everything from Fedor just because of one fight. He’s still the same. He got caught, Werdum is a very good fighter, but that’s Jiu-Jitsu man… Jiu-Jitsu can surprise everybody. You saw how Anderson Silva finished his fight against Chael Sonnen. Jiu-Jitsu is always going to be there. If anyone wants to prove the opposite, be the first in the line. You can’t win any decent competition in MMA without knowing BJJ.

Speaking about Chael Sonnen, were you offended when he compared a Black Belt from the Nogueira brothers to a toy in McDonald’s Happy Meal?

Let me tell you one thing. If you have a mouth, you can say whatever you want. But to prove it is another thing.  We all know the level of Nogueira’s BJJ, and he underestimated it. You saw how the fight ended: he tapped out. So… you know what. Payback is a bitch. He talked so much, and you saw what happened. I would be embarrassed if I had to talk so much, and the tap out in the fight. That’s why I don’t like to talk, because sometimes it’s gonna turn against you.

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Exactly. And also the steroid story…
Yes, he should be more embarrassed after that (laughing). If I was him, I would shut up and let people forget about me.

As you said, if someone wants be successful in MMA, he has to learn BJJ. But today we see that Wrestling is dominating the sport. What do you think about that?
Every year MMA evolves a lot. So every Martial Art had their turn in MMA. Of course Jiu-Jitsu was the first one, then there were some Wrestling guys who avoided the Jiu-Jitsu guys. Then the Muay Thai guys came in and knocked out the Wrestlers. So, on that time you could defend your Martial Art. Because it was Martial Art against Martial Art. But today the game is complete. You have to be perfect in every aspect of the game. The game totally changed, the fighters want to be more well-rounded. The game is evolving, and if you are not following the evolution, you are getting behind.

As a legendary mentor and Mixed Martial Artist, what will be your first advice for a teenager who wants to start doing MMA?

First of all, get a strong background in something. If you’re starting right now and you never did martial arts before, choose one good martial art to be good at. Don’t train just MMA, ‘coz you are not going to learn enough of anything. MMA is not a martial art, it’s a mix of everything. I will say that the best one is Jiu-Jitsu, but hey, I’m a Jiu-Jitsu guy… so I’m a little biased.  But yes, choose one background to be good at.

Would you like to thank anyone or pass any message to your fans at
First of all, I would like to thank Renzo for everything he did for me. He’s my mentor and my teacher. I would like to thank Mark DellaGrotte… he really helped me with my striking at Team Sityodtong. I would like also to thank Michael Garretty from Revel Entertainment. He really helped me a lot.

And to the fans, always cheer for the Gracie family. We always gonna have good fighters up coming and showing at the events. Thanks for the support you guys are giving to the Gracie family. It’s really what helps us to move forward. Always cheer for a Gracie.