Neiman Gracie plans to shine on a grand stage in the city that never sleeps.
Gracie is scheduled to compete in the second round of the Bellator Welterweight World Grand Prix. He’s set to meet the winner of Rory MacDonald vs. Jon Fitch, which is a title bout. If all goes according to plan, then Gracie will collide with either MacDonald or Fitch on June 14 at Bellator 222.
Neiman Gracie Speaks With MMA News Ahead Of Bellator 222
Gracie talked to MMA News following the Bellator 222 press conference. He expressed his excitement over returning to Madison Square Garden:
“Yeah, it’s gonna be awesome. This is my hometown. My gym is one block away from MSG, so it’s gonna be awesome. I can’t wait man to fight here again, fight for the belt and take the belt home with me.”
Gracie competed on the Bellator NYC card back in June 2017, submitting Dave Marfone. Obviously the stakes are higher, but Gracie is still playing it cool:
“Definitely. It’s a much bigger fight, this is the title fight. It’s a bigger fight, but in my mind it’s just another fight. I’m ready to win and I’m ready to take the belt and the title back to my family.”
When June 14 hits, Gracie will be fresh barring any injuries in training camp as he hasn’t fought since Dec. 2018. The winner of MacDonald vs. Fitch will have a quick turnaround. Gracie talked about how he’d react if the winner of MacDonald vs. Fitch wasn’t ready for a June bout:
“I just heard Scott [Coker] saying that maybe if something happens, someone gets hurt we can take some time and do it on another show. For me it would suck because I really wanna fight here at ‘The Garden,’ but if I have to wait a couple more months to fight whoever wins again, that’s okay. I’ll wait and I’ll fight him. Like I said before, I don’t want to fight nobody that is not 100 percent. I want the best fighter to come at me and I’ll be ready man.”
Despite being scheduled for a title bout, Gracie will not headline Bellator 222. That honor goes to Chael Sonnen and Lyoto Machida. The welterweight title contender said he isn’t bothered by it:
“For me it’s fine. I understand those guys are legends of the sport. Their names call a lot of people to come watch, so for me it’s fine. I don’t really care about that.”
As far as who he believes will win the April 27 showdown between MacDonald and Fitch, Gracie feels it’s a tossup:
“Well everybody thinks that MacDonald is the favorite and I think he is the favorite, but like I always tell people, Fitch is not a guy that we can sleep on. He can beat anyone in the world, especially with his game plan. Of course I think that Rory is the favorite, but I really don’t know what’s gonna happen.”