'Invincible' Gracie ready for 'perfect' Pasternak title clash

Roger Gracie posing with the ONE Championship belt. He will fight Poland's Michal Pasternak for the light-heavy- weight title on Friday at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
Roger Gracie posing with the ONE Championship belt. He will fight Poland's Michal Pasternak for the light-heavy- weight title on Friday at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.PHOTO: ALICIA CHAN FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

He is the grandson of Carlos Gracie, who is credited with being one of the founders of Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ).

And since the day he was born, much has been expected of black-belt holder Roger Gracie, 34.

Friday's mixed martial arts (MMA) match-up against Poland's Michal Pasternak for the One Championship's inaugural light heavyweight title is no exception.

The duo - whose last fights were in 2014 - will do battle at the Ascent To Power event in front of a capacity 11,000 crowd at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, in the fight card's co-main event.

Gracie told The Straits Times at an event where timepiece G-Shock was unveiled as the official timekeeper for Ascent To Power yesterday: "People around me expect me to perform well because I'm a Gracie... they think my family is invincible so I will win for sure."

But the Brazilian (7-2) is not writing off Pasternak, who will be battling to defend his 11-0 win-loss record.

In a nod to the Pole's unbeaten record, Gracie said: "It makes him mentally more dangerous, because of the self-belief if you have never tasted defeat."

LIVING UP TO EXPECTATIONS

People around me expect me to perform well because I'm a Gracie... they think my family is invincible so I will win for sure.

ROGER GRACIE, Brazilian mixed martial arts fighter, on the pressure of having a famous surname.

He also acknowledged that being a BJJ practitioner who specialises in groundwork and grappling has its limitations as there is a lot of striking and standing in MMA.

The five-minute time limit for each round is also a disadvantage for him, he added, explaining that BJJ typically depends less on a technical knockout for the win, relying instead on wearing out an opponent.

"The Gracie style is not a short limit, it's a long distance. So I think that for us that is the major problem, fighting MMA."

However, the bout has been upgraded to a title match - comprising five rounds instead of the usual three and thus taking longer to complete - and that could work in the Brazilian's favour.

Nonetheless, Gracie remained upbeat, saying: "A fight is a fight. My preparation was for three rounds instead of five, but I've trained really hard, I'm ready for it.

"I'm just going to keep my cool, play my game and do my best out there. Us Gracies fight to the death."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 04, 2016, with the headline ''Invincible' Gracie ready for 'perfect' Pasternak title clash'. Print Edition | Subscribe