The name Gracie has long been synonymous with grappling, and it was the hands of Neiman Gracie that impressed on Saturday at Bellator 266, with his uncle Renzo Gracie and Rafael Cordeiro in his corner.
In the card’s co-main event, Gracie (11-2) dispatched Mark Lemminger (12-4) with strikes at 1:27 of Round 1 to get himself the first TKO victory of his professional MMA career.
In a fight that many would assume would go to the ground, Neiman Gracie surprised many by keeping it on their feet for the entirety of the fight, well, the 1:27 that we got of it. Gracie was clearly the aggressor, with him forcing Lemminger backward for the majority of the fight. Gracie hit Lemminger with an overhand right that sent him backward, then a beautifully placed uppercut finding its mark signaled the end for Lemminger and put Gracie back in the win column.
After the fight Gracie made it known “I don’t need to take people down to win fights anymore, I can win fights anywhere. But if I take you down…oh boy.”
What’s Next for Neiman Gracie?
In the post-fight interview, Gracie was quick to make his thoughts known calling out three of his rivals. Starting with Michael Page, accusing “MVP” of avoiding a FIGHT, before moving on to talk about his most recent loss against Jason Jackson, who won via decision but where Gracie labeled it as a robbery. Finally, Gracie called for a fight with Yaroslav Amosov, stating that he is the worst style matchup for the current welterweight champ.
So let’s take a look at the three call-outs by Neiman Gracie.
Jason Jackson vs Neiman Gracie
This is the fight that makes the most sense to me. Jackson holds a recent win over Gracie, a win that Gracie is clearly looking to gain redemption from. Although it’s by no means the most ridiculously scored decision win in recent years, Gracie clearly saw issue with the decision.
Ranked 3 and 4 respectively in the Welterweight division and both fighters with no upcoming fights booked, it makes complete sense to book this fight and fill the gap while Michael Page faces Lima in the coming weeks. It’s this or spend time sat on the side waiting for something, which I doubt Gracie is keen to do.
Michael Page vs Neiman Gracie
This has some possibility but it means that Gracie will be playing the waiting game because of Page having a potential number one contender fight with Douglas Lima on October 1st. Assuming Page wins the fight, one would think Page is in line for the title shot against Amosov which would likely see Gracie out of action until potentially March or April of 2022. A loss for Page is the only likely scenario where I see Page vs Gracie being made at this moment in time where we could see this fight made in early 2022.
Yaroslav Amasov vs Neiman Gracie
This is a long shot for me but not completely crazy. I rank this as a long shot due to as I previously stated Page vs Lima is likely putting the winner in line for the next shot. For Neiman Gracie to get the shot, it would mean that Amasov would defend his belt until April of 2022, which will have had the Ukrainian watching from the sides for 10 months.
That is not something the undefeated champion would be happy to do. Sit and wait or is “Dynamo” looking to get in there as early as possible? If the former is the case it would be a marketing dream for Scott Coker, Amasov defending his belt against Gracie. If there’s something we know about Coker, it’s that he’s a businessman.
With Gracie knocking on the championship door, can the businessman in Coker overlook the possibility of having a Gracie as champion in Bellator? We all know that the promotion is the main rival to UFC, where of course uncle Royce Gracie, the tournament Champion in UFC 1,2 and 4, is an icon and a legend.
Could we see a Gracie crowned as Bellator Champion by 2022?
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