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Neiman Gracie (9-0) is a welterweight combatant signed with Bellator MMA. In his next bout, the unbeaten 30-year-old will collide with Rory MacDonald in the semifinals of the promotion’s welterweight grand prix at Bellator 222. The contest is all the more compelling because MacDonald’s welterweight title will be on the line.
With the fight taking place June 14 at New York’s Madison Square Garden, here are five things you might not know about Gracie.
He is a multiple-time Brazilian jiu-jitsu championNeiman is a fourth-generation member of the Gracie clan; the most famous family in all of combat sports. His father is 1980s BJJ star Marcio Stambowsky while his grandfather is Gracie Jiu-Jitsu founder Carlos Gracie.
Neiman started training in the gentle art at the tender age of 7. He would go on to have an illustrious grappling career. His accolades include Pan American gold, winning the New York International Open Championship, and a first-place finish in the 2011 edition of Grappler’s Quest.
He calls New York homeGracie was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1988. In 2007, the burgeoning grappling star relocated to the United States with his parents. There, he trained at the renowned Renzo Gracie Academy in New York, under the watchful eye of his uncle, the facility’s owner and head trainer. Neiman continues to call The Big Apple home to this day.
He usually wins by submissionTo date, eight (89 percent) of Gracie’s nine victories have come via submission. They comprise of three rear-naked chokes, two armbars, two neck cranks and one arm-triangle. Three (38 percent) of his submissions were delivered in the first round.
His victims include former national wrestling champion Ed Ruth, whom Gracie overcame with a fourth-round neck crank in his last outing and grand prix quarterfinal matchup in December.
Gracie summed up his aggressive approach to the grappling element of mixed martial arts, when he recently commented, “If I take someone down, I’m not going to stall in someone’s guard. I will go for the finish, and I will get a good position, and I will finish the fight on the floor.”
He started out as a middleweightEven by today’s standards, the 6-foot pugilist is considered to be a large welterweight. In his grappling career, Gracie competed in a number of different weight categories, including heavyweight and super-heavyweight.
When he made his first foray into MMA, Gracie did so as a middleweight, in what transpired to be a victorious bow against Darren Costa at World Series of Fighting 5 in 2013. His second bout was also contested at a catchweight of 175 pounds. It was not until Gracie’s third fight and Bellator debut in 2015 that he made the move down to welterweight.
He has the joint-most submission wins in Bellator historyDuring his time with Bellator, the BJJ black belt has triumphed on six occasions via submission. This ties Gracie with Michael Chandler, Goiti Yamauchi and Ilima Lei-Macfarlane for the most submissions in the organization’s history.
Gracie will be looking for a record-breaking seventh submission success when he locks horns with MacDonald.