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Expanding a Legacy: Can Neiman Gracie dethrone Rory MacDonald at Bellator 222?

Looking for his 10th pro win, Neiman has a chance to do more than just advance into the Welterweight Grand Prix finals.

The Gracie family tree is stacked with a plethora of talented fighters. Currently, Renzo Gracie is looking to hone his craft as Royce did, in the UFC. There is one member of the family who may be overlooked. This one fighter is actually close to becoming a champion.

His name, is Neiman Gracie.

The 30-year-old Gracie (9-0) is a fourth-generation Gracie and the nephew of Renzo. A multi-time medalist in jiu-jitsu, Neiman started fighting professionally in 2013. He won two fights for the World Series of Fighting before joining Bellator in 2014. In 2015 he made his debut, defeating Bobby Flynn at Bellator 134 via neck crank. It wouldn’t be the last submission win for him, as he has eight wins via submission, six with Bellator.

Neiman is being groomed to be Bellator’s future. He was announced for the Bellator Welterweight Grand Prix as one of the younger competitors in it. In a matchup of different skills, Gracie made boxer Ed Ruth submit in the fourth round at Bellator 213 in December. There was something about his style that had him controlling the entire bout. As a result of that win, he will look to take that momentum into his semifinal matchup against Welterweight Champion Rory MacDonald.

The fight will take place inside Madison Square Garden at Bellator 222 on June 14th, this will be Gracie’s first main event. Speaking to Double G Sports, he was not worried whether it was a bout between MacDonald or Jon Fitch as his focus was on training.  He is proud to fight in Madison Square Garden, something many of his family members were unable to do.

As far as the result of the fight? Speaking to Bloody Elbow, Gracie kept it short and sweet, a common staple of Neiman’s character.

“I see myself winning by submission the fourth round,” Gracie stated. “Maybe a rear-naked choke or maybe a flying armbar.”

Will MacDonald be the right mind frame heading into Bellator 222? After his fight majority decision draw against Fitch at Bellator 220 in April, MacDonald stated he didn’t have the same drive to hurt people as he once did. A red flag to start, MacDonald also only had a few weeks to prepare for Neiman. However, MacDonald, Gracie and Bellator appear to be fine with the turnaround. It will be extremely interesting to see how all of these factors add up in the fight.

Regardless of how it may seem, Gracie is ready for battle. He doesn’t believe the fight with Fitch was great because of the fact that MacDonald survived Fitch’s (lack of) offense.

“The difference between Jon Fitch and I is if I’m able to get Rory down, the way he did, I’ll go for finishes on the ground,” Neiman continued. “When Fitch gets people on the ground, he likes to hold on and wait for the time to pass.”

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Baseball Editor, Misc. Sports Editor. Covers all things combat sports (MMA, Pro Wrestling and Boxing). When he's not writing, Daniel hosts a podcast, The Main Event.
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