After it came out this week that his brothers Ryron and Rener Gracie will no longer be doing with business with him, Ralek Gracie has decided to try and dampen the flames by announcing his signing with Bellator.
Ralek, 31, confirmed the signing with ESPN.com, he is currently going to be fighting at Bellator on January 21st in Inglewood, California against an undetermined opponent. He will be fighting at middleweight.
Ralek, who’s record is 3-0, is currently the 3rd Gracie family member currently in the modern MMA scene, alongside relatives Roger and Kron. This will be the first time Ralek will be fighting in the USA, all his other wins have come from MMA in Japan, where his last win was against Sakuraba in 2010.
“I’m ready to get myself back out there,” Ralek told ESPN. “I competed in a Metamoris jiu-jitsu match [in July], and I felt like I got in amazing shape but wasn’t able to focus like I wanted, because I was running my own show.
“I’ve always fought MMA. I never really competed in jiu-jitsu. I was always attracted to more of a real fight. I think people still want to know what this original style of jiu-jitsu can do in modern MMA. I’m into that, and I’m into being a catalyst in that story.”
Ralek Gracie’s involvement in professional MMA has been pretty limited so far. He said injuries and the responsibilities of fatherhood contributed to his decision to step away from competition years ago.
“Life got in the way a little bit,” Gracie said. “For me, it was always the goal [to compete in MMA], but I didn’t get paid for my last fight against Sakuraba. Dream were in a position where they were going down, and it was bad timing for me. At that time, I needed something more stable. I had kids. I needed to be more responsible for their future and think differently, but in the meantime, I always watched the growth of the sport.”
In 2014, Ralek founded Brazilian jiu-jitsu promotion Metamoris, which got off to a strong start but has since fallen under controversy after is came to light that he was not paying his athletes. Ralek went on to cover that controversy that came out this week.
“I really want to focus on this right now, but I definitely would say [Metamoris] is doing everything it can to move forward in the most honorable way possible,” Gracie said. “It’s tough, man. We went through a hard time, and I think people took for granted what we were bringing to the table — something that was revolutionary for the sport. We were really young, really green and didn’t have the business experience.
“It’s a surreal thing, to answer questions about my brothers — and even trying to defend yourself is dishonorable in this kind of situation. We’re just doing the best we can, and I think there are some stuff behind the scenes that people don’t know about and shouldn’t know about. I really don’t like avoiding questions, but at the end of the day, I really don’t think it’s important or relevant in this circumstance. This [Bellator signing] is very exciting and I’m excited to compete.”