Bellator 222 Q&A with Neiman Gracie: 'I believe it's my destiny to be champion'

On Friday night at Bellator 222, Neiman Gracie will challenge Rory MacDonald for the welterweight title in the semifinals of the promotion’s grand prix.

If victorious, not only will the 30-year-old Gracie (9-0 MMA, 7-0 BMMA) become a first-time champion and remain undefeated, he’ll also move on to the $1 million tournament final against Douglas Lima.

Last month, MMA Junkie caught up with Gracie to discuss his matchup with MacDonald, the progression of his career, the pressure of potentially fighting for $1 million, and more.

Bellator 222 takes place at Madison Square Garden in New York and streams on DAZN. You can check out our Q&A with Gracie below.

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How’s your training camp going?

If a team is winning, there’s no reason to change. I’m doing all the things I’ve always done at the Renzo Gracie Academy in New York. I work on my muay Thai and wrestling here – everything, really. Training has been going great. And it’s no secret that I plan to take Rory down and get a submission. Since everyone knows my gameplan, I have to stay very sharp to make it happen.

You’re about to fight for the Bellator welterweight belt. You’re undefeated, with eight submission wins. Can you talk about your career up to this point?

I’m very happy with the way my career has come along. I’m very happy with all the victories I’ve achieved. They’re the product of the very hard work I’ve been putting in for years. I was able to demonstrate that I’m on a high level in my last my fight (a submission win over Ed Ruth at Bellator 213). Everything has prepared me to face Rory MacDonald for the championship belt. I believe it’s my destiny to be champion. I’ll give everything I have to make that happen on June 14. Everything has worked out as expected. I can’t hardly wait.

What can you say about Rory MacDonald?

He is one of the best fighters in our weight class. In my opinion, he’s in the top five, possibly top three, in the world. I expect a very difficult fight. I expect to be winner. And, if all goes well, I expect to win by submission.

You’re fighting for the belt, and if you become champion, your next step would be to face former champ Douglas Lima with a $1 million dollar prize up for grabs. Does that put extra pressure on you?

I’ve always dealt with pressure throughout my career. I’m used to it. I try not to think too far ahead. I think about the present. I have a great opponent I’ll try to beat now. After the fact, then maybe I’ll think about the grand finale and the prize money. I’m working hard to be ready for this bout.

Anything else?

I’ll give my best on June 14, so I can bring this belt to my family.

For more on Bellator 222, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie

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