Our good friend Crosley Gracie, the self proclaimed “most handsome” of the Gracies, is set to take on Mach Sakurai at Pride Bushido on Oct. 14, 2004Crosley Gracie Interview Oct. 9 2004
Crosley Gracie is yet another of the younger generation of Gracie fighters who is following in the family tradition of not only teaching, but also fighting competitively. In Crosley`s very first match he took a decision over a very experienced Kimua Kunioka in a the Pancrase 10th Anniversary show. Crosley makes his return to MMA fighting and Japan this week as he is set to fight against Hayota “Mach” Sakurai in Pride Bushido (the US and many people`s first exposure to Crosley`s abilities will be in November when the event is broadcast on PPV). Let’s meet Crosley Gracie!
OTM- When did you start jiu jitusu?
Crosley- I started training in 1988, so almost 16 years now. I`ve been a black almost 2 years. I`m 25 now.
OTM-Who did you start with.
CG- I first started training with my uncle Reylson (Gracie) who is Rodrigo`s father. That was just self defense for about three years and then I went to Carlson`s academy and started training there.
OTM- Who were training partners back then?
CG- My training partners I would say, (pauses to think) some of the guys who have been fighting: Paulo Filo, (Ricardo) Arona, many guys. Who else? Many guys who are fighting today used to be my training partners.
OTM- When did you come to the United States?
CG- May of 1999. I came into San Francisco not to Ralph (Gracie)but another uncle of mine. Then I went to Los Angles/Orange County after a couple of months and lived their for a year. Then I came back in 2000 to train with Ralph.
OTM- What made you want to come to the United States?
CG- Man, I just thought it would be a good experience. You know, a different culture would help me become a more experienced person. Plus I wanted to learn more about boxing, wrestling and stuff like that. So I thought it would be a good move.
OTM- What made you come to Ralph`s Academy?
CG- I was either going to go to Renzo`s or Ralph`s. I was leaving Orange County and decided I needed to train with someone from my family. I went to Renzo`s for a month but I didn`t like New York so I called Ralph and told him I was coming to train with him and I`ve been here ever since.
OTM- How is it training with Ralph and his team?
CG- Man, I couldn`t see myself training anywhere else.
OTM- You got your black belt inâ€¦.
CG- 2003, almost two years.
OTM- But you`ve been teaching at the Dublin academyâ€¦.
CG- Since 2000 actually. Since I was a purple belt.
OTM- How do you balance teaching and fighting.
CG- I just really started fighting last year. Of course I had to take some time off, I cannot just train all day and then come in and teach. Not just because it`s physically tiring but mentally as well I need to take some time off to just relax my mind after training all day. But I think I`ve gotten to balance them pretty well. It`s no big deal.
OTM- You think being a Gracie has opened up some doors and given you some very tough fights to start off with.
CG- Most definitely, that`s for sure! You get to go to the big events right away but you get thrown to the sharks also. But, being a Gracie you`ve got to expect those things so it just makes me train harder.
OTM- Let`s talk about your first match against Kimua Kunioko. What were your thoughts going into your first match?
CG- Man, I just trained really hard and did everything I could to perform well. Fortunately all of my hard training paid off. I think I beat him in all areas of the game: Standing takedowns and on the ground.
OTM- Were you worried about his experience?
CG- I had a tape of him, 10 or 15 fights because I knew he had like thirty or forty fights, but I knew he had never faced anyone like me so I was pretty confident.
OTM- Now coming up you`re facing Hayota “Mach” Sakurai in Pride Bushido, what are your thought on him as a fighter and opponent?
CG- He used to be a very, very VERY tough fighter, he`s been fighting since 1996 I believe. He`s lost just four or five times, his record is like 20 and 5 or something. I feel very honored to be fighting him in the beginning of my career but again I feel I can definitely beat him because of my training and my training partners have been helping me out a lot. Also I`ve been studying his game so I think I know what to expect from him.
OTM- I`m going to read a quote from Sakurai on the Pride website and I`d like to hear your reaction to it: “The Gracies are experts at boring fights with no striking, where they just flop around on the ground. Crosley seems to be aggressive and good at striking so I’m excited. He’s supposed to be the best striker among the Gracies but he is a Gracie so he may still fight a boring fight. I think this is a holy war to defend BUSHIDO. If he fights like a Gracie, I’m going to be a suicide bomber.”
CG- I`m going to detonate him before he even thinks about exploding.
OTM- Are you going to jump over the ropes again?
CG- Definitely! It`s a family tradition! Hopefully I don`t trip and fall.
OTM- Let`s talk a little more about your training and training partners and who`s been helping you prepare.
CG- I`ve been training hard. My wife (Stephanie Moon) has been helping me with the stand up part. My students here Mitch, Jeff, Andrew, Rob, Joe. Plus, the guys in the city, Mikyo (Riggs), Luke (Stewart) Cameron (Earle), Kurt (Osiander) and Ralph.
OTM- Do you have any plans after this fight?
CG- I have a two fight deal with Pride, but I`m just going to take it one fight at a time right now. We`ll see what happens after this fight: I might take a few months off to relax, we`ll see.
OTM- Any opponents you want to face in the future?
CG- (Shakes head) I`ll fight anyone that they put in front of me. I don`t have anything personal against anyone I just like to keep testing myself. I feel very proud to be fighting such experience fighters my first couple of fights. I hope they keep throwing those guys at me, it`s just going to make me train harder to become a better fighter. So I don`t really care.
OTM- What do you think you can improve upon as a fighter?
CG- Definitely my standup and takedowns. I want to get my standup game and takedowns as good as my ground. Since I`m a black belt in ground fighting it would be nice to be a “black belt” in stand up fighting and takedown, so I`ve been working on that.
OTM- Let`s talk quickly about some of your family members. As you know Rodrigo Gracie is scheduled to face BJ Penn and Royler Gracie against Baret Yoshida at Rumble on the Rock in November.
CG- I am very confident in Rodrigo, I`m very confident he can beat BJ Penn. He`s very technical and very strong. I talked to him the other day and he said he`s been training like never before. I`m very confident that he`s going to be able to pull off this win even though BJ is an excellent fighter, very very skillful.
Royler, with the right training he can beat his opponent also.
OTM- Who came up with the Arnold impersonation first, you or Rodrigo?
CG- Rodrigo definitely did. When I went to visit him that`s where I picked it up. The guy is a character, always imitating everybody.
OTM- Ralph will accompanying you to Japan and plans on challenging Gomi again.
CG- Yeah, he was mentioning that if Pride doesn`t want to put the match up again he was going to go to Gomi`s academy and challenge him behind closed doors. I think Pride should though, with a fight that last only six seconds it could have gone either way. Why not to put the fight to go again, plus I bet the fans would love to see that fight.
OTM- Plus Ralph is in the best shape I`ve EVER seen him right now.
CG- He is! When he was going into that fight to Gomi he was in very very good shape!
OTM- So, do you feel you`re the most handsome member of the Gracie family.
CG- (Wide grin) Definitely. Thank you very much.
OTM- Let`s talk about life outside of jiujtisu (if there is life outside of jiujitsu!) What do you like to do with your spare time?
CG- I like to play a lot of CounterStrike on the X-box, it`s a very exciting game. I also like to watch a lot of war movies.
OTM- If someone wanted to take you on in CounterStrike what`s your code name?
What else man? I love going to the beach, since I`m from Rio. I like road trips, going to LA. Clubbing, when the time is rightâ€¦
OTM- We going clubbing after you get back from Japan?
CG- Sure man! Definitely! I can`t wait to become a normal person again!
OTM- Do you have any sponsors you want to thank?
CG- I was actually looking for some sponsors but unfortunately I don`t have any going into this fight! So I want to thank my students for their support and help. My training partners in San Francisco. My wife, for all the training and support and George Tsui from Univeral Martial Arts Academy in Concord for all the help.
OTM- Let`s plug the school for you for anyone in the area who wants to train with you.
CG- Anyone is welcome to come on in. We`re located at 7233 Regional St. – Dublin, CA and the phone number is 925-829-8397. Anyone who wants to come in feel free to come in and get a free trial.
OTM- Thanks a lot Crosley and good luck!
CG- Thank you Gumby.