Ralek Gracie signs with Bellator MMA, seeks to pay back Metamoris debts
The founder of the Metamoris submission grappling tournaments, Ralek Gracie, has confirmed to ESPN that he has signed to compete in professional mixed martial arts with Bellator MMA.
Son of iconic jiu-jitsu practitioner Rorion Gracie and nephew of UFC legend Royce Gracie, Ralek Gracie (3-0) hasn’t competed in MMA since 2010. All of his pro fights occurred in Japan. His most recent was a decision win against Kazushi Sakuraba in May 2010.
“I’m ready to get myself back out there,” Gracie said. “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.”
STRONG WARNING – BROTHERLY LOVE
Earlier this week, Flograppling.com reported Gracie’s brothers, Ryron and Rener, issued an internal email cautioning Gracie academies from conducting business with Ralek and Metamoris. Ralek Gracie expressed optimism about Metamoris and his relationship with his brothers, while reiterating his excitement about MMA.
Metamoris, particularly Ralek, has been at the center of controversy after several of the athletes who have competed did not receive pay that was promised to them. It has been rumored that Ralek owes $200,000 to the athletes.
“I’m going to start fighting in MMA to pay these guys back,” he promised. “That’s how serious I am about this. My dad, his level of integrity, people don’t even know about. My dad told me that I needed to call everybody that I owe. Where am I going to run? There is only forward.”
“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.”