If you train Jiu Jitsu, you’ve probably heard of Kron Gracie.
Kron Gracie is the son of the legendary Rickson Gracie, and is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt who has had success in both MMA and BJJ, earning the title of ADCC champion in submission grappling before suffering his first loss in MMA at UFC back in 2019. He recently lost to Charles Jourdain, also a BJJ black belt, by unanimous decision after lack luster performance where he didn’t throw any punches and tried to grapple, pulling guard and even butt scooting.
After this loss, he posted on Instagram that he was trying to please the BJJ community by following their advice and staying to his grappling roots.
This situation poses an interesting dilemma – is it better to stay true to the foundation of Jiu Jitsu and grapple in MMA looking for submissions or should you seek to expand your game by developing striking and wrestling techniques? Here, we explore this debate from both perspectives, and offer advice on how one can find the balance between the two.
Kron Gracie’s Undefeated Start and First Loss in the UFC
Kron Gracie’s MMA career began as a phenom, with four professional MMA fights and four submissions in the Japanese Rizin organization. He had an undefeated record there and used mostly grappling mixed with ‘dirty boxing’, and his name carried weight in the MMA world. He followed the similar strategy as the Diaz brothers. Then came his first loss in the UFC in 2019 against Cub Swanson.
The nature of the fight was a surprise to many—Gracie did not grapple, instead he tried to prove a point by striking with the dangerous and experienced striker that is Cub Swanson. His next fight in the UFC, came almost 4 years later against Charles Jourdain and ended with another defeat for Gracie after he went back to his roots, pulled guard and relied on his grappling skills rather than striking.
This prompted Gracie to make a post stating that he was given bad advise leading up to the fight, and that he tried to please the Jiu-Jitsu community by going back to his grappling roots. He now faces an important dilemma—should he remain grounded in BJJ or should he develop his striking game?
The Controversy of Pulling Guard and Butt Scooting in MMA
Kron Gracie’s conservative approach to MMA—pulling guard and butt scooting against opponents—has been a massive source of controversy amongst the UFC fanbase. Fans often argue that Gracie should be developing his striking game, while others claim he should focus on what got him to the top of the grappling world—his world-class Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) skills.
Many MMA fans have called out Gracie’s pull-guard strategy as an inefficient way to win fights. On the other hand, supporters point out that it takes enormous courage and confidence in your ground game to pull guard on trained strikers in front of millions of viewers.
Ultimately it boils down to a question of style and purpose: Does Kron Gracie want to focus on developing his striking skills for greater success in the UFC? Or does he want to continue relying on his exceptional BJJ background and honor this unique branch of the martial arts?
Kron Gracie’s Post-Fight Comments on Receiving “Bad Advice”
Kron Gracie’s post-fight comments on receiving “bad advice” shed light on an internal struggle he experiences. Kron’s father Rickson, was highly critical of Kron after his loss to Cub Swanson.
Rickson Gracie, subsequently confessed that he wasn’t happy with how Kron carried himself throughout the fight.
In a recent interview for the Trocação Franca podcast, Rickson revealed that Kron was too emotional going into the bout:
You don’t have to be emotional when you fight, and I think Kron was emotional. He wanted to prove himself and to his friends that he could take a punch, that he’s not afraid of getting punched, that he wasn’t worried about using only one skill and delicate technique to win fast without getting hurt, keeping his face clean. He said: “I can prove that I’m a man, that I’m in this environment and I can brawl.”
Rickson regrets that Kron wasn’t thinking strategically:
He proved to himself that he has heart, that he’s brave and has cardio, that he can take the pressure, but I already knew that in my head. I know he’s an animal, he’s a warrior. What he showed me was lack of ability to work strategically on someone else’s weakness. I never liked clashing heads — I always liked catching someone when they were distracted, to surprise them.
I don’t like taking the toughest path, I like taking the door that’s open, the easier way to win. The quickest, the more efficient way, and causing less pain and trauma, the better. If I can beat the guy in 10 seconds in a way he doesn’t even feel pain, that to me is the best possible [outcome].
At the MMA level, being able to deliver strikes gives a fighter more flexibility in their style; for example, they are able to fight standing up and still have an option of taking it to the ground. Knowing how to throw punches can also act as a dissuasive tool by intimidating the opponent; however, as seen in Kron’s UFC losses, there are risks that come with it.
The decision whether or not Kron should expand his skillset is up to him – but he may need to make a difficult choice regarding his identity as a purely BJJ-based fighter. There will be those who expect him to stick to grappling and branch out only when necessary, while others might push him towards striking to become a fully-rounded fighter. It all depends on what kind of career he wants for himself: will it be built solely around BJJ and submission grappling or will be aiming at becoming a successful MMA fighter?
The Pressures of Carrying the Gracie Name and Jiu-Jitsu Legacy
Kron Gracie is not just any MMA fighter – he bears the Gracie name, adding a level of expectation and pressure to succeed within the Jiu-Jitsu community.
Keeping up with Growing MMA Sport
The world of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is constantly evolving and fighters, especially those with a prestigious last name like Gracie, must keep up with the changing times and expectations. In order to remain competitive, Kron must continue to develop his stand-up game.
Maintaining the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Legacy
On the other hand, by staying true to his roots in grappling and respecting the foundations that Kron’s grandfather built in Jiu-Jitsu, he is helping to maintain the family legacy. His remaining loyal to BJJ helps him stay grounded and connected to where he came from.
Should Kron Gracie Focus on Developing His Striking or Stay True to BJJ?
Making a decision about the direction of one’s martial arts journey can be a difficult challenge, especially for someone like Kron Gracie who is so deeply invested in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. He has to decide between following his heart and staying grounded in BJJ, or developing his striking skills to become a more complete fighter and succeed in the UFC.
On one hand, Gracie has been very successful in MMA albeit against lower skilled opponents, without having to specialize too much in striking. His record was undefeated prior to his recent losses against Cub Swanson and Charles Jourdain. But these losses showed how vulnerable he can be, not having an adequate striking game to defend himself.
On the other hand, investing too much time and energy into striking could have its drawbacks as well. Spending too much time on Muay Thai or boxing could mean that he takes away from his invaluable expertise in Brazilian jiu-jitsu—which is what makes him such a threat against any opponent.
Ultimately, the decision will come down to a balancing act: finding a way to use both principles without taking away from the core values of BJJ that make him so good. Even still, this will require an immense amount of dedication and sacrifice, but if anyone can pull it off—it’s Kron Gracie.
The saga of Kron Gracie is far from over, and as he continues to compete, his story will evolve. We can only hope that his next move is the right one, and that he listens to his own inner instincts — and not the advice of others — to find success on the mat and in the cage.