At Bellator 246, Neiman Gracie unexpectedly became a key element in Jon Fitch’s decision to retire when he locked in a second-round heel hook submission. It ended the former Ultimate Fighting Championship and Bellator MMA title contender’s 18-year career. Although he has mixed emotions on being part of his foe’s decision to hang up his gloves for good, he also understands that winning the fight was far more beneficial for his career than losing to the welterweight legend.
“Nobody was expecting him to hang up the gloves. I think if he had won this fight, he would definitely keep going. I heard him say something similar. That he thought about doing it before he fought Jake Shields [at World Series of Fighting 34], which has been years ago. But he just kept winning,” Gracie told Sherdog. “He was what, five years without losing? I think [the loss] changed his mind a little bit. He said, you know what, I’m done with this. Nobody was expecting that [and] I didn’t expect it either. Since he did it, it was a pretty special moment. I kind of felt bad a little bit. But on the other side, I rather feel bad and win than [feel good] and lose the fight. Like they say in Brazil, ‘I rather have his mom crying than mine.”
In his conversation with Sherdog, Gracie spoke about his pivotal win inside Connecticut’s Mohegan Sun Arena, as well as how his evolution as a well-round grappler and growth in “cage-wrestling” were key in his victory. In addition, he talked about his unplanned 15-month hiatus before the fight and his thoughts on future fights with Douglas Lima, Lorenz Larkin and Yaroslav Amosov.