The main card of UFC Fight Night Tampa this Saturday, features two of the most successful Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioners to cross over to mixed-martial-arts in recent years, in the form of Mackenzie Dern and rising featherweight talent, Kron Gracie. Dern takes on Amanda Ribas in her first Octagon walk in seventeen months, while Cesar Gracie Jiu-Jitsu product Kron, features in a co-main event slot alongside one-time featherweight title chaser Cub Swanson.
The Rio De Janeiro born grappler is the son of Jiu-Jitsu pioneer Rickson Gracie and in his promotional bow against Alex Caceres, became the first member of the legendary family to secure a victory in the promotion since his uncle Royce at UFC 4. In his premier outing, Gracie took Caceres’ back early before locking up a patented rear-naked choke. Despite his somewhat, naive experience with just five professional fights, Kron has beaten some notable names both inside the cage and on the mats.
Before his November, 2018 signing to the promotion, Kron had submitted former UFC featherweight Tatsuya Kawajiri, as well as Hideo Tokoro during his brief stint with RIZIN FF. Kron’s incredible finishing instincts and ability stem from his superb grappling background. The ADCC gold medallist, managed twenty-four submissions in his twenty-nine successful matches, forcing the tap against the popular John Danaher product Garry Tonon, compatriot Otavio Souza twice, the talented Shinya Aoki and fellow ADCC gold medallists, Johnathan Torres and world champion Claudio Calasans.
Pitted against Swanson this weekend, Gracie certainly faces his most difficult and dangerous striking matchup in his six fight career. The faltering Swanson has picked up eleven separate knockouts during his fifteen year career, but has dropped an alarming seven submissions, on paper, quite detrimental when facing a Gracie.
Swanson has been particularly troubled with choke submissions in the past, with a rear-naked choke a real prominent tool within Kron’s vast offensive grappling arsenal. Swanson also told recently how many Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu schools refused to help him prepare for his upcoming co-headliner in Florida, for the simple fact that he was fighting a Gracie, which I suppose goes to show, the sheer approbation of the Brazilian family’s name in 2019