One of the most notable stories to come out of UFC 288 has been the return of Kron Gracie. Back from a nearly four-year hiatus from MMA competition, the latest scion of Jiu Jitsu’s ‘first family’ took on Charles Jourdain in the opener for the UFC’s latest PPV event. Unfortunately, with almost no interest in standup striking and a grappling game focused on guard pulling, it was not an auspicious return to the Octagon.
Former UFC fighter turned commentator Alan Jouban became the latest notable figure in the MMA world to chime in on Kron Gracie’s performance at UFC 288; a list that includes promotion president Dana White. White shared his negative views on the Brazilian’s loss to Jourdain at the post-event media scrum, however the retired middleweight took the criticism a step further.
Did Kron Gracie look more like Royce Gracie at UFC 288?
In an interview on MMA Fighting’s The Fighter vs. The Writer podcast, Jouban started by praising Gracie for his superb jiu-jitsu skills. However, ‘Brahma’ also emphasized how being optimal at just one aspect of the game can only take an athlete so far in the modern sport. To hear Jouban tell it, Kron’s performance at UFC 288 bore more resemblance to Royce Gracie in the 90s than a modern MMA game.
“He’s a jiu-jitsu guy. He’s one of the best jiu-jitsu guys in the world and he’s warranted a lot of respect from that and that kind of inserted him into the UFC and these opportunities that he’s had. But when you come out like that and you look like you’re watching Royce Gracie at UFC 2 right here with the stance and the flat-footedness and pulling guard, it’s not a good look.”
“When you see butt-scooting in the UFC, it’s not a good look,” Jouban said. “It doesn’t look like he’s evolved. You’ve got to at least be able to roll and grab a single leg. You’ve got to be able to do something or throw some better hands.”
Is only facing fellow grapplers the answer for Kron Gracie?
For Jouban, Gracie would have to improve all the other aspects of his MMA if he wants to find success in the UFC. Otherwise, the UFC desk analyst believes the only solution to avoid losing would be to pair Gracie up against a fellow grappling specialist like Ryan Hall.
“He would have to evolve tremendously to keep a long career in the UFC. Because he can go back from this and really sit down with a boxing coach and say ‘I want to really polish my game.’ But there’s technical attributes you can add to your game and then there’s just natural physical attributes and you can see physically, he’s not a natural striker or an evasive, elusive guy. He’s very flat footed.”
“You know what they need to do with him? They need to give him a jiu-jitsu guy and just make it a fun fight and see what happens there,” Jouban said. “Give him Ryan Hall and let’s see some crazy ass technical jiu-jitsu. Make it one of these featured fights where it’s like I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen in this position and that position and make it fun. From there, we could see what happens but you can’t give him another very well-rounded UFC guy that’s going to stuff his takedowns.”
Kron Gracie hasn’t won a fight since 2019
The loss put Gracie (5-2) on a two-fight losing skid, with a unanimous decision defeat to Cub Swanson prior to UFC 288, all the way back in October 2019. The 34-year-old’s only Octagon came happened in February of the same year, when he submitted Alex Caceres with a rear-naked choke in the first round.
Alan Jouban (17-7) retired from the UFC with a unanimous decision win over Jared Gooden in November 2020. During his time with the promotion, Brahma scored wins over some notable names of his generation, including Belal Muhammad, Mike Perry, and Ben Saunders.
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