The son of the king, the prince of Gracie BJJ, Kron Gracie returns to competition this weekend when he finally makes his debut for the UFC. With a 4-0 MMA record and a long history of success on the mat, Kron is a big prospect for the UFC moving forward. Before he steps into the cage on Saturday against Alex Caceres, let’s take a look at Kron’s background. You can’t start talking about Kron without mentioning his lineage. Not only is he a world champion black belt and a member of the Gracie family, but he is also the son and star pupil of BJJ legend Rickson Gracie, who many consider the greatest Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fighter of all time. Kron grew up training under his father’s guidance and was well known for a very traditional, conservative game that harkened back to an old-school mindset that the Gracie’s perpetuate.
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Kron had a very successful BJJ career, with the highlight being his 2013 Abu Dhabi Combat Championship gold medal, a tournament where he submitted every opponent on his way to being crowned the best no-gi grappler in the world.
ADCC gold. He beat four men in that bracket, including Garry Tonan, JT Torres, and Otavio Sousa, all three being elite world class grappling talents. His match with Garry is recognized as one of the most exciting of the whole tournament, with Kron escaping a fully locked armbar before taking Garry’s back to cinch in his own choke. Kron retired from competitive BJJ after the victory to focus on MMA, but that performance still stands as a special moment for the grappling world.
Kron wasn’t just a no-gi specialist, he was very proficient in the gi as well. After winning (and dominating, really) at the lower belts, including world championships at blue, purple, and brown belt, Kron transitioned to black belt and within years was among the elite of the elite. His highest placement at the IBJJF World Championships (the recognized toughest gi tournament in the world) was a silver medal performance in 2011, losing 9-2 to Gilbert “Durinho” Burns in the finals. Don’t let his placement at second fool you, Kron had an amazing tournament, with wins over Michael Langhi and Leandro Lo (by submission) helping send him to the finals.
Maybe the most emotional victory of Kron’s career actually didn’t come at Worlds, but at Europeans. Two days before the elite tournament, the BJJ community was rocked when one of the founders of the sport, red belt Helio Gracie passed away. While the BJJ community was in mourning, the Gracies had lost their patriarch, and people weren’t sure how Kron would respond. He came out two days later on fire, tapping his way through his bracket, using the same basic BJJ that his grandfather had championed. It was a very emotional moment for the young black belt and a great performance that helped send him to the next level in grappling.
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Kron Gracie’s Biggest Fights
Kron fought all comers in his career and took on a lot of world champions and elite talent in his time in BJJ. He didn’t win his biggest fights every time, but his spirit and skill always shone brightly.
In 2011, at ADCC’s, Kron fought his way to the semifinals with wins over Jason Manly and Murilo Santana, before running into one of the greatest ever in Marcelo Garcia. He fought hard and gave Marcelo some serious trouble, but Garcia wouldn’t be denied and caught Kron in his vaunted guillotine choke for the tap. Still, unlike a lot of grappling competitions, the loss wasn’t the end of the day, and Kron had to regroup to take on Claudio Calasans for bronze. In an impressive turnaround from a hard-fought battle with a legend, he locked on his own guillotine choke for a bronze medal at the Olympics of BJJ.
It’s easy to point to a win and say it was impressive, but you can learn a lot about a man from a losing effort. In 2012, Kron entered the Pan American absolute division, one of the toughest brackets in the world every year. Kron won his first three fights, two by submission and one by DQ, before taking the mat against record-setting world champion Marcus “Buchecha” Almeida, who was 4 weight classes above him. Kron and Marcus scrambled and struggled and exchanged points and position before ultimately Buchecha leaped onto a kneebar and got the victory. Even though he didn’t win, the semifinal placement earned him a bronze medal and his effort against an ultra heavyweight earned him even more respect.
Kron’s career in MMA has been successful but brief. With a 4-0 record, every win has come by submission, his longest fight ending in the second round. He debuted in late 2014, taking on Hyung Soo Kim and locking on an armbar from guard in a little over a minute for his first win. He followed that up the next year with a triangle choke over Erson Yamamoto and a rear naked choke over Hideo Tokoro in 2016. On New Year’s Eve 2016, he notched his biggest win, another choke out over former PRIDE, UFC, and Strikeforce veteran Tatsuya Kawajiri. Now, a little over two years later, Kron is hoping to make his UFC debut against Alex Caceres another successful one.
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