As we get closer and closer to the fight between Roger Gracie and Tim Kennedy at UFC 162, let's not forget the role I played in orchestrating this match up. And, by that, I mean this interview I conducted with Roger Gracie back in August during the UFC on FOX 4 open workout.  Gracie was nice enough to take some time out to talk with me about the comments Tim Kennedy made on twitter and BOOM, ten months later, now they're fighting each other.

See how quickly I made things happen, people.

I recently ran into Roger at Metamoris II and thanked him for being my first article back at Studio MMA.  He couldn't have been nicer about it.  I'm really looking forward to the match up between him and (the always entertaining) Tim Kennedy -- and, frankly, can't wait to see it in person next week in Vegas.

Since the Studio MMA website is temporarily down, the guys over there were nice enough to let me reprint the article here at Verbal Tap (sadly, you're missing the accompanying picture of me interviewing him, but I think you'll live).  So here, for your reading pleasure, was my quick interview with Roger Gracie.

Strikeforce’s Roger Gracie Responds to Tim Kennedy’s Challenge By Raf Esparza

While the focus of the open work out for this Saturday’s UFC on FOX 4 may have been on his Black House teammate Lyoto Machida, Strikeforce middleweight Roger Gracie was on hand to talk with StudioMMA about a recent challenge issued by Tim Kennedy.

“What happened was Strikeforce President Scott Coker mentioned that I was the best grappler in Strikeforce and then Tim Kennedy said on Twitter that he’d like to prove him wrong,” said Gracie.

When asked if a future match up against Kennedy is in the works, Gracie expressed interest in the idea and said the fight is certainly a possibility, while also making a case on how his fighting style might prove difficult for Kennedy to overcome.

“I mean, I think my jiu-jitsu is better than his… and I think, of course, the ground game is in my favor, and I have a better reach [than him]. But you cannot predict, you just plan for the best.”

Gracie, however, was complimentary of Kennedy’s recent split decision loss to Strikeforce Middleweight Champion, Luke Rockhold.

“I think he did well, but in the end he lost—even though he looked better by the end of the fight. I think [Rockhold] kept him under pressure a lot more and that’s what lead to the loss.”

So how would a fight against Kennedy or another competitive middleweight contender play into the Brazilian’s long-term fighting aspirations?

“I think in MMA, for me, my plan now is a very long goal: Trying to become the best fighter you can. But before that a lot of people say, ‘Oh who do you want to fight next?’ and I think that is a very short goal. Because if you do fight that person, then, when it’s gone, what do you do next? For me, as long as I keep winning, I’m just going to keep fighting better people.”

Originally published on Studio August 3, 2012.