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The Legend Royce Gracie
Just who is Royce Gracie?
Royce Gracie is probably most well known for his contributions to the world of MMA. The Gracie family are well known in Brazil for their particular type of Brazillian Jiu Jitsu. Royce began learning Jiu Jitsu from his father Helio as a toddler. When he was only 8 years old he began competing and was a blue belt by the age of 16.
On a personal note, Royce Gracie is my favorite fighter of all-time. I fell in love with him as a child and I've tried to learn everything about him from that moment on. I remember watching the very first UFC with my dad when I was very little. Royce Gracie comes out, and he's facing this huge guy Art Jimmerson. I thought "This little dude is about to get smashed!" But lo and hehold, he dominated! I was floored. And hooked from that very moment on. I've watched almost every UFC event from that moment on.
The Birth of the UFC
When Gracie was 17, he moved to California with his older brother Rorian to help teach Gracie Jiu Jitsu in the U.S. He is a 6th degree black belt in Gracie Jiu Jitsu. 6th degree! Do you know how high that is? I don't either, but I imagine it's insane...
Rorian Gracie and his friend Art Davies had a master plan to find out which fighting style was the best of all. They created an 8 man elimination-style tournament with the only rules being no biting and no eye gouging. There were no time limits and the fight would continue until one fighter could no longer go on. The winner would receive $50,000 and the title of Ultimate Fighting Champion. Royce Gracie would be representing Gracie Jiu Jitsu.
Gracie's UFC Career
In UFC 1, Royce defeated his first opponent, a boxer named Art Jimmerson, by pinning him to the ground. The boxer didn't know how to defend this style or how to get away, so he declared defeat.
Royce's next fight of the night would be one of many against the same man. He was facing Ken Shamrock, a chiseled shootfighter. It seemed Gracie didn't stand a chance against this man. Shamrock showed his impressive grappling skills and looked as if he could win the match, but Gracie got behind him and locked in a rear naked choke. Controversy ensued as master cry-baby Ken Shamrock whined that Gracie used his Karate gi as a weapon. He also said it wasn't fair because he couldn't wear his wrestling shoes. He then pulled his panties out of his crack and stormed out of the room.
In the final match of UFC 1 Gracie faced a Savate World Champion named Gerard Gordeau. He easily choked him out quickly, making Gracie the first UFC Champion! This sent a shock-wave through the world of martial arts and kick started cross-training among competitors. Martial arts would never be the same.
Gracie went on to win UFC 2, beating Minoki Ichihara, Jason Delucia, Remco Pardoel, and finally Patrick smith, all by submission. All in the same freaking night! He did not win UFC 3 because of an injury suffered in the first round.
UFC 4 would make pay-per-view fans furious. Gracie won his first three fights, easily knocking off Ron Van Clief and Keith Hackney before facing "The Beast" Dan Severn. The fight between Gracie and Severn (and Severn's incredible mustache) lasted 16 minutes long. Gracie stayed pinned underneath Severn for the majority of the match until finally wrapping his legs around Severn's neck for a triangle choke. The reason PPV fans were furious is because the match was so long the pay-per-view cut off before it was finished! Fans demanded their money back. As a result, time limits were introduced in 1995.
In UFC 5, Royce would have a rematch with arch nemesis (and known whine bag) Ken Shamrock. The match lasted for 30 minutes with a 5 minute overtime, ending with a draw. Gracie left the UFC after this fight.
At UFC 45, ten years after the UFC was started, Royce Gracie and Ken Shamrock were the first two fighters to be inducted in the UFC Hall of Fame.
In 2000 Royce entered the 16-Man Pride Grand Prix. It has been said that Gracie entered the tournament to avenge the loss of Royce's brother Royler to Kazushi Sakuraba. To add a little weight to the thought, the Gracies requested special rules to be applied in the event that Royce faced Sakuraba in the tournament with no time limits and no referee stoppages. Royce did indeed advance in the tournament to face Sakuraba, and they battled for an hour and a half. Unfortunately Gracie's signature gi backfired as Sakuraba used it to defend himself against Gracie's attacks. After an hour and a half of punishment, Gracie's corner threw in the towel after noticing Royce was in serious pain. After the bout the men shared an embrace to show there was no bad blood between them. Sakuraba went on to defeat Renzo and Ryan Gracie and has been known ever since as "Gracie Hunter".
In 2003 Royce lost another fight in Pride due to a ref stoppage that was controversial. The referee said Gracie had been choked out on the ground, and Gracie insisted he was still fully conscious. He stopped wearing his gi after that fight.
In 2004, Pride would sue Gracie citing breach of contract after he left and went to K1 to fight. Gracie blamed the incident on a misinterpretation of the contract by his manager. He fought a couple of fights for K1 in '04 and '05 with one win and one draw.
He returned to the UFC to face fellow Hall of Famer Matt Hughes in UFC 60. Unfortunately, Gracie was KO'd in the first round due to massive strikes given by Hughes.
In 2007, it was announced that a rematch would be held between Gracie and Sakuraba in K1 Dynamite!! USA. Gracie won the decision after 3 rounds. A couple of weeks after the fight, the California State Athletic Commission announced that Royce tested positive for the steroid Nandralone, which can be found naturally in small amounts in the body. According to the CSAC, the average person can produce an amount equal to 2ng/ml and an athlete can produce up to 6ng/ml. Gracie's Nandralone levels were higher than 50ng/ml and in fact were so high that they couldn't be registered by the test. Gracie was fined $2,500 and was suspended for the remainder of his license. His suspension ended in May of 2008. Gracie still denies the accusations, saying that he is very strict on his "no cigarettes, no alcohol, no drugs" philosophy.