BRISTOL, Conn.—Royce Gracie, the Babe Ruth and Abner Doubleday of mixed-martial arts (MMA), talked to Breitbart Sports about the sport’s origins and future on Wednesday.
“In the beginning, it was a style against a style,” the victor of UFC 1, UFC 2, and UFC 5 explained to Breitbart Sports. “Today,” he continued, “it’s more of an athlete against an athlete.”
Boxers, wrestlers, karatekas, and plain-old tough guys all converged upon Denver, Colorado, 21 years ago not only to crown the world’s best fighter, but to determine the world’s best fighting discipline as well. The gi-wearing, 175-pound Gracie submitted three much larger men to win the inaugural Ultimate Fighting Championship tournament on November 12, 1993. More importantly, particularly to the Brazilian, he proved the superiority of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu.
In his interactions with awe-struck admirers and in his remarks, a smiling Gracie exuded personal humility alongside familial pride. “My father never drank, never smoked,” the 48-year-old explained. “He served as an example. A lot people out there say, ‘You shouldn’t drink, kids.’ But they drink. Serve as an example.” He called his brothers his stiffest competition and beamed that into his 96th year father Helio Gracie still rolled on the mat. Observers, he said, marveled at his father’s strength and quickness. The son corrected those observations. “He was not fast. He just had perfect timing. He was not strong. He just had perfect leverage.” When asked by Breitbart Sports about Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, the mixed-martial-arts pioneer answered about Gracie Jiu-Jitsu.
Royce Gracie went on to submit the likes of Ken Shamrock, Dan Severn, and Akebono Taro, a sumo wrestler standing 6’8’’ and weighing more than 500 pounds, during his storied career. The ability of a normal-sized man to make much larger men cry uncle propelled him to legendary status.
The UFC’s first champion traveled to the Boys and Girls Club of Bristol Connecticut as part of a Bellator MMA outreach program to schoolboy wrestlers and interested young people. The promotion holds Bellator 134 at nearby Mohegan Sun on Friday night, which airs live on Spike TV.