Royce Gracie is without a doubt the most famous member of the iconic Gracie family. Royce is the son of Helio Gracie, the founder of Brazilian jiu-jitsu. He made his first appearance in professional mixed martial arts at UFC 1 in 1993, when his older brother Rorion Gracie was an owner of the UFC. Royce participated to represent his family and their fighting style.
Members of the UFC audience watched in shock and awe as the scrawny and physically unflattering Brazilian made glib work of opponents who were much larger and more athletic than he was. Royce showed that traditional striking styles of martial arts were useless against a well-rounded grappler. However, that was twenty years ago, and the sport has undergone a profound transformation since then.
According to MMAJunkie.com, Royce believes the UFC has become a mainstream sport, contrary to the opinion of UFC President Dana White.
“It became mainstream,” Gracie averred. “I know because little kids now, when I travel – I’m on the road about eight months of the year – and when little kids come up to you, you’re talking about 8, 10 year olds, saying, ‘I want to be in the UFC. Can you hook me up?’ You know the UFC made it.”
Gracie seemed happy that the sport he pioneered in his youth had grown to such an extent, but he also disapproved some of the changes that have come along with it.
In Gracie’s heyday, the sport was still incipient and the participants were more no holds barred fighters rather than true mixed martial artists. It was a style vs. style battle with very little preparation or strategy. Today, the sport is radically different.
“The difference now is there’s a lot of strategy,” Gracie pointed out. “The guys have learned different styles of martial arts.”
Gracie seemed nostalgic as he explained how the rules of MMA should be changed back to the way they were before.
It’s not likely that Gracie’s wish will become a reality. As MMA has burgeoned, it has experienced a trend toward tightening safety regulations, and that trend will most probably continue.