Jiu-jitsu master and groundbreaking MMA pioneer Royce Gracie has joined on with Bellator MMA as promotional brand ambassador. Arguably the most influential and important figure in MMA will now be involved with Bellator by hosting seminars, making promotional appearances and will aid in the international expansion of the Bellator brand around the world.
“To call Royce a legend would be an absolute understatement,” Bellator President Scott Coker said. “Royce and the Gracie family are directly responsible for making this sport what it is today and we are incredibly fortunate to have him be a part of the Bellator family. Royce will serve in many different capacities for Bellator and I look forward to our fighters, staff and most importantly, our fans, in having the chance to interact with one of the most iconic figures in sports.”
Royce Gracie is considered by many to be the most integral pioneer of brining MMA onto the main stage as we know it today. He was the tournament winner of the first Ultimate Fighting Championship, showcasing superb jiu-jitsu technique by defeating every opponent by submission. He went on to accomplish the same feat in UFC 2 and 4, racking up 11 consecutive victories by submission (the most in UFC history). In addition to the UFC, he also competed in Pride, K-1 Premium and took his last match by unanimous decision against Kazushi Sakuraba in Dynamite!! USA in 2007.
(Royce Gracie in UFC 1, photo: Holly Stein / Getty Images North America)
“I have known Scott for a long time and have always respected him as not only a promoter but as a martial artist who has always treated fighters with respect and truly understands their value,” Gracie said. “Bellator and Viacom want to give fans exciting fights and enable fighters to continue to grow and most importantly provide for their family, and it’s something I want to be a part of. UFC has done a great job over the past twenty years in building this sport and taking it globally and I’m glad to have been part of that, but Bellator is a growing organization I am honored to be a part of, and with the dedicated and talented people already associated with the company, we can further the growth of mixed marital arts as a sport worldwide.”
Bellator could not have signed a bigger name to serve as international ambassador. With a name like Royce Gracie attached to Bellator MMA, there’s no question that it will bring many more eyes to the Bellator name across international audiences. While he has been confirmed to immediately work in the promotion of Bellator 131, we’re sure to see him soon as part of the organization’s telecast.