The Gracie family created the UFC and revolutionized how fighters train and popularized the once unknown realm of ground fighting. Back in 1993 a young Brazilian by the name of Royce Gracie shocked the martial arts world by proving Brazilian (Gracie) Jiu Jitsu’s effectiveness. Winning 3 Open Weight UFC tournaments Royce Gracie solidified the fact that anyone who was willing to step in the octagon had to know the grappling art pioneered by the Gracie family.
BJJ Gracie schools are spread all over the United States and around the world. Many successful fighters are currently based out of these school such as Jake Shields, the Diaz brothers, and Gilbert Melendez are from the Cesar Gracie’s camp. Since the days of Royce Gracie winning Open Weight Tournaments the Gracie family has concentrated more on their schools than fighting in MMA. Even though some did fight none has been successful as Royce. In the past, a fighter baring the surname of Gracie cause opponents to shiver in fear, but today they are just one of the many family members who are just trying to build a career with the name.
Rolles Gracie, a young and upcoming fighter, recently made his debut at UFC 109. Originally he was going to fight Mostapha Al Turk but due to an injury he had to pull out. UFC threw in a late replacement, Joey Beltran. The fight was suppose to be a cake walk for Rolles as his new opponent was relative unknown and considered less dangerous than Al Turk. Unfortunately, Rolles couldn’t put up any offense or defense and fell to the hands of Beltran. The loss was embarrassing which led to UFC booting him from the promotion. This is not the first time a debut by a Gracie ended in embarrassment. Cesar Gracie was knocked out by Frank Shamrock seconds into the first round at Strikeforce’s first MMA event.
Renzo Gracie has recently signed a multi-fight contract with UFC, and his first opponent is none other than Matt Hughes. Hughes, a few years ago, easily defeated Royce Gracie in UFC 60 putting an end to the Gracie dominance the name once held. Renzo on the UFC roster is nothing more than a stab to associate a Gracie name with the most successful MMA promotion in the world. Multi-fights don’t mean squat. Renzo will need to win impressively, and a bad loss can send him back to Strikeforce.
Ironically, the Gracie family who forced the MMA world to learn BJJ is now finding themselves that BJJ alone can not win fights. Many fighters today focus on the defense of BJJ, wrestling, and striking. Sure there are many world-class BJJ fighters who can fight, but those who rely solely on their world-class grappling skills are being beat by fighters with less grappling experience. Being well-rounded is key in the sport. It’s not just being dominant in one particular art, but to mesh and utilize all the different skills to win. Now it’s the Gracie family that is forced to learn beyond their heritage grappling background.