The mixed martial arts world is fired up for the UFC to hit Brazil. The sport, built upon the backs of great Brazilian fighters like Royce Gracie, is still on the fringe in his homeland. The UFC has a chance to make it mainstream.
Once the Olympics announced it would hold the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, the UFC decided it was time to make a push in Brazil. Rumors began swirling immediately that Gracie would fight on the card.
He was the champion, in a tournament-style format, back at UFC 1 and UFC 2. Gracie was the smallest fighter in the field. That was 1993 and 1994. He’s 44 years old now without a professional fight since 2007. Gracie wants the chance to close his career in the Octagon and it sounds like the UFC is willing to give him the opportunity:
"It would be the perfect place to do my last fight," Gracie told UOL Esportes (via Bloody Elbow). "I never fought in Rio de Janeiro and I couldn’t be more psyched. We are negotiating [the fight deal], but we should have it finalized in two weeks. We only had an initial contact and I don’t even have an opponent yet, but we should have that finalized soon … My weight is the same as it was twenty years ago [80kg], I am still training, keeping the blade sharp. I follow a very strict diet. I never drank, never party, Carnival, none of that… I’m ready to fight"
There’s also rumors that his cousin Renzo, 43, will fight on the card as well. It may be a feel good moment for a few seconds when they enter the Octagon, but it seems like the UFC could be walking a fine line with this one.
In 2006, Royce was never in his fight against Matt Hughes at UFC 60. Hughes grounded and TKO’d him in just 4:39. Renzo was slightly better against Hughes, losing at UFC 112. But it doesn’t appear either should be in there with anything resembling a top 20 welterweight.
UFC heavyweight Roy Nelson was tweeting last night asking fans for their opinion on a Royce fight:
Nelson’s "on the juice" mention was a reference to Gracie’s positive steroid test following his last fight against Kazushi Sakaraba.
Eliminate Matt Serra from the list of candidates. Serra, a Gracie fighting disciple, isn’t going to cross his mentor Renzo to fight a member of the family. The other names are puzzling. Could Royce really be competitive against Dan Hardy or Amir Sadollah?
Tip via MMAMania