How would Royce Gracie fare today?

Reading today’s headline, you probably think I have amnesia. We already know the answer to that question. Royce Gracie fought Matt Hughes as a 39-year-old at UFC 60 and got his clock cleaned.

But when I ask how Gracie would fare today, I don’t mean Gracie in the twilight of his career. I mean Gracie in his UFC 1 heyday – the Gracie who dominated an infantile sport that didn’t yet understand the concept of mixed martial arts. The gi-clad man who dominated guys 100 pounds heavier than him with then-unseen Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tactics.

If we took that Gracie today and placed him in, say, the UFC welterweight division, how would he fare?

When we look at a fighter like Demian Maia, considered by many fight fans to be the best BJJ practitioner on the planet right now, we see a good example of what Gracie would probably be today. In a world of mixed martial arts, Maia is as close as you’ll find to a one-dimensional fighter today. He has no standup game; his only goal is to get opponents to the ground and start grappling. As he showed against solid fighters like Chael Sonnen and Nate Quarry, he can go a long way solely with his BJJ.

However, the Nate Marquardt fight – one in which Nate the Great’s boxing immediately overwhelmed Maia – showed that Maia’s skills could only take him so far. And I think the same would happen to Royce Gracie today. The modern fighter is an eclectic fighter, combining multiple disciplines. Just look at the striking and wrestling prowess of Georges St-Pierre; having one strong suit can no longer lead a fighter to a championship.

That said, I’m overlooking two key factors. First, it’s never fair to compare athletes from different eras. Alexander Ovechkin could’ve challenged Wayne Gretzky’s records had he played hockey in the same era. Also, we can’t overlook how dedicated and intelligent Royce Gracie was as a fighter. How do we know he wouldn’t adapt to the modern MMA landscape and develop his striking in today’s world?

Food for thought, but what do I know?

By Matt Larkin
Guest Writer

BJJ Club Toronto,  North York, Brampton, Etobicoke, Markham, Mississauga, Oshawa, Peel Region, Pickering, Richmond Hill, Scarborough, Thornhill, Vaughan, Woodbridge, York, York Region Ontario Canada.

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