Is BJJ Master Royce Gracie returning to the UFC?

Matt Larkin
Guest Writer

It’s funny to think that, less than a year ago, I was wondering how Royce Gracie would fare today. As it turns out, we may have that question answered this summer.

The UFC is headed to Rio de Janeiro this summer, making its first visit to Brazil since 1998. Naturally, Brazilian MMA superstars like Anderson Silva, Wanderlei Silva and Shogun Rua are expected to line up for their chance to fight on that card. But it was quite the shock to hear the other day that Royce Gracie is considering suiting up at that event as well.

Particularly fascinating was Gracie’s quote this week, which makes it look like the UFC has already given him the OK to return at age 44:

“This return of UFC to Brazil touched me, made me feel the wish of coming back to the Octagon. Everything has been negotiated with Dana White. Let’s wait and see.” So would the most famous Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner of all time have a chance at success in the modern UFC? If they brought him back, the UFC would need to choose his opponent strategically.

Here are some ideas that come to mind:

BJ PENN

BJ fights in February but would be ready to fight again come August. Gracie would likely fight at 170 pounds and BJ fights there right now. This would be a legendary grappling battle, though I think BJ would dominate the striking.

MATT HUGHES

Maybe this is been there, done that? Then again, Hughes is on his last legs. The playing field is more level than it was when they met several years ago during Hughes’ prime.

DEMIAN MAIA

Gracie would have to put on a bit of weight for this one but it’s not like Maia is a huge 185-pounder. This would be a battle between, arguably, the best BJJ practitioners of their generations.

MATT SERRA

This might be an interesting matchup because (a) Serra would talk solid trash to hype it up and (b) Serra is past his prime, meaning Gracie would have a shot against him.

JOSH KOSCHECK

Koscheck seems like the brash, loudmouth type that Gracie loves to shut up. This fight would get plenty of media coverage and, ultimately, would probably give Koscheck a win and a springboard back up the welterweight ladder.

BROCK LESNAR

Don’t laugh. For one, Gracie got famous by beating and submitting men 100 pounds heavier than him when he dominated the UFC’s early days. Secondly, Gracie openly requested a bout with Brock Lesnar a couple years ago.

Those are just a handful of hypothetical opponents that would interest me. The greater question, however, is whether or not Royce Gracie should attempt this comeback at all. The idea is exciting in principle but what if he can’t cut it anymore? It would be a shame to see a legend get torn down on his home soil. 

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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