It has to be tough if you are the child of a professional athlete.
There is always going to be some form of an expectation that the child is going to play the same sport, but rarely does the child ever turn into the actual quality of player that the parent was. Prince Fielder, son of baseball player Cecil Fielder, is one child who is likely to outdo his father as far as his career is concerned. But then there are people like Koby Clemens, son of baseball player Roger Clemens, who has played minor league ball for the last couple of seasons and doesn’t look like he is going to truly realize the same fame and success as his father.
When it comes to combat sports, there is one name that stands out above the rest: Gracie. After the early dominance in the sport by Royce Gracie, and the emergence of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu that came with it, the Gracie name was forever stamped into the world of MMA.
Numerous men with the last name have gone on to grace an MMA cage or ring at the sports highest level: Royce, Renzo, Rickson, and Rodrigo to name a few. Last month, there were three Gracie’s on the same card at One FC 5 as Rolles, Igor and Gregor went a combined 2-1 on the night.
But it may be time for the men to get out of the way. Second-degree black belt Kyra Gracie is looking to make the jump that her first cousin, twice removed, Royce made back in 1993, to MMA. The question at this point is, will she live up to the hype like Fielder, or fizzle away like Clemens?
One simply does not walk in, flick a switch and become a world champion in MMA. Naturally, anyone looking to make the move would have to train in all of the aspects and disciplines of the sport, but Kyra has an absolutely outstanding base to start from. Strikeforce women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey has an elite level of judo that she uses in her fighting, so it isn’t so much of a stretch to think that Gracie could use her dominant jiu-jitsu on her opponents. After all, the concept of women engaging in the sport is still rather new to the scene, possibly putting her in front of a lot of her competition simply based on the one art she excels at.
Simply having the surname that she does is going to garner her attention for her first fight. It is unknown as to what promotions are going to jump out and try to sign her, but it goes without saying that leading promotions such as Invicta, Strikeforce and Bellator are going to make an effort. This we know.
But what we don’t quite know for sure is whether or not she will be able to contend with the top women in the world. Right now, Rousey holds the championship title, but she also holds the unofficial title of the face of the sport. Royce was the original face of men’s MMA, but there is always going to be a different type of appeal in the face of any women’s sport.
Despite losing to Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos, many still viewed Gina Carano as the face of women’s MMA based on sex appeal. While Santos won the title in that fight and successfully defended it twice, her physique didn’t quite put her in position to be the face of the sport. In Gracie, should she rise up the rankings, there is no doubt that she would enter the conversation. She has the family background, the ability and the looks to be front and center as the torchbearer for WMMA.
People will argue that Rousey lacks in one or more of those departments, but right now she doesn’t need to be looking too far over her shoulder. She is truly the queen of the sport and will be for the foreseeable future. But before we know it, there may be a new lady atop the world of women’s mixed martial arts, and she is likely to have the last name Gracie.
Photo: Kyra Grace (William Burkhardt/BJJPix.com)