The Gracie name is one of the most influential and recognizable names in MMA history. However, fighters with the last name Gracie haven’t enjoyed success in recent years. Royce Gracie thinks he knows why.

Speaking with MMA Fighting, he criticized the new generation of Gracie fighters and how they prepare for upcoming fights.

“Jiu-jitsu is enough,” he said. “I’ve trained boxing in the past to learn the distance, trained wrestling to understand how he would take me down, but I won’t get there to fight my opponent’s game. The (new) guys (from the Gracie) family want to complement their game, like if jiu-jitsu was incomplete. I guess they forgot a little about history.”

MMA Fighting does a solid job of reminding fans of how truly dominant the Gracies have been in the past few decades. Royce, Renzo and Rickson have won 32 out of 44 MMA bouts. Since the year 2000, the record has dropped to 60 out of 102 fights. Royce continued to explain his thoughts toward training in MMA.

“I do jiu-jitsu my whole life, so why would I try to stand and bang with Mike Tyson?,” he said. “I’m going to learn boxing in six months because my opponent is good in boxing? That makes no sense.”

Royce pointed to Roger Gracie as an example of how the current crop of Gracies are, to borrow a phrase, “doing it wrong, bro.”

“Roger, like any other member of the family, is trying to learn wrestling, boxing,” he said. “I believe in pure jiu-jitsu. That’s what I’ve done in the past. You have to go back to your roots and train Gracie Jiu-Jitsu.”

Roger recently fought in the UFC against fellow former Strikeforce contender Tim Kennedy. Roger was believed to have a great advantage on the ground due to his BJJ background, but that meant very little as Kennedy controlled most of the action in the fight.

Royce certainly has a point in the thinking that if you’re last name is Gracie, you should be training a lot of BJJ. That name puts pressure on a fighter to carry on their family’s legacy. It’s hard enough as it is to win on the bigger stages, let alone when you have the added pressure of bearing that last name. If fighters would focus on their family’s strength, there should be no reason anyone controls them on the ground.

Yet, it’s quite easy to see where Royce has a totally bias viewpoint. Of course he’s going to point to his family’s legacy as being the only thing a fighter needs. When your entire legacy is based on BJJ, there’s no reason to throw support behind boxing or Muay Thai. However, as we’ve seen through the years, a fighter cannot get by with a focus on just one discipline in MMA. In the early years of MMA, there were plenty of fighters like Royce, Mark Coleman and other grapplers who focused simply on their ground games. As the sport continued to evolve, though, it became clear that fighters needed to mix other aspects of MMA into their repertoire.

Even Royce is a walking fallacy to his argument. Everyone remembers when Royce returned to the Octagon to face Matt Hughes. The welterweight champion battered Royce on the ground and nearly submitted the BJJ black belt. Getting beat by Hughes, who was a one-dimensional fighter himself, proved that Gracie Jiu-Jitsu was in fact, not enough to win.

Demian Maia and Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza are other examples of fighters entering with amazing BJJ skills, but they realized that they needed to evolve. Maia’s striking game isn’t great, but it’s enough to make opposing fighters respect his stand-up as well as his ground game. Souza has improved his striking game enough that he recently knocked out Yushin Okami, who, outside of Anderson Silva and Tim Boetsch, hasn’t been stopped on the feet in the UFC.

In the early years of the sport, when many fighters had no idea what BJJ was, it was true that Gracie Jiu-Jitsu was enough to get by. To Gracie’s opponents in those days, it was the MMA equivalent of trying to figure out a Rubik’s cube. But fighters have evolved, and so too have their training methods. The current crop of Gracies will need to train multiple disciplines to keep up with the rest of the field. It’s not enough to know only one discipline when most fighters are competent in more than one nowadays.

The Gracies aren’t training wrong or focusing on the wrong things. It’s the rest of the field that has been focusing on the right things.


About The Author

Kyle Symes
Staff Writer

Kyle is a recent graduate of Aurora University, where he obtained a Bachelor's in Communications. Kyle resides in Illinois, just outside of Chicago. He played baseball and football in both high school and college, but is now focusing on an amateur MMA career.

  • darbycrash81

    I have the utmost respect for Royce as a pioneer of the sport, but MMA has evolved since his heyday. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu was an unknown quantity back then and this was an incredible advantage, but todays fighters are well versed in BJJ or at least educated about it. Royce would not dominate the sport in the same fashion today.