MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - No family commands as much respect in the Mixed Martial Arts world as the Gracies.
Brothers Carlos and Helio are the founders of Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and Helio’s eldest son Rorion co-founded the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).
But Rorion’s younger brother Royce can be credited for popularizing “the Gracie way” in MMA.
WMC Action News 5 Sports’ Sudu Upadhyay sat down with the UFC Hall of Famer during his visit to, Chad Chilcutt’s Memphis MMA, to discuss the legacy of the Gracie family, the rise of Bellator in the MMA world, and Royce’s current nationwide tour.
Sudu Upadhyay: You’re touring around with some of the guys you have trained right now. What’s the schedule like for what you’re going to be doing the next few weeks?
Royce Gracie: “I’m over here not to show them what to do, but to just kind of view. Maybe add some new stuff. Chad is my instructor in Memphis. He’s doing a good job. He’s got a beautiful new location, and then from here tomorrow I’m going to Lexington, to Benton, Illinois, and to Paducah, Kentucky, to Farmington, Missouri, and then go watch a Bellator in San Jose, California, and home for a week then back out again.”
SU: What’s the biggest difference from when you’re a fighter and you’re training the whole year to what you’re doing right now?
RG: “I travel about seven months of the year. Right now I’m teaching, spreading what my father taught us, but if I was training for a fight then it would be my time. I would stay at home, train, concentrate for the fight, but since I don’t have anymore fights coming up, I’m retired, I just travel the world.”
SU: What’s the difference between when you’re fighting versus right now in terms of a day to day basis?
RG: “Right now it’s more training the other people. Of course I still train, but I don’t push like training for a fight. That would be my time. I wouldn’t worry about training anybody.”
SU: So is there a certain set amount of hours a day you’re putting into it, or a regimen you wouldn’t do if you were fighting?
RG: “I consider eating and sleeping part of my training. So, yes, until my eyes are open to my eyes are closed I am in training.”
SU: Everybody that’s a fan of mixed martial arts knows what your family has done. You have Kron (Gracie) on the come up right now, what can you say about him and what he’s doing right now?
RG: "Kron’s fighting in Japan. He’s good. Neiman is fighting for Bellator. My son Khonry just signed to fight for Bellator. We have a lot of Gracie’s to come.
SU: The whole sport has a Gracie everywhere. What can you say about that?
RG: “People are always curious to find out who’s the best fighter. That’s why the shows bring out the best fighters, the best martial artists, put them in a cage and see what happens.”
SU: What can you say about jiu-jitsu, its evolution in MMA, and how it’s used in today’s fighting scene.
RG: “In the beginning it was a style against a style. So we proved Gracie jiu-jitsu was the best style of self defense out there. Today it’s more of an athlete against an athlete. They all have to learn the stand up part and the Gracie jiu-jitsu. You see a lot of these stand up guys learning the grappling part, and a lot of the grapplers have to complement with the stand up part.”
SU: The way Bellator is coming up it seems like MMA is the only sport with two popular leagues. You having been the face of UFC, and on both sides of it, what can you say about the evolution of Bellator and how its able to compete?
RG: “It’s good for the fighters. It gives them options. I would call that a friendly competition. If there’s only one show out there the fighters depend on that show. Having two it’s good, because it gives out more fighters, because the shows can only hire so many fighters. It gives them more chances to fight. It’s good.”
SU: When you look at its future 10-20 years down the road, what do you see Bellator becoming?
RG: “If I had that crystal ball I would be playing the lotto. Bellator is treating the fighters very good. The fighters are very happy over there. Where it goes? All over the world. It’s growing. It’s growing.”
SU: When you look at the sport right now there is some crossover. What are your opinions of guys like Brock Lesnar or CM Punk coming into MMA and going out as they please? Is it good for the sport or bad?
RG: “It’s good. If you get a professional boxer or you see a professional kick boxer that joins in or the pro wrestlers that come in to try it out. They want to test themselves. Bellator is the show to test their skills. If they think they’re a good fighter or a good martial artist come and try out.”
SU: What do you think of Gracie family and the legacy moving forward?
RG: “Just saw an interview my cousin Neiman Gracie did, and he was saying ‘the family doesn’t have anything else to prove, because we already did that. Now we just fight for the fun of it, because we like to.' It’s in our DNA and our genes.”
SU: Do you have anything to say about Chad or Memphis?
RG: “Tonight we’re teaching a kids class over here at my network in Memphis. Teach a kids class and an adults class. Chad’s a really good instructor. I’m here to kind of just present them a new way to look at the moves. Fix maybe a little bit, or a new strategy, but Chad knows what he’s doing."