Rickson Gracie is widely regarded as the best fighter in the Gracie family. However familial squabbles meant he never competed in the promotion that his family founded – the UFC.
Gracie addressed this development in his biography and blamed it on a contentious relationship with Rorion Gracie.
“In early 1993, Rorion’s dream of bringing vale tudo fighting to America to showcase Jiu Jitsu was about to come true. He asked me to meet with him and his student, Hollywood director John Milius, and told me that they had backers for the Ultimate Fighting Championship, America’s first vale tudo event,” – Gracie writes in his autobiography.
But despite the initial excitement, he quickly realized he would get passed over in favor of their younger brother Royce. Rorion Gracie provided the papers in order for Rickson to immigrate to the US, but the move created a lot of contention between the two with Rorion actively acting as Rickson’s manager.
“In addition to teaching at Rorion’s academy, I also taught classes at a health club in Laguna Beach. I was supposed to give my brother all of the money I made teaching, and he was supposed to pay all of my expenses.”
“But as my following grew larger and the checks got bigger, I was not seeing any more money. Our relationship hit a new low when he told me that he might take away my green card if I didn’t follow his orders. ”
Rickson would soon opt to have his then wife Kim, manage him.
“When my brother lost control of me, I became his greatest adversary, because I had the image, ability, and leadership skills that he lacked, and worst of all, everyone knew it”
So it wasn’t exactly a surprise when Rorion opted to put another member of the family in the spotlight.
“When Rorion told me that he wanted our younger brother Royce to fight in the first tournament and keep me as backup in case he lost, I was disappointed. ”
“While this seemed like a sensible decision, there were other reasons for it. Because Rorion and I were not getting along at the time of the first UFC, he didn’t want to risk making me a star who would overshadow him.”
While Rickson was initially involved in Royce’s training camps, he would take a back seat and focus on his own career and lucrative events in Japan.