Ahead of UFC’s 30th-anniversary show, legendary Royce Gracie surprised fans by naming the ultimate MMA fighter, in his mind.
As UFC’s 30th-anniversary show approaches, Royce Gracie surprised the MMA community by declaring his father, Helio Gracie, as the greatest MMA fighter in the history of the sport.
While modern legends like Jon Jones, Georges St-Pierre, Khabib Nurmagomedov, and Conor McGregor often dominate discussions, Royce argues that his father’s influence transcends conventional metrics.
Helio Gracie’s journey into combat sports began in 1932 when he faced national boxing champion Antonio Portugal. Demonstrating his groundbreaking BJJ techniques, Helio swiftly took down his opponent and secured an arm-lock victory in just 40 seconds. This marked the beginning of a legacy that would redefine the essence of self-defense.
But Helio Gracie had a lot of oddities. Rickson Gracie’s book detailed some of the most surprising ones.
Royce Gracie attributes his father’s greatness not to traditional martia arts prowess but to a revolutionary self-defense style. Helio’s innovative approach focused on enabling a smaller practitioner to defend against larger, stronger opponents, laying the foundation for what is now known as Gracie jiu-jitsu.
“He was way ahead,” Royce Gracie emphasizes. “Not as a fighter but as a self-defense style.”
“You put a smaller guy and he defends himself against somebody who is bigger and stronger. “You see it’s not the same way of fighting. You take all the rules out. No time limit, no gloves, no weight divisions, fighting three or four fights in one night. “It was my father; he was ahead of everybody.”
Helio Gracie’s fights, some lasting an astounding 3 hours and 43 minutes, showcased his resilience and dedication to his craft. Despite suffering defeats, including a historic knockout at 43, Helio’s influence extended far beyond the octagon.
The Gracie family, with Helio at its forefront, pioneered BJJ, an art that became synonymous with dominance in the UFC. Even in his passing, Helio’s impact endures, and Royce Gracie’s unconventional choice forces us to revisit the roots of MMA, acknowledging the unsung hero who shaped the sport’s foundational principles.