Royce Gracie fought in a different era than today’s fighters. He recorded eight consecutive wins from UFC 1 through UFC 3, although some would say he had eleven consecutive wins from UFC 1 through UFC 4, but we’ll get to that in a minute.
UFC 1 was a one-day, open-weight, eight-man MMA tournament. There was no limit of rounds, and fights only ended in knockout or submission. Basically, anything goes. It brought fighters of many different disciplines together. Boxers, wrestlers, shootfighters, karate and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioners. Gracie is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu master. At that time, no one had seen Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, let alone practiced it.
In his first match at UFC 1, Gracie defeated boxer Art Jimmerson by submission when he mounted Jimmerson and pinned his arm behind him. Jimmerson had no idea how to get out of that position, and he was forced to submit. In the next round, Gracie submitted Ken Shamrock with a rear naked choke. In the finals he defeated Gerard Gordeau, when Gordeau submitted due to a rear naked choke. Gracie won three consecutive fights in one day to win the tournament.
Four months later came UFC 2. This time it was a 16-man tournament, also completed in one day. In the first round of the tournament, Gracie defeated Minoki Ichihara by submission, using a collar choke. Gracie submitted both Jason DeLucia (armlock) and Remco Pardoel (Lapel Choke) in just over a minute each, to earn a spot in the finals against the 250 pound kickboxer, Patrick Smith. Gracie forced Smith to submit due to strikes in just over a minute. Again, the 170-pound Gracie forced the 250 pound kickboxer, Smith to submit due to strikes in just over a minute. That’s four consecutive wins in one day to again, win the tournament.
The UFC went back to an eight-man tournament with UFC 3. Gracie would be matched up with the 260 pound, Kimo Leopoldo. In a classic, grueling fight Gracie was able to defeat Kimo via submission due to an armbar. After the fight Gracie was forced to withdraw from the rest of the tournament due to exhaustion. So, since he could not continue, the win streak technically stopped there. Keep in mind that these tournaments were all completed in the same day, unlike tournaments today that are spread out over months.
Three months later, Gracie came back for UFC 4. He submitted all three of his opponents (Ron Van Clief, Keith Hackney and Dan Severn) to win the tournament, and push his record to 11-0. His next fight at UFC 5 versus Ken Shamrock resulted in a draw due to No Judges. Gracie and Shamrock fought for 36 straight minutes without a decision.
However you look at it (Eight or Eleven Consecutive Wins) Royce Gracie is THE legend of the UFC. He’s the reason fighters started cross-training different disciplines.
A 170-pound man making 250-pound men tap out. It’s hard to imagine that happening today. If there is any 170 pounder that could do it, it would be…