The Pros and Cons of Having Royce Gracie Fight for the UFC in Brazil This Summer
Reports have been swirling online that UFC Hall of Famer Royce Gracie has announced he would like to make his return to the Octagon this summer, appropriately scheduled for UFC Rio in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Rumors have suggested such things as a bout against former UFC 1 opponent Art Jimmerson, as well as an invitational matchup requested by fellow UFC Hall of Famer Dan "The Beast" Severn or possibly a rematch with former UFC Welterweight champion Matt Hughes.
However, nothing has been confirmed by either UFC president Dana White or UFC matchmaker Joe Silva. The 44-year-old Gracie told HD Net's Inside MMA he would meet with the UFC boss this week to discuss his return.
While some fans feel happy about Gracie's recent announcement, others feel that the potential comeback, only for a one-night appearance, would be risky on the Brazilian's part and he would have much more to lose than he would have to gain.
In this slideshow, we'll take a look at the pros and cons of Gracie's return to the Octagon and how it could affect his legacy in the sport of mixed martial arts.
Pro: He'll Get the Chance to Fight in Brazil
The opportunity of witnessing Gracie fight one final time would undoubtedly pay homage to Brazilian fighters and fans and to the sport itself.
Upon entering the UFC, Gracie defined the art of grappling and submitting bigger guys to prove that there are more ways than one to defeat an opponent.
It would also show the admiration and appreciation that the UFC holds for Gracie, as he and his family have become synonymous with MMA and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Not to mention, seeing Gracie walk away from the Octagon with his hand raised in victory, in his home country of Brazil, would truly be an iconic moment and a memorable one, too.
Con: He Hasn't Fought Competitively Since 2007
While it would be a emotional moment just to witness the sight of the legendary Gracie in the UFC, unfortunately, he hasn't fought in a competitive bout since 2007.
Gracie squared off against Japanese fighter Kazushi Sakuraba at K-1 Dynamite USA in Los Angeles, California. The bout appeared to be lackluster and saw the Brazilian prevail via a controversial unanimous decision that many fans felt Sakuraba won. However, it would be revealed that Gracie tested positive for anabolic steroids following the fight, and the California Athletic State Commission declared that there was Nandrolone found in his blood.
Also, UFC fans remember the last time Gracie stepped inside the cage he fought Matt Hughes at UFC 60. Despite training Muay Thai in preparation for the bout, Gracie showed limited striking ability and his renowned BJJ skills never appeared as he looked defenseless on the ground while Hughes controlled and dominated the fight. At one point, Hughes applied an arm-bar that hyper extended Gracie's arm, but the Brazilian maintained his composure and refused to tap. Hughes went on to win via TKO.
And while Gracie has not officially considered himself retired from MMA, not competing actively for four years would certainly not help his chances of winning should he attend UFC Rio.
Pro: He Will Be Featured on the Main Card
Advertising Gracie on the main card would surely generate more intrigue in the event, considering the star power the card holds already, as it looks to be one the best events this year.
In the main event, UFC Middleweight champion Anderson Silva will defend his crown against challenger Yushin Okami, while the co-main event will showcase familiar foes Forrest Griffin and Mauricio "Shogun" Rua in a rematch from UFC 76 that saw Griffin defeat Rua via rear naked choke.
Perhaps the entry of Gracie onto the card will only add to the historic event slated for August 27.
Con: There Are Other Prominent Brazilian Fighters to Feature on the Main Card
Adding Gracie's name to the blockbuster event would be huge, but it shouldn't be the UFC's main priority.
While it would be a gracious decision to include Gracie on the main card, there are other intriguing matchups that could make it's way to Rio.
For instance, Vitor Belfort has been requesting for UFC to give him the opportunity to fight in his hometown, something fans have also been very vocal over. Belfort has been asking for a rematch with Wanderlei Silva following their recent trash talk. Belfort defeated Silva at UFC Ultimate Brazil in 1998, the only other time the company has stepped onto Brazilian soil. Belfort knocked out Silva in just 44 seconds.
Following his loss to Anderson Silva at UFC 126, Belfort wants to redeem himself and perform for the Brazilian fans, and since Belfort is one of the most recognized athletes in Rio de Janeiro, it's inevitable.
Also, since it is a special occasion to return to Brazil, UFC might consider featuring some of Brazil's prominent fighters such as Jose Aldo, Lyoto Machida, Thiago Alves and Junior Dos Santos among others.
It is a kind gesture to include Gracie on this card, but it would also be understandable should the UFC respectfully decline Gracie's offer.
Pro: The Inclusion of Royce Gracie Will Help Sell the Event
As mentioned in the previous slide, including Royce Gracie at UFC Rio will only add onto the star power and help sell the event, making it that much more special to watch.
Gracie is the most influential fighter in MMA history and it would be disrespectful to not include a legendary fighter to be involved with the event in some capacity; especially when you consider that UFC is a company he and his family helped build.
His name and his legacy will always exist in the UFC as much as it exists with BJJ.
Con: He Is No Longer Relevant in MMA.
Gracie's presence in the Octagon would be felt, but would it necessarily add any value to his hall of fame career?
Gracie is undoubtedly a legend in the sport, and icon in his country, but like most aging fighters he wouldn't hold much purpose competing on the card. A win or a loss would not serve any purpose except for a spot in the record books.
The purpose of UFC Rio is to celebrate the landmark that is Brazil and appreciate the history and passion it has for MMA. It is to celebrate Brazil's talented fighters from the past, present and future.
That being said, Gracie has every right to be included at this event and should have every right to be a part of this historical occasion that will be remembered for years to come.
He holds a contribution to the modern sport, but he is no longer relevant in comparison to today's fighters.