Royler Gracie, one of the most celebrated names in all of Brazilian jiu-jitsu knows a lot about what it takes to become an MMA champion. Although Gracie was never an MMA champion himself (he retired with a record of 5-5) he has trained some of the best fighters in the world and knows what kind of impact BJJ can have on a fighter.
“Well today in MMA everyone trains in Jiu Jitsu and most of these guys are out there and they are champion and black belts. We see the big names today Anderson (Silva), you see Shogun, you see Werdum, you see all the guys.. you see Damien Maia, beautiful jiu-jitsu.”
Royler would know what ‘beautiful jiu-jitsu’ is. He is a 7th degree black belt under the Gracie system and is a 4 time world champion. He competed in Jiu-jitsu for over 20 years and has one of the most famous names in the entire martial arts world.
He stresses that you need to train in Jiu-Jitsu if you want to even compete in MMA.
“All these guys (champions) are black belts. They compete in jiu-jitsu, they train a lot of jiu-jitsu, they have spent time in the academy training jiu-jitsu. And then they came into compete in MMA. Well, I think it’s pretty much all these guys and everyone is training in jiu-jitsu today. If you don’t train in Jiu-Jitsu I don’t think you’re supposed to be involved in MMA. You need to train in jiu-jitsu.”
Royler competed in one of the most well-known matches in BJJ history when he took on relative unknown Eddie Bravo in 2003 at the Abu Dhabi Submission Wrestling Championships and lost. They had a rematch in 2014 that ended in a draw. Despite this loss, that match became something of legend for both fighters and still remains a hot topic of discussion many years later.
Gracie is no longer focused on competing, but does train some of the top fighters out of his San Diego academy. The married father of 4 girls has published 3 books and remains one of the most well liked and humble people in martial arts.
Gracie notes that fighters need to be well rounded and those that just focus on one aspect won’t be good often to compete with the best in the business. He leaves with a harsh dose of reality for those looking to competing in MMA.
“You can be the best wrestler, you can be the best in judo, you can be the best at karate – and nothing against those other martial arts but you don’t know jiu-jitsu at least a little bit, you’re not going to save your neck.”