Q&A with UFC legend Royce Gracie
Royce Gracie prefers his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu bouts be based not on points but on the true principles of the sport modernized by his father, Helio Gracie.
Enter Metamoris, founded by Royce Gracie's nephew, Ralek Gracie. The bouts at Metamoris II on June 9 at the Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles are based on one thing: submissions.
No points can be scored, except from those fans in attendance cheering on the fights.
Newsday spoke with Royce Gracie about the second Metamoris event, the early days of the UFC and what he thinks about the current UFC champions.
How did the idea of Metamoris come together with you and your nephew Ralek Gracie?
RG: The idea is, most martial arts were built for street purposes, for self defense, for street confrontations, not to score points. But tournaments came around and the promoters wanted numbers -- 3,000 people competing for different belts. But with points sometimes, it's not the best fighter who wins the fight and it's not realistic. You score half a point and you win the match. It shouldn't be like that.
So instead, we make it open for every fighter to compete in it and get the top 14 or 16 guys and match them up in the dream matches. No points, just submission. This year, we added a 20-minute time limit.
What's different between Metamoris I [in October 2012] and Metamoris II?
RG: This year, we add three judges, but not to judge on points. But, to judge on the point of view of who won yhe fight in case of a draw. The first one we did was win or draw. This year, the judges can judge for it a draw or if one of the fighters won the match. But it's based on a point of view, not on a point system card.
Sometimes, one fighter dominates the fight, stays on top of the other one -- kind of like when Dan Severn and I when we fought at UFC 4 [in 1994]. If you judged the fight on 15 minutes, he would have won because he was dominating. But he never attempted a submission, he never really landed a solid hit. But he was on top of me, 260 pounds lay on top of 180. He was dominating, but in the end, I tried to submit him more than he did. I tried chokes, I finally ended up catching him in a triangle and he tapped [at 15:49]. So that's the idea of Metamoris -- make the guy go for the submission.
What's been the response from fighters?
RG: There's people knocking on our doors and calling us, "Hey can you please hook me up and put me in there? I want to try that. I want to push myself." It's not just scoring a point. Now you have to prove it that you can finish the opponent.
What sort of crowd are you expecting for this card?
RG: Martial arts people. You go to a tournament, it's so long. You see one fight, you see them all. It's pretty much the same thing. Whoever scores the first point holds the rest of the fight until time's expired, five minutes, and he wins. Great. There's no excitement in that. They don't try to beat the guy. They don't try to submit the opponent. They just want to score a point and then hold the fight, run away for the rest of the match. Instead, in Metamoris, you're going to have to look for the submission.
Do you ever watch your old fights?
RG: Yeah, I watch it when it's playing on TV. I don't put it on myself. But if there's a special going on and I happen to be changing the channels, yeah, I'll watch it.
So many fighters nowadays say they first got into MMA by watching your fights. You had your father, Helio Gracie, to look to, right?
RG: I am a product of my father's work. I just did what I learned from him. And when I hear people come out and say "Because of you, I started training." Well, they saw me doing and decided to follow the footsteps, that's awesome. I don't look at it as me pushing them to do it, or as the inspiration for them to do it. They're the ones that got up, went out and did it. My father, he was way ahead of his time. He fought a guy that was double his weight. He fought the longest fight in history, three hours and 40 minutes. I fight the second longest, an hour and 30 minutes.
Where the heck did that stamina come from?
RG: It's a little bit of knowing how to use the technique, knowing when to rest during the fight. The first thing to win the fight, you have to know what you're doing. The second thing, you have to have endurance. You can have the fastest car, but without gas, you're not going anywhere. Your next-door neighbor has a scooter with gas and he goes much farther than you. The third thing is strength. You have to have power."
What's a typical day for Royce Gracie?
RG: I travel seven months a year, so it's a lot of hotels and airplanes. I teach about three hours a day. I always go for a run. I try to lift some weights if I have the time and the strength. But running and teaching, that's my life. If I'm home, just hanging around with the kids.
Did you ever think UFC would get this big 20 years ago when you first competed?
RG: We knew it was going to be big. People always want to see who's the best fighter in the world. Is it Bruce Lee or Muhammad Ali? It was just a question of passing through the boxing commissions.
Who do you watch now and say to yourself, "That guy can do what I did"?
RG: The champions. Why? Because they know how to use strategy. That's why they're the champions. They don't come out, duke it out and brawl. They know how to use strategy. A lot of times, people confuse strategy with a wish. What's your strategy for the fight.? "I'm going to throw a one-two combination, I'm going to double-leg and take him down, pound on him, punch a couple of times, he turns around, go for the choke." That's a wish.
Ever think about getting back into the cage?
RG: For the fighting, no, I'm done fighting. But for a [jiu-jitsu] match like this, yeah. It would be good. I'm a fighter, man. But you have to know when to stop in this business.
METAMORIS II FIGHT CARD*
Shinya Aoki vs. Kron Gracie
Braulio Estima vs. Rodolfo Vieira
Roberto "Cyborg" Abreu vs. Brendan Schaub
Mackenzie Dern vs. Michelle Nicolini
Andre Galvao vs. Rafael Lovato Jr.
Bill "The Grill" Cooper vs. Ryan Hall
(* subject to change)
When: June 9, 4 p.m. PDT
Where: Pauley Pavilion, Los Angeles.
Watch: metamoris.com/live-stream for $19.95.