It has been almost twenty years since the face of combat sports changed forever. In 1993, the UFC premiered in Denver, Colorado. Fight fans dreamed for years of a highly televised, Hollywood style kumite. And thanks to co founder Rorion Gracie, the world of combat sports changed forever. Gracie and Art Davie, along with director John Milius, set the stage for an eight man elimination tournament that shocked the world. UFC 1 featured kick boxers, boxers, wrestlers, karatekas and of course the mysterious Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
At the time, only a few had ever heard of BJJ, the rest of the other fighter’s styles were household names. People knew what to expect from the other styles, but they were none the wiser to what BJJ was like. The world was even more shocked when 26-year old Royce Gracie dominated the tournament, with his family’s coveted style. At UFC 1, Gracie’s BJJ proved too unpredictable and overwhelming for the other combatants. Gracie easily won the tournament and began his journey to changing the face of combat sports.
Now, nearly twenty years later, Gracie reflects on his family’s legacy, from the website mmafighting.com
“I knew [the UFC] was going to get big,” Gracie said. “But what Dana White and the Fertitta brothers did, they turned it into inspiration for the new generation. Now, the news the kids, they grow up like baseball, like soccer. They grow up thinking one day I want to be baseball player, they want to be soccer player. Today, they train thinking they want to be UFC fighter. They start young now.”
Gracie is right, without Dana White and the Fertitta brother’s promotional innovations; the UFC would be nowhere near as popular as it is now. But there can’t be promotion without a product. The Gracie family helped bring the world a unique combative sport. Their style of combative sport is one that has changed the martial arts forever and for that, the Gracie’s legacy will be one that is long remembered.