Decorated Brazilian Jiu-jitsu world champion Roger Gracie made an unsuccessful debut in the UFC when he lost a rather uninspired decision to fellow former Strikeforce vet Tim Kennedy at July’s UFC 162. Gracie, who is widely regarded as one of the finest pure competition grapplers to ever hit the mat, appeared drawn and out of breath after cutting weight down to 185.
The loss prompted his immediate release from the UFC after just one fight, and now Gracie is in search of MMA employment elsewhere. But the loss also prompted a different kind of negative backlash in the form of criticism from Gracie family member and legendary MMA pioneer Royce Gracie, who revealed his disappointment at how his family has performed as of late in the cage.
While most MMA pundits believe that you have to be well rounded to find success in the Octagon, Royce Gracie still believes that using pure jiu-jitsu is a winning strategy. Roger Gracie found that he needed to add another dimension or two to his game in Strikeforce, but he stressed to Royce that he was looking to utilize his ground skills against Kennedy before tiring:
“If you see my last fight. I only threw two punches in the whole fight. If there’s something that I did do in that fight was jiu-jitsu, but I got tired and couldn’t do what I was planning to do,” he said. “But that’s his opinion, right?” – via MMA Fighting
Indeed it is the elder Gracie statesman’s opinion if he wants his family members who currently fight to stick to the strategy that works for him. There’s no doubt that Roger is one of the best submission specialists on the face of the earth, but in today’s ever-evolving MMA landscape, it’s hard to believe that being so focused on just one aspect of the game will yield positive results.
Roger only landed twelve significant strikes in his loss to Kennedy, and if he wants to be competitive against the best MMA fighters in the world, that’s simply not going to work. True, Kennedy is a grinding fighter with a penchant for neutralizing his opponent’s strengths, but with a gameplan so heavily centered on the ground game, he probably knew what to expect at UFC 162.
Perhaps Roger should also make his way back to Light Heavyweight. He’s a tall fighter at 6’4”, and leaving that extra 20 lbs. on his frame could give the time to focus on improving his overall skillset rather than worrying about the weight cut.
It’s unfortunate that roger was cut from the UFC after only one chance to prove himself, but the fact is he didn’t show up on the grand stage. Do you give credit to Royce’s beliefs about winning, or is he simply stuck in an era that is long past?