I remember the first time I saw him fight. It was 1994 and I was just then finding out about the UFC. I didn't totally understand it at the time, but I was curious.
Like many new fans and inquisitive onlookers, I was taken aback by the sight of this tiny guy in a karate gi who somehow managed to win fights against much larger opponents ... while lying on his back. It was amazing. I wanted to see more.
I've never stopped watching since. And it's all because of Gracie. In my opinion, the UFC may not even exist today if it were not for him.
Royce is 44 years old. His last win was in 2007 against an older, slower and far less dangerous version of Kazushi Sakuraba. In his last UFC fight, Gracie was battered and bruised by family-nemesis Matt Hughes.
In a recent interview, Gracie said that he doesn't feel like he's done yet. If it's up to him, he'll get one more shot at Matt Hughes.
Gracie just wants to end things with a clean slate and a clear conscience. He was able to avenge one of his losses against Sakuraba in 2007. Unfortunately, he can't avenge his UFC 3 loss to Harold Howard, as Howard has not fought since 1996. He is now retired, due to injuries. With a win over Hughes, Gracie would be able to avenge his last loss and would feel ready to move on into the MMA afterlife.
"That's the only one. I want to be able to show up to the fight. [Last time], I didn't show up. It happens. That's the only one missing. "If it happens, good. If it doesn't happen, good."
When it was announced that the UFC would be visiting Gracie's home nation of Brazil for UFC 134 on Aug. 27, 2011, he instantly began clamoring for a final showdown against Hughes.
His request was not granted.
It's hard not to feel for a guy like Gracie, who essentially started this entire mixed martial arts movement and now can't get anyone to take his phone calls.
At some point, you just have to walk off into the sunset. Nobody wants to see Gracie get his brains beaten into oblivion for the sake of a cause, regardless of how just the cause is. Nobody wants to see Royce Gracie become the Brett Favre of MMA.
What do you think, Maniacs? Does Royce deserve one last shot? Do you think he'll ever get it?