Renzo Gracie is so old school, he began tapping fools out as a professional fighter a full year before his cousin Rorian and ad man Art Davie's brainchild the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) held its first show. Considering that we're coming up on the twentieth anniversary of UFC 1, which was held on Nov. 12, 1993, it's probably safe to say Gracie is a man who has seen and done it all over his two decades in the sport.
The inaugural UFC was held long before Olympic Gold Medalist Jeff Blatnick coined the term mixed martial arts (MMA) to help make a sport that was often derisively referred to as "human cockfighting" palatable to cable executives. Since the Portuguese term "vale tudo" was never going to catch on in the United States, back then competitors like Renzo were popularly referred to as no-holds barred (NHB) fighters.
Gracie's roots in this old school outlaw mentality might go a long way toward explaining his take on Rousimar Palhares' recent firing from the UFC, which came after holding on to his submission against Mike Pierce last week in Brazil, despite the fact that Pierce had already surrendered.
@ ToquinhoMMA: @ RenzoGracieBJJ thanks for the words master, I have been crucified as a bad character, a person of evil ... You are not— Renzo_Gracie_BJJ (@RenzoGracieBJJ) October 15, 2013
@ndebevoise it's not his character... It's his intentions... He wasn't looking to intentionally hurt his opponent.. Watch it again. Look him— Renzo_Gracie_BJJ (@RenzoGracieBJJ) October 15, 2013
In case you want to, in Gracie's vernacular "look him" again with your own two eyes, click here and judge Palhares' actions for yourself.
Gracie wasn't done defending Palhares with the NHB code of honor, however.
We are in a fight business.. If we will begin a witch hunt the intensity of our sport will be gone.. We are suppose to get hurt...— Renzo_Gracie_BJJ (@RenzoGracieBJJ) October 15, 2013
While nobody wants to see a fist fight where the violence is ratcheted down to the level of a pillow fight, I'm not sure putting an opponent at risk for potentially career-ending knee ligament tears -- after he has already given up -- falls under the purview of acceptable risk in combat sports.
Then again, perhaps the following machismo-drenched tweet gives you a better idea where Renzo is coming from.
I'm extremely piss... That I will end the rest of my days with all my teeth in my mouth. Makes me question if I really fought the great ones— Renzo_Gracie_BJJ (@RenzoGracieBJJ) October 15, 2013
It takes a special kind of man to regret the lack of gaps in his smile.
As phenomenal as that quote admittedly is, one has to wonder if Gracie would have the same forgiving attitude toward Palhares if he had been caught in that heel hook and put at the risk of significant damage, rather than Pierce, especially considering his arm went snap, crackle, pop against Kazushi Sakuraba over a decade ago in PRIDE.
Of course, Renzo does have a point though, when he mentions the thin line professional fighters have to walk when it comes to flipping the switch from relentless aggression to professional poise on the drop of a dime.
@JoshGrossESPN true Josh.. But we get be careful, if they don't bring intensity they get fired, if they do.. They get fired.. It's a fight— Renzo_Gracie_BJJ (@RenzoGracieBJJ) October 15, 2013
There's never a dull moment on Gracie's Twitter, so be sure to follow him for more of his unique wit, wisdom, and real time accounts of vigilante justice on the mean streets of New York.