(The question is, which weight class will Royce fight under? Photo: UFC.com)
CagePotato.com received word over the weekend from a source close to the situation that Royce Gracie has cancelled the European leg of his spring seminar tour and that the official reason given to the group organizing his UK appearances (NJM promotions) is that the UFC Hall-of-Famer has accepted an offer from the promotion to fight on its August 27 card in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
According to NJM, Gracie’s manager, Mike Kogan revealed the news to them, which was relayed to the seminar host gyms in an effort to explain why the 44-year-old UFC 1, 2 and 4 tournament winner would not be able to make his scheduled appearances in England.
When contacted by us today via email to ask if Royce has indeed signed on to fight on the card, and if so, whom he will face, Kogan did not deny the stated reason for his client pulling out of his European tour, but said that nothing is official YET.
“We are talking about fighting in August,” Kogan confirmed. “Nothing is locked down, no.”
No potential opponents have been named for his possible return to the Octagon, but a few names come that with pre-built story lines would make sense.
Following his UFC 60 loss to Matt Hughes in 2006, Gracie expressed his desire to rematch the former UFC welterweight champ, explaining that he overtrained for the bout and didn’t perform as expected as a result, so a rematch would make sense, but there are at least two other opponents that would make sense, especially for a card set in Brazil.
With BJ Penn‘s past history with Royce’s cousins Ralph, who calls “The Prodigy” a traitor for leaving him to train at Nova Uniao before calling out his brother Renzo for a 2005 K-1 bout, that’s another grudge match that wouldn’t take much marketing to sell. A third possible scenario would see the UFC sign Kazushi Sakuraba to face Gracie in a heavily-anticipated rubber match. In their last fight — a June 2007 Dynamite!! USA bout in California, Royce defeated “The Gracie Killer” by unanimous decision, but subsequently tested positive for the anabolic steroid Nandralone. He has disputed the test results for the past four years, claiming that the accusation that he uses PEDs is preposterous as he weighs just two pounds more than he did when he made his UFC debut in 1993. Sakuraba defeated Royce in 2000 by TKO and has beaten Royler, Renzo and Ryan Gracie, which is how he earned his nickname.
Considering that the show is nearly five months away and that there are a number of other suitable opponents from Dan Hardy to Mike Swick whose stock in the Octagon would benefit from a fight with a legend like Gracie, it’s likely that we won’t know until April or May if and whom Royce will fight on the card.