("I also want a twenty percent senior’s discount on all UFC merchandise and a scooter to get me to the Octagon.")
When the UFC announced it would be holding a press conference in Brazil to announce that the promotion would be returning to the South American birthplace of modern MMA to hold its first event since Ultimate Brazil on October 16, 1998, many were surprised to see UFC 1, 2 and 4 tournament champ Royce Gracie included in the festivities.
The fact that Royce was prominently positioned on the dais between fellow Brazilian MMA luminaries Mauricio "Shogun" Rua, Anderson Silva, Vitor Belfort and Jose Aldo didn’t rais any eyebrows, considering Gracie’s UFC Hall of membership and his family’s history with the promotion. It was the fact that the 44-year-old, who hasn’t competed since testing positive for steroids after his K-1 Dynamite!! USA bout with Kazushi Sakuraba in June 2007 revealed that he was interested in competing on the "UFC Rio" card.
In an interview he did with Sherdog yesterday, Gracie said that he is negotiating with the UFC to be included on the card, which will likely be at least half filled with Brazilian fighters.
According to Fighters Only who spoke to a source close to the situation, "it’s unlikely" that Gracie will be included on the card, but "anything is possible possible."
The fact that in his last UFC bout against Matt Hughes at UFC 60 in 2006, the aging legend earned $400,000 for his less-than-impressive performance doesn’t exactly help plead his case to be added to the August 27 card when you figure lightweight champ Frankie Edgar only earned $102,000 (which included a $51,000 win bonus) for his gutsy UFC 125 draw with Gray Maynard.
If he is signed to fight on the card, the question is, who would he fight?
The obvious choice would be to match him up against a legend like Pele or Sakuraba as a throwback to the old days of the UFC and PRIDE, but there’s no guarantee that the bout wouldn’t just look like two old guys fighting for a paycheck. What would be more appealing to most fans and pundits would be to have Royce fight one of the new breed of fighters like Thiago Alves, Rory MacDonald, Dan Hardy, Josh Koscheck or even BJ Penn to see if he still has the skill set to compete against adversity like he did in the early days of the sport.