(Video courtesy of YouTube/StudioMMA/MMANYTT)
Our friends at MMANY.se passed along this recent interview they did with Rorian Gracie in which they spoke with the UFC co-founder about whether or not he had any regrets about selling off his stake in the company before it blew up in popularity.
“No, I don’t regret it at all. I’m happy that I’m no longer involved in this because it doesn’t reflect my vision for what I first came up with. Money-wise, it’s a big money-making venture, but for me it was always about much more than the money. It was the ability to showcase a fight that was for real. That’s what brought me to America. Thats what earned the respect for the Gracie name, is being able to fight against everybody and anybody at any time. Now that everybody has learned the system, of course it’s levelled the playing field. Everybody has learned jiu-jitsu and ultimately that’s what I’m happy with.”
Rorian’s vision, he explains was to have a competition that mimicked a real fight in which a fighter had to beat an opponent regardless of size and strength and without the interruption of a referee calling a break in the action or a round-ending bell ceasing momentum.
“There were no rules. There were no judges, no time limit, no points, no weight classes. Just two guys would walk in and one guy walks out. It was the real deal. That’s what made the show so exciting in the beginning. Of course today things have changed. In terms of expansion I knew it was going to be bigger than boxing as it is today. It doesn’t surprise me one bit. The reason I left the UFC was the implementation of rules. I disagreed with that and therefore I walked away from the show. I sold my part because I didn’t like the idea of being involved with a show that rules that you can do that but you can’t do this. It’s no longer the real deal. It’s an exciting process to see it grow like it did, but I don’t like the idea of some of the limitations that you have. What happens is, you see two guys fighting what should be a real fight and one person gets the other in a choke hold and the bell rings and you have to let go of the choke hold. What kind of fight is that? It doesn’t make sense to me, number one. Number two, the fact that you put gloves on isn’t to protect the person’s face. When you put gloves on it’s to protect the person’t hand. So it enables you to punch much harder than you normally would in a real fight. My idea always was to create an event that demonstrated what real fighting is. The Ultimate Fighting Championship today is a show, but it’s not a real fight. It’s a fight with a whole bunch of rules and so many people have learned to use the rules so they can win the event without being necessarily the best fighter. In my opinion [the introduction of rules and time limits] have changed and they’ve hindered more than it has helped.”
One artificial aspect of fighting in the style his family taught that he overlooked was the fact that, unless you were always wearing a gi in the streets, it was unlikely wearing one in competition would mimic a real fight (right Eddie Bravo?). Still, his intentions were true and they were to show the world that jiu-jitsu was one of the most effective forms of combat in real world fighting situations, which is true unless of course your opponent had a knife or a group of friends you had to contend with. In that case the ground would likely be the last place you would want the fight to go.
According to Rorian, who owns and operates Gracie Headquarters in California with his sons Ryron and Rener as well as several of the successful GJJ initiatives like their online training modules and Gracie combatives, the reason he chose to walk away from the historic upstart promotion when they were forced by athletic commissions to implement rules, the use of gloves and time limits.
“When I came to the States in 1978 I put some mats in my garage and while teaching students out of my garage it was not uncommon that some of the students would say, ‘Hey, my former karate instructor doesn’t believe in jiu-jitsu. He wants to fight you…or kung fu or taekwondo or whatever…and I said, ‘Bring him in.’ So we would have these challenge matches in my garage…That eventually inspired me to put on an event where you could put several different styles of martial arts against one another and the public could see what works. And the result ended up being the Ultimate Fighting Championship, which turned out to be an exciting opportunity for everyone.”