In the past few weeks there have been rumors of a possible Royce Gracie return to the octagon flying around the MMA community like the word “bro” on the Jersey Shore. Why this card? UFC 134 is Zuffa’s first return to Brazil since “Ultimate Brazil” in 1998 and practically all Brazilian fighters are currently pleading their case to fight on this monumental card. Who can blame them? Despite the large percentage of Brazilian UFC fighters, Zuffa has been avoiding Brazil like it has the plague and who knows how long it will be until they come back. Every fighter wants to fight in their home country.
Out of all the fighters begging for a spot, Royce Gracie has stood out in the media. He has presented his case and suggested that he is in talks with Dana White about picking an opponent. After watching Royce appear on Inside MMA, I was under the impression that he would absolutely be on that card. Right when the anticipation for the Gracie’s return was at its highest, it now appears that the first UFC tournament champion will not be stepping into the cage in Rio. Why you might ask? Dana White has yet to make a definitive statement about the fight so bring on the conspiracies.
In all seriousness, I believe Dana White’s intentions are actually in the right place this time. Royce Gracie has not fought since his last bout with Sakuraba in 2007. Also, Royce Gracie’s last UFC bout was a crushing defeat against Matt Hughes in 2006. Royce has subtly indicated that he would like to fight Hughes again. In the time since, Hughes has won decisions against Chris Lytle and Matt Serra, tko-ed Renzo Gracie, and choked unconscious Ricardo Almeida. Despite a quick knockout loss in Hughes’ last fight, I believe a rematch between Royce and Hughes would end in a similar fashion to their 2006 fight. There is no sense in watching a MMA legend and UFC hall-of-famer get torn to shreds in his home country.
But are we really the ones to judge what Royce wants to do with his own legacy? For all we know Royce has been studying Hughes for the past 5 years and has come up with the perfect game plan to submit him. Also, there is no reason that Joe Silva cannot find another more suitable opponent for Royce; the possibilities are endless. UFC 134 (Rio) is scheduled for late August and there is plenty of time to decide whether or not a comeback is appropriate. Let me know what you think. Anybody else feel like going to watch Rocky Balboa?
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