"I have such a big family, sometimes, I was wondering, when is it going to be my turn?" Gracie said. "There's always a brother who's older, younger, bigger, stronger, faster, I was like, ‘hey, give me a chance guys.'"
Ultimately, Rorion Gracie chose Royce over Rickson, and the martial arts world would never be the same. Gracie won the inaugural UFC tournament at Denver's McNichols Arena, and though he had no idea at the time, he forever altered the combat sports landscape.
"Rickson was a little too big," Gracie said on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour, which commemorated the UFC's 19th anniversary. "So it wouldn't be as impressive, a 200 pounder beating up a 220. Me being 178 and beating up a 220 was a little more impressive."
Now 45, Gracie couldn't have known he was changing the course of combat sports history that night in Denver. But the now-retired legend is appreciate both for his legacy and for the growth of the sport his family helped launch.
"I knew [the UFC] was going to get big," Gracie said. "But what Dana White and the Fertitta brothers did, they turned it into inspiration for the new generation. Now, the news the kids, they grow up like baseball, like soccer. They grow up thinking one day I want to be baseball player, they want to be soccer player. Today, they train thinking they want to be UFC fighter. They start young now."
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