It is widely held that MMA has developed from its Vale Tudo origins, drawing now from striking, BJJ, and wrestling. Some members of the Gracie family has been faulted at times for not keeping up with the changes in the sport.
However, in an interview with MMA Fighting's Guilherme Cruz last month, UFC Hall of Famer Royce Gracie took a contrarian stance, arguing that the reason Gracie family fighters are not doing well is actually because they are cross training. The interview followed Roger Gracie's one-sided, three-round decision loss to Tim Kennedy at UFC 162 in July, in a fight that saw Kennedy land 54 of 92 punches thrown, while Roger landed just 12 of 29.
"Jiu-jitsu is enough," said Royce. "I’ve trained boxing in the past to learn the distance, trained wrestling to understand how he would take me down, but I won’t get there to fight my opponent’s game. The guys from the family want to complement their game, like if jiu-jitsu was incomplete. I guess they forgot a little about history."
"Roger, like any other member of the family, is trying to learn wrestling, boxing. I believe in pure jiu-jitsu. That’s what I’ve done in the past. You have to go back to your roots and train Gracie jiu-jitsu."
Roger has trained at BJJ legend Renzo Gracie's academy in Manhattan, the most financially succesful martial arts school in America. Further, Renzo's school has helped turn out a vast number of champions, including Frankie Edgar, Matt Serra, Georges St-Pierre, and Chris Weidman among countless others.
In a recent apearance on Ariel Helwani's The MMA Hour, Renzo took issue with his cousin Royce's criticism, faulting the UFC Hall of Famer for failing to help school the next generation.
MMAFighting's Guilherme Cruz once again has the story.
"In order to make a negative comment about the Gracie family, you have to help the Gracie family," said Renzo. "You have to actually be producing new champions, putting your time to build new champions. I don’t remember Royce doing that."
"Each man chooses their path. How can I judge someone if I don't walk on their shoes? It's their comfort zones. Unfortunately, I cannot just sit and watch. Don't judge others with harsh word on situations that you didn't try to improve them. This is the portrait of life. People will claim that we forgot who we are, that we forgot jiu-jitsu. ... We didn't forget s---, man. We are 100% what we are. We live, eat and breathe what we do.
"Come train them, and then you're going to be able to evaluate the reality. Sometimes people move away from reality and start dreaming, and they start living in the dreamland, judging others by their dreams or believing what people tell them."
Renzo says he is not going to ask Royce why he has not helped the next generation of Gracies come up.
"I don’t need to ask, he probably asks himself that every day," said Renzo. "Why am I going to ask him that? A man knows what he should think. We were born with that privilege. If you're comfortable laying your head in the pillow thinking that what you’re doing is the right thing you do it, but don’t judge the others. Don’t come pointing fingers. I can talk bad about people because when they need me I'm there… I know how hard they work."
Renzo has a different understanding as to why the next generation of Gracies has not achieved the towering success of the first - they are no longer so hungry.
"You give them a life of a superstar," said Renzo. "They get what they want. They can do what they want. It's different. When I started fighting I didn't have shorts to use. I had to conquer. It's a different level of commitment back there."
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