Eddie Bravo put on an extraordinary performance at Metamoris 3 last month, dominating Royler Gracie with an overwhelming number of sweeps, passes, and submission attempts. Bravo is the most innovative figure in Jiu-Jitsu, and proved not just the remarkable efficacy of his unique style, but far beyond that, proved that grappling can be exciting.
Metamoris needed a riveting match to prove that jiujitsu can be compelling for a television audience, and they got it from Eddie Bravo, at age 43, and Royler Gracie, at age 48.
The match began as did many of them, with Bravo pulling half guard. Royler played a heavy top game, but could not get past Bravo's quarter guard, which was aided by Bravo's gi pants. After about the eight minute mark, Bravo became aggressive, and began to attack, using textbook (literally) Eddie Bravo Half Guard techniques.
Bravo went from Quarter Guard to Lockdown, repeatedly landed the Electric Chair, and ended up with a Vaporizer that would have shredded the knee of any normal world-class grappler.
However, Royler saw a different fight.
MMAFighting's Guilherme Cruz has the story.
"How did he win the fight? You can’t win if you didn’t submit the other guy," said Gracie. "That’s not how it works. He went there and just holds me. I’m not criticizing him. I’m almost 50 and I did well in there, so I also can say I feel like I won the fight.
"I didn’t see anything special from his game, again. I only saw him holding me, but who am I to criticize other’s games? I have to see my own game. In this tournament, you only win if you submit, so how can he say he won the fight if he didn’t submit me? I dominated the first 10 minutes of the fight, but it’s not a 10-minute fight and doesn’t have points, so I can’t say I won because of that."
"I really enjoyed the fight. I had a good start, dominated from the top for the first eight minutes. Eddie came prepared to counter attack, holding me, and he did that pretty well. He swept me, passed the guard went to side control, and I came back to top position again. We had our good moments in the fight. He created some good positions and some people thought he would submit me, but you don’t submit people with those positions. It’s a game completely different from the normal jiu-jitsu game.
"It’s a 20-minute fight with no points, so we can take risks we normally can’t in a regular 10-minute jiujitsu match. I heard some people say that he would have won if it had points, but it would have been a completely different fight with points, we would have had different strategies."
The first match between Gracie and Bravo ended in Eddie's favor, via a tap out to triangle, but Royler doesn't give his opponent much credit for that one, either.
"I still think that that fight was more a mistake from my side. He obviously had the merits to get there and submit me, but I’m sure that it was my fault. It’s an individual sport, so if you blink you have to pay the price. I was better prepared this time, I knew what he would do, so it helped me, even thought he got me in some positions. But the fight was pretty close."
Will there be a trilogy match?
"That’s not in my plans today, but it’s always possible," said Gracie. "This rematch settled it, or not? It left that taste in the mouth. Would I tap him? Would he tap me? That’s what makes it intriguing for the fans, it makes them want to watch Royler fight again. It’s awesome. I would like to, but that’s not in my plans now."
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Among traditional martial artists, there remains a large number of practitioners who still believe that their approach is superior for combat. To hold this belief, to think that you do not need to know how to fight on the ground for example, requires a nearly unfathomable, willful blindness.
Ironically, among some members of the Gracie family, it appears a similar pattern has taken hold.
At UFC 162 on July 6 last year, Roger Gracie lost a one-sided, three-round decision to Tim Kennedy, in a fight that saw Kennedy land 54 of 92 punches thrown, while Roger landed just 12 of 29.
Afterwards, UFC Hall of Famer Royce Gracie argued that the reason Gracie family fighters are not doing well is actually because they are cross training.
"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."
Royler was right in that there were no points at Metamoris. However, as the saying goes, the uniforms and the rules may change, but it's all wrestling. Wrestling is humankind's oldest sport, and regardless of the point system or lack of one, it always comes down to a almost biblical standard - "Whose will be done?"
Eddie Bravo pulled a Quarter Guard, patiently worked to a Lockdown, and then put on a 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu clinic, with a domination series of sweeps, passes, and submissions, that would have crippled nearly any other grappler on the planet.
Eddie Bravo imposed his will on Royler Gracie. There is nothing wrong with losing. The only way to never lose is to never compete (or to be Rickson but that's another story). But there is something wrong with refusing to acknowledge reality.
The debt that martial arts owes to the Gracie family is incalculable. Their ground technique and reliance on refining technique through no rules fighting has influenced martial arts more than anything, ever. Thus these recent remarks shouldn't arouse anger so much as bewilderment, and genuine sadness.