Rickson Gracie is an absolute legend in both the worlds of BJJ and MMA but it is actually in the Vale Tudo arena where Rickson first got his start and a legend was born.
Though often reported as having some 400 fights in his career, it was his Vale Tudo fight in 1980 against Rei Zulu that is Rickson’s first official fight on the books and what a fight it was.
At the time in Brazil, Rei Zulu was a legendary figure in his own right who was also much larger than Rickson. Zulu weighed around 230lbs at the time and was very athletic while Rickson weighed around 185lbs, perhaps even less during their first fight as a young man.
Rickson won the fight via rear-naked choke but Zulu certainly gave him some trouble. The fight would become a part of BJJ as well as MMA history so naturally, a rematch would come to fruition some years later that Rickson would win as well with the same method – the rear-naked choke.
In this video, we see some footage of this legendary match-up and it really is incredible just physically how much larger Zulu is than Rickson here. Rickson’s skills were just simply way too much for him though.
This fight not only created a massive star and legendary figure in Rickson Gracie but also was a huge moment in the history of BJJ as well as MMA, specifically in Brazil where the reverberations of this fight are still felt to this day.
ABOUT RICKSON GRACIE:
Rickson Gracie (born November 21, 1958) is a Brazilian 8th-degree coral belt in Gracie Jiu-Jitsu and a retired mixed martial artist. He is a member of the Gracie family: the son of Hélio Gracie, brother to Rorion and Relson Gracie, and half-brother to Rolker, Royce, Robin, and Royler Gracie. In November 2014 he became an inductee of the Legends of MMA Hall of Fame, alongside Big John McCarthy, Pat Miletich, and Fedor Emelianenko. [Source: Wiki]