Royce Gracie battles Judo Olympian
In this special rules match, the legendary Royce Gracie tested himself against the Olympic-level judo of Hidehiko Yoshida. This was not a mixed martial arts bout, but a grappling bout with a special rule set that took place at PRIDE FC in 2002. The two were allowed to strike while standing up, but not on the ground. There was barely any stand-up as Gracie opened the fight with his signature low kick to clinch and the rest of the fight took place on the ground.
The two battled on the ground for more than seven minutes before Yoshida locked in a deep gi-choke from the top of half guard and the referee jumped into stop the bout, believing Gracie was unconscious. Gracie immediately came to his feet and protested the decision claiming he was fine.
The two re-matched a year later under full mixed martial arts rules. This time Gracie fought in gi-pants, but no top. Gracie dominated the fight by out grappling and out striking Yoshida on the ground, but the fight was declared a draw after neither fight had finished the other at the end of the second ten minute round.
About Royce Gracie
Royce Gracie was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and is one of nine children, seven of whom are boys. His training in Jiu-Jitsu began at a very early age as a game with his father Helio. He never pushed any of the children to take formal classes until they wanted to do so. However, they often went to the Academy in Rio after school and on weekends.
Royce began competing in tournaments at age eight. He received his blue belt at age 16 and was promoted to black belt in less than two years. Royce moved to the United States at age 18 to live with his brother, Rorion. They began teaching private classes out of their garage, sometimes for more than ten hours a day. Together they opened the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy 30 years ago in Torrance, California. Although Royce no longer teaches there because of his rigorous travel schedule, it remains one of the largest martial arts schools in the country.
Royce’s reputable career as a fighter began in 1993 after defeating three opponents in the first Ultimate Fighting Championship in Denver, Colorado. His brother Rorion came up with this innovative challenge as a way to show Gracie Jiu-Jitsu to the world. Discipline after discipline was defeated by the slight 6’1”, 180 pound Royce Gracie. The viewers were in awe.
About Hidehiko Yoshida
Hidehiko Yoshida (born September 3, 1969) is a Japanese gold-medalist judoka and retired mixed martial artist. He is a longtime veteran of Japan’s PRIDE Fighting Championships, competing in the Middleweight (93kg) and Heavyweight divisions. He won gold at the 1992 Summer Olympic Games at 78 kg.