Groundbreaking father aside, what does Royce Gracie consider his own personal legacy in the history of MMA to be?
[My legacy is being] the first UFC champion. The first man to win tournaments, three fights, four fights in one night. No refs, no time limit, no weight divisions. I fought Akebono, 6’8”, 490 lbs. I had the second longest fight in history; my father had the longest fight in the history of MMA. Mine was the second longest [at] an hour-and-a-half or an hour-and-45-minutes.
With all this talk about submissions, I reminded Gracie that he still holds the UFC record for most submission victories with 11. Does he consider himself to be the best submission specialist in UFC history?
“There’s a lot of guys out there who are good at submissions. Nick and Nate Diaz are very good. Anderson Silva, he does a lot of knockouts, but he has some submissions too. Jon Jones … You see, everybody’s practicing Jiu-Jitsu today. So it’s hard to say.”
And just what are Gracie’s thoughts on the Diaz brothers, who are Cesar Gracie students?
“Very good. I like the way they think. They actually remind me of my family a lot. Tough kids, don’t take bullshit from anybody. They’re here to fight. ‘You’re gonna beat me up? OK, beat me up man! I didn’t sign up to quit.’ So they don’t back down from a fight.”
How about UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones?
“Very good fighter. Big, man. The guy’s big for that division. And he walks around … It’s not like he walks around overweight. He’s already cut up. He walks around pretty much that way. The guy’s just a very good athlete. And he knows how to use strategy, that’s the main thing. The guys that are on top are the guys that know how to use strategy. He’s not just an athlete, he’s an athlete that knows the game, knows how to fight, and studies. I hear that he studies and learns from everybody, Jon Jones. You see he has an open mind to learn … so he’s gonna be a tough pick to beat.”
Royce Gracie Talks Jones, Diaz Brothers, Submissions and His Legacy; Says He’s ‘Pretty Much’ Retired