It looks like Royce Gracie is angling hard for a retirement fight at UFC Rio:
Three-time UFC tournament champion and UFC Hall of Famer Royce Gracie (14-3-3 MMA, 11-1-2 UFC) is in continuing negotiations with the promotion to appear in a retirement fight at the Brazilian event, which is expected to take place Aug. 27 at HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro.
Mike Kogan, the U.S. representative for the Japan-based Fighting and Entertainment Group (FEG) and Gracie’s longtime manager, today informed MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) of the news.
Although negotiations are far from over, Kogan said he and Gracie are talking directly with UFC president Dana White and UFC executive Lorenzo Fertitta about the prospect of bringing the 44-year-old MMA legend back into the octagon one last name against a specific – but undisclosed – opponent.
“I think we’re going to make a deal,” Kogan said. “We have plenty of time, so there’s really no problems. It’s just a matter of getting it nailed down.”
So what’s the likelihood of this happening? I’d say it’s pretty low until we hear something from UFC brass that isn’t a polite but vague “Maybe.” Until then we don’t know if Gracie’s agent Kogan isn’t just throwing the idea out to the media in hopes that it will drum up some demand for his client getting several hundred thousand dollars to retire at a Brazilian UFC.
Sure, it’s an appropriate way for the first UFC great to go, but that ignores the fact that the last time he stepped into the Octagon he got a karmic bitchslap for jitzing all those unsuspecting martial artists in the form of Matt Hughes trapping him and smashing his face in. It was not exactly a heart-warming moment. The only thing Royce has done since is pop for steroids in a stalled out shitshow of a fight against Sakuraba in 2007.
So there’s a few choices: give him a legacy fight that he might stink up or let another young gun show him what a difference 18 years makes on the quality of an Ultimate Fighter. There’s also some dream matches the UFC could make – bring Sakuraba back for revenge; Royce vs Renzo would be legendary if they’d accept the warrior’s call; other Brazilian legends like Pele or Wallid Ismael could be cool too.
If Dana White taps into his inner fanboy, there’s all sorts of fun ways this could play out. But if he just drops Royce in against someone on the roster or an easy retirement opponent, count me out. I stopped caring about the legacy league when the fighters cared more about their legacy than the fight.