Cesar Gracie - Best MMA Fighter & Coach

Cesar Gracie - Best MMA Fighter & Coach

In the world of mixed martial arts, very few names command the level of respect and admiration that Cesar Gracie does. A member of the renowned Gracie family that introduced Brazilian jiu-jitsu to the world, Gracie has garnered a highly-respected reputation for his exceptional fighting and coaching skills. No one can argue that Cesar Gracie has left his mark on the martial arts world. Whether you are a BJJ enthusiast or not, there is much about the man you may not know about beyond his connection to the Gracie family. In this article, you will learn about Cesar Gracie's life, achievements, fights, personal journey, impact on BJJ, and legacy as a fighter and coach.

1. Cesar Gracie Details

Cesar Gracie Details
Name Cesar Gracie
Nickname N/A
Born Brazil
Age 57
Date of Birth 1966
Weight 181 lbs (82.1 KG)
Weight Division Middleweight
Last Weigh-in N/A
Height  5'10"
Foundational Style BJJ & MMA
College University N/A
Career Disclosed Earnings N/A
Rank   Black Belt
Head Coach Rorion Gracie
Last Fight MMA Event, Strikeforce - Shamrock vs. Gracie in 2006
Favorite Technique N/A
Lineage Mitsuyo Maeda > Carlos Gracie Sr. > Robson Gracie > Cesar Gracie
Team Association  Gracie Elite Team
Cesar Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy

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2. Cesar Gracie Biography

Cesar Gracie was born in 1966 in Brazil. He was the son of Sonja Gracie-Gronning, who was related to Carlos Gracie Sr. Living with his mother after his parents separated, Cesar spent much of his childhood learning about grappling under the guidance of his Gracie family members. Due to being exposed to martial arts so early in his life, his passion for combat sports burned at a young age and fueled his desire to leave his mark on the martial arts world.

From childhood to early adulthood, Cesar traveled back and forth between the United States and Brazil. He settled into the United States with his mother during the 1970s and enlisted in the Marines when he came of age. After his service, Cesar returned to Brazil to continue his BJJ training and hone his skills. He finally came back to the United States to stay permanently in the 1990s.

3. Introduction to Martial Arts

Cesar's martial arts journey began in his early childhood when he started by learning judo. However, under his uncle, the legendary Rorion Gracie, Cesar found his true passion in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and started training at the Gracie Academy in California established by Rorion Gracie in the early 1980s. A dedicated student, Cesar earned his BJJ black belt and expanded his skillset by adding Muay Thai, boxing, and wrestling to his repertoire.

4. Starting His BJJ Journey in the 1990s

Cesar officially started his BJJ journey during the early 1990s, participating in numerous tournaments and quickly earning acclaim in the BJJ community. Demonstrating his remarkable skill, he secured his first significant victory at the Gracie Open in 1992. The same year Robson Gracie elevated Cesar Gracie to the black belt level. With his sights set on conquering new challenges, Cesar triumphed in subsequent tournaments like the Pan American Championships and the Brazilian National Championships.

5. Cesar Gracie’s MMA Career

Encouraged by his achievements in Brazilian jiu-jitsu competitions, Cesar decided to go into MMA. His MMA career started in 1998 at the IFC Warriors Challenge, where he submitted his first opponent, Cameron Earle. As time passed, Cesar showcased his talents at several events, such as Pride Fighting Championships, Strikeforce, and the UFC.

6. Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Debut

Cesar Gracie debuted for the Ultimate Fighting Championship in 2006, at the age of 40. In the Strikeforce event held in HP Pavilion, San Jose, California, Cesar faced a seasoned MMA fighter, Frank Shamrock and lost the fight in the first round via knockout (KO-punches). Even though Cesar lost the fight, this bout is considered one of the epic fights of Cesar's career.

7. Coach of the Year Nomination

Cesar Gracie had established the Team Gracie Fighter Jiu-Jitsu in 1992 after acquiring his black belt. The academy rose to prominence after 2005, due to the success of Skrap Pack. Before signing the Jake Shields’ UFC in 2010, the Cesar Gracie Jiu-Jitsu fighters became champions in three of the five weight divisions in the Strikeforce promotion event. This high achievement led to Cesar Gracie’s nomination for the Coach of the Year award in 2010 at World MMA Awards.

8. Historic Fight

8.1. Frank Shamrock Vs. Cesar Gracie

The showdown between Frank Shamrock and Cesar Gracie at the 2006 Strikeforce remains one of the most memorable fights in MMA history. Shamrock was widely regarded as one of the pioneers of MMA, showcasing his athleticism and well-rounded style. Known for his lightning-fast strikes and impeccable grappling, Shamrock entered the bout as the reigning middleweight champion, eager to defend his title with unwavering ferocity. Opposite him stood Gracie, a formidable Brazilian jiu-jitsu specialist renowned for his ground game. With a reputation for being an expert in submission techniques, Gracie aimed to claim the title of champion.

When the bell rang, dans worldwide watched in awe as the two warriors engaged in a relentless battle, exchanging takedowns and grappling maneuvers. Each round brought forth a display of skill, heart, and sheer determination. Towards the end, when both fighters had been pushed to their limits, Shamrock emerged triumphant, utilizing his diverse skill set to secure a victory via submission. The win solidified Shamrock's status as a true MMA icon, etching his name in the history books.

Year Event  Opponent W/L/D Method Timing Round Weight Class Location
2006 UFC Strikeforce Frank Shamrock Loss KO Punches 0:21 1 Middleweight San Jose, California

9. Cesar Gracie's Accomplishments

9.1. The Rise of Team Gracie Fighter

Since its establishment in 1992 by Cesar, Team Gracie Fighter has emerged as a formidable force in MMA. Located in Pleasant Hills, California, this renowned team has had numerous top-level fighters among its ranks. Its most notable members are Nick Diaz, Nate Diaz, and Gilbert Melendez.

Cesar was pivotal to the team's success as he used his natural talent for coaching to teach and improve each MMA fighter’s technique, performance, and strategy. His impact extends beyond his nephews, Nick and Nate Diaz, as he has shaped some of the world's most accomplished fighters.

10. Notable Fighters of Cesar Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy

Listed below are notable fighters who trained at Cesar Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy:

10.1. Bret Bergmark

Bret Bergmark is a fighter with previous history competing in the WEC, Strikeforce, and Pancrase. Shortly after becoming a member of Cesar’s academy, he won his first MMA fight against Paul Ano at Warriors Quest 6. His Strikeforce debut in 2010 ended in victory against Vagner Rocha in the welterweight division. Bergmark has training in BJJ and Muay Thai, being a brown belt in the former.

10.2. Cody McKenzie

Though Cody McKenzie had been participating in official competitions since 2007, he truly made his mark in the MMA world when he joined the Ultimate Fighting Competition. One of the participants in the competition between Team GSP vs. Team Koscheck, McKenzie made it to the quarterfinals on behalf of Team GSP before he lost at the hands of Nam Fan of Team Koscheck. He made his official UFC debut defeating Aaron Wilkinson at the Ultimate Fighter: Team GSP vs. Team Koscheck Finale.

10.3. Leslie Smith

Leslie Smith is a talented bantamweight fighter who initially found success in the Invicta Fighting Championship. She made her debut at Invicta FC 1, the inaugural event of this tournament. Smith quickly made a name for herself as a tough and determined competitor. After Invicta FC 7, Smith transitioned to and fought for the UFC from 2014 to 2018. As of now, she is currently fighting matches at Bellator MMA.

10.4. Gil Castillo

Gil Castillo is a veteran of the UFC, WEC, and King of the Cage. His career began in 1997, his first major victory being crowned King of the Cage Middleweight Superfight Champion in 2001. After defeating Nate Marquardt at the IFC Welterweight Championship, Castillo was invited to the UFC. After competing from UFC 33 to UFC 35, Castillo moved on to the WEC in 2003. His last fight ended in a loss via TKO against Jake Ellenberger in 2006.

10.5. Nate Diaz

Nate Diaz, a household name in the MMA world, has a history of competing in World Extreme Cagefighting, Strikeforce, Pancrase, and the UFC. He was also the winner of Ultimate Fighter Season 5. Known for his relentless fighting style, crisp boxing technique, and exceptional Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu skills, Nate has become a fan favorite.

10.6. Nick Diaz

Nick Diaz, the older brother of Nate Diaz, is a renowned UFC middleweight fighter. With an aggressive fighting style and an impressive skill set combining striking and grappling, Nick has earned accolades in various competitions, including Strikeforce, WEC, and IFC. He has also been a participant in PRIDE, EliteXC, DREAM, and Shooto.

10.7. David Douglas

David Douglas, a talented MMA fighter and boxer, has competed in Strikeforce, EliteXC, and ShoXC. Also known by his nickname, “Tarzan,” Douglas has faced fighters like Justin Wilcox, Dominic Clark, and Nick Gonzalez.

10.8. Gilbert Melendez

Gilbert Melendez, or “El Nino,” is a prominent MMA fighter, two-time Strikeforce Lightweight Champion, and former WEC Lightweight Champion. He also has a history of fighting at Pride FC, Shooto, and Rumble on the Rock.

10.9. Dave Bautista

Dave Bautista, widely known for his successful career as a professional WWE wrestler, also trained under Cesar Gracie, Bautista, earning himself a purple belt. His first and only notable MMA fight was his victory against Vince Lucero via TKO at the CES MMA: Real Pain in 2012.

10.10. Daniel Roberts

Daniel Roberts is a skilled welterweight fighter that has a history of competing in the UFC, Pancrase, Titan FC, and Legacy FC. Taking part in professional competitions since 2007, he eventually took part in UFC tournaments from 2010 until 2012. His last fight was his loss against Akihiro Murayama via a split decision in 2015.

10.11. Jake Shields

Jake Shields is a decorated fighter with several titles in multiple competitions, including being the former Strikeforce Middleweight Champion, former Shooto Welterweight Champion, current Rumble on the Rock Welterweight Champion, and sole Elite XC Welterweight Champion. His most notable match was when he lost against George St. Pierre at the 2011 Welterweight Championship.

11. Legacy of Cesar Gracie

Cesar Gracie’s legacy stands as a testament to his unwavering dedication, remarkable skill, and indomitable spirit in the martial arts world. As a renowned BJJ practitioner and founder of the esteemed Cesar Gracie Academy, he has helped encourage countless individuals to follow their paths to achieving greatness in the professional BJJ and MMA stages.

Gracie's innovative approach to training and ability to adjust jiu-jitsu techniques helped make it easier for individuals to understand how to execute BJJ moves and create unique ways to use them in sparring or real matches. His approach to teaching helped create numerous elite fighters who managed to make themselves known in the UFC, Strikeforce, Invicta, and other competitions.

Gracie's commitment to fostering a tight-knit community of martial artists is also noteworthy. His academy has served as a hub for aspiring fighters, where camaraderie, respect, and discipline flourish. Gracie's leadership and mentorship have empowered his students to excel in their martial arts journey and grow as individuals, instilling values that extend beyond the mat.

Even now, Cesar Gracie continues to inspire younger generations of martial artists, reminding them of the importance of passion, perseverance, and innovation.

12. Cesar Gracie Professional MMA Record Breakdown

Cesar Gracie MMA Record Breakdown 
Matches - 01 Win - 00 Loss - 01
By Knockout 00 01

13. Cesar Gracie MMA Fight History

Year Event Opponent W/L/D Method Stage Weight Class
2006 UFC- Strikeforce Frank Shamrock L KO Punches 1 Middleweight

14. Cesar Gracie Top Fights Video Links

Frank Shamrock vs Cesar Gracie

Photo Credit: @cesargraciebjj

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