Rickson Gracie – The Undefeated MMA Legend

Rickson Gracie – The Undefeated MMA Legend

1. Rickson Gracie’s Details

Name Rickson Gracie
Pro MMA Record 11-0-0 (Win-Loss-Draw)
Nickname Bear / The Last Samurai
Date of Birth 21-11-1958
Age 63
Height 5’10”
Weight 84 kg ( 185 lbs)
Born Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Nationality Brazilian
Last Fight May 26, 2000, at C2K: Colosseum
Weight Division Middleweight
Career Disclosed Earning $5 Million
Fought out of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Foundation Style Gracie Jiu-Jitsu
Rank 9th Degree Red Belt in BJJ
Lineage Mitsuyo Maeda –> Carlos Gracie –> Helio Gracie –> Rickson Gracie
Team Association Gracie Jiu-Jitsu
Favorite Position/Technique RNC

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2. Rickson Gracie’s Biography

Rickson Gracie is a retired mixed martial arts (MMA) artist and a 9th-degree red belt in BJJ. He is the third oldest son of Grand Master Helio Gracie (the co-founder of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu) and a brother to Relson Gracie and Rorion Gracie.

In the 1980s and 1990s, Rickson Gracie helped put his family’s grappling trade on the map as a well-known and genuine fighting style by participating in multiple Vale-Tudo battles. He was considered the best fighter of the Gracie Clan during that period.

After the release of the wonderful documentary, “Choke,” Rickson Gracie became a sensation in the MMA scene as well.

In November 2014, Rickson was also added to the Legends of MMA Hall of Fame along with Pat Miletich, Big John McCarthy, and Fedor Emelianenko.

2.1. Rickson Gracie’s Early Life and Amateur Fighting

Born on November 20, 1958, in Rio de Janeiro Brazil, Rickson Gracie spent most of his childhood on the mats. He entered his first competition at the age of six .

Helio recognized Rickson’s talent from an early age and trained him to be the next representative of the Gracie family in the fighting world, following in the footsteps of his father.

Rickson always considered himself as a Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Practitioner rather than an MMA athlete. He was proud of the fact that he did not cross-train in other forms of martial arts to compete against the best.

At the age of 18, Rickson was awarded a black belt from his father, Helio Gracie.

2.2. Rickson Gracie’s Pro MMA Career

Fights against Rei Zulu

In 1980, Rickson competed against Rei Zulu, a 220-pound Brazilian brawler who weighed more than Rickson at that time. Zulu was a huge fighter and everyone in Brazil was afraid of facing him. But Rickson accepted the challenge and successfully defeated Zulu via submission in the third round.

Zulu asked for a rematch in 1984, but Rickson won the second fight again by beating Zulu via choke hold in the second round.

World Jiu-Jitsu Champion

After two consecutive wins against Rei Zulu, the world took notice and Rickson Gracie became one of the greatest fighters in the history of the Gracie family at the age of 25.

For about two decades, Rickson reigned as the World Jiu-Jitsu Champion in both the open and middleweight divisions.

Establishment of Rickson Gracie Academy

In 1989, Rickson moved to America to assist his brother Rorion in establishing their first Jiu-Jitsu Academy in Torrance, California.

Japan Vale Tudo

In 1994, Rickson accepted an invitation to compete in Japan, seeing it as a great way to promote his family’s reputation outside of Brazil and with a nice money award in sight.

"Vale Tudo Japan 1994" was the name of the 8-men tournament and Rickson devastatingly won this premier fighting tournament, submitting all of his opponents in one night.

Rickson again won the 1995 Japan Vale Tudo and continued to fight in Japan, winning several more fights, all by submission, and maintaining an undefeated record.

Due to these remarkable performances, the Japanese fans paid Rickson a huge compliment and acknowledged that Rickson Gracie possessed the “Samurai Spirit.”

Match against Yoji Anjo

As a result of Rickson’s spectacular triumphs, some Japanese fighters felt that their country and martial arts traditions had been dishonoured.

Nobuhika Takada, a Japanese pro wrestler, publicly challenged Rickson, but the Brazilian chose to disregard the challenge, adding to the Japanese Tension.

Soon after that, Takada’s student Yoji Anjo travelled to California and challenged Rickson to reclaim his people’s pride. Rickson accepted the challenge. Despite Anjo’s best efforts to convince him to compete in a Japanese promotion, Rickson refused and insisted on fighting then and there, behind the closed door away from the media.

Rickson said his most famous comment as Yoji grudgingly accepted the terms:

“If we fight for money, I’ll stop hitting you when you ask me to. If we fight for honour, I’ll stop hitting you when I feel like it.”

Although having the opportunity to quickly defeat Yoji, Rickson chose to make a statement against the Japanese by thrashing him. The Gracie family preserved the video of the fight and it was never made public.


In 1997, Rickson Gracie returned to the Tokyo Dome and competed against Nobuhiko Takada (Yoji Anjo’s superior) at the Pride 1 in front of 47,860 spectators.

Rickson defeated Nobuhiko Takada via submission by locking him in the armbar in the first round.

Rickson was proposed to compete against Mario Sperry at Pride 3, but the fight was stopped due to Carlson Gracie’s denial. Akira Maeda (Fighting Network’s Rings’ Chairman) also challenged Rickson to fight in his retirement match, but it was rejected.

In 1998, Rickson agreed to face Takada again at the Pride 4, stating that Takada is a warrior and he deserves a chance to redeem himself.

Although Takada displayed a good performance, Rickson defeated him again via armbar submission in the first round.

The Colosseum

In the year 2000, Kazushi Sakuraba (The Gracie Hunter) challenged Rickson for a fight after defeating Royler Gracie at Pride 8 event, but nothing came out of it.

Instead, Rickson competed against Masakatsu Funaki at the Colosseum event in May 2000. About 30 million television viewers watched this final against Japan’s number one fighter, Masakatsu. Rickson won by a rear-naked choke in the first round.

Match against Kazushi Sakuraba

After the Colosseum event, Rickson was proposed by the Pride management to compete against Kazushi Sakuraba, who was known as “The Gracie Hunter” since he had defeated every Gracie family member he fought.

Rickson refused to fight against Kazushi stating that he does not have a warrior’s spirit. Consequently, Rickson was invited by New Japan Pro Wrestling to fight against Shinya Hashimoto or Kazuyuki Fujita, but they were also refused.

2.3. Rickson Gracie’s Retirement

Rickson was set to compete against Ogawa in 2001, but sorrow befell the Gracie family when Rickson’s son, Rockson Gracie, died in December 2000.

Saddened by this tragic loss, Rickson announced his retirement in 2006 and the event fell off after some negotiations.

Rickson was distraught, and he quit training for a long time as a result. Though Rickson never competed again, he resumed training and coaching, primarily to keep the family heritage alive and to turn his other son, Kron, into a Gracie megastar in the grappling world.

2.4. Post Retirement Journey

Even after retiring in 2006, Rickson Gracie focused all of his energy on spreading the art of Jiu-Jitsu. He clearly stated that his major focus will be to give seminars on BJJ and try to develop Brazilian Jiu-Jitsuas his father Helio saw it:

“Not only a fighting tool but also a social tool, to give confidence to children, women and physically weak individuals by giving them the ability to defend themselves.”

Debut at Jiu-Jitsu Global Federation

In July 2014, Rickson debuted as the face of a new Jiu Jitsu organization, the Jiu-Jitsu Global Federation (site), which aims to return jiu-jitsu to its fighting roots rather than the sport-specific approach it has taken in recent years.

Receiving Red Belt

The same organization awarded Rickson his red belt three years later in July 2017.

2.5. Rickson Gracie’s Publications

Hikuson Gureishi Shashinshu: Rickson Gracie 21st Century Warrior’s Spirit

Rickson Gracie published his first private book, “Hikuson Gureishi Shashinshu: Rickson Gracie 21st Century Warrior’s Spirit” in the year 2000.

This is a powerful book, full of fighting, sweat, courage, spirit, loneliness, and love for family.

The book also comes with a DVD of the appendix in which viewers can see the beauty of his training methods and physical movements in detail.

Breathe: A Life in Flow

Rickson Gracie published his second book in 2021 that illustrates Gracie’s life journey and his stunning career along with a larger history of the Gracie family’s dynasty.

This book also throws light on how the connection between body and mind can be harnessed for success both outside and inside the ring.

2.6. Where is Rickson Gracie Now?

Currently, Rickson teaches special seminars and classes to spread and further refine his family’s legacy. He is serving as the president of Jiu-Jitsu Global Federation, Rickson Gracie Academy, and Rickson Gracie Cup, whose goal is to restore the effectiveness of Jiu-Jitsu and enhance its popularity by offering a real representation of the BJJ art, culture, and traditions.

His techniques are still considered to be the finest expression of the Gracie Family Jiu-Jitsu.

Personal Life: 

Rickson Gracie married twice in his life and he has four children: Rockson Gracie (expired), Kaulin, Kauan, and Kron Gracie.

2.7. Rickson Gracie’s Historic Fights

Rickson Gracie Vs Rei Zulu

In 1980, Rickson Gracie became a legend by beating the famous Vale Tudo fighter, Rei Zulu.

Waldemar Santana, who had defeated Helio in a historic Vale Tudo match, once asked if Gracies had anybody in their class who could compete with Santana’s student Rei Zulu.

Rei Zulu was a massive fighter with exceptional athletic abilities who went undefeated in the NHB (no hold barred) record. No one else in Brazil was willing to fight him, and Waldemar, who was also Zulu’s promoter, was having trouble finding suitable opponents for his fighter.

The family's prominent figure at the time, Rolls Gracie, was thrilled at the prospect to fight Zulu, but Helio had his own son in mind. At that time, Rickson was 18 years old and weighed roughly 20 kg less than Zulu, but he accepted his father’s decision.

The match took place in front of Rei Zulu’s home crowd in Brasilia. Although Rickson was not feeling well, he remained true to his father’s words and won the match in the third round using the Rear Naked Choke(RNC).

Four years later in 1984, Zulu requested a rematch with Rickson. This time, the fight took place at Maracanazinho, an arena with 40,000 seats, where Rickson again won the match via choke hold in the second round.

Year Event  Opponent W/L/D Method Stage Weight Class
1984 Independent promotion Rei Zulu W Submission (rear-naked choke) R1 NA
1980 Independent promotion Rei Zulu W Submission (rear-naked choke) R1 NA

Rickson Gracie Vs Masakatsu Funaki

Rickson fought the last match of his professional career in 2000 against Masakatsu Funaki, the famous Japanese fighter, and achieved a historic win by RNC in the first round of the Colosseum.

The match took place at the Tokyo Dome where both fighters started by clinching the corners. Funaki attacked with a guillotine choke, but Rickson was able to escape since the hold was loose. Then Rickson blew out Masakatsu’s injured knee with well-timed up-kicks after trading kicks for a while.

Both of them clinched again, but Funaki was unable to fight back due to his injury and was taken by Gracie who quickly mounted him. The Japanese were stunned as the Brazilian hit Funaki’s face with ground and pound, finally finishing the match with a rear-naked choke.

Year Event  Opponent W/L/D Method Stage Weight Class
2000 C2K: Colosseum Masakatsu Funaki W Technical Submission (rear-naked choke) R1 Heavyweight

3. Rickson Gracie’s Main Achievements

  • 9th Degree Red Belt in BJJ
  • Undefeated in BJJ and NHB (No Hold Barred)
  • Unbeaten in MMA with 11-0 record
  • Founder of Rickson Gracie Academy
  • Published two books

4. Rickson Gracie’s Professional Record Breakdown

4.1. MMA

Professional Record Breakdown
11 Matches 11 Wins 0 Losses
By Points 0 0
By Submission 9 0
By TKO 2 0

Submission Methods W/L
Methods 9 Wins  0 Losses
Armbar 2 0
RNC 7 0

4.2. BJJ

Professional Record Breakdown
8 Matches 8 Wins 0 Losses
By Points 0 0
By Submission 8 0
By Decision 0 0

Submission Methods W/L
Methods 8 Wins  0 Losses
Armbar 3 0
RNC 1 0
Exhaustion 1 0
Choke 3 0

5. Rickson Gracie’s Fight History

5.1. MMA Fight History

Year Event Opponent W/L/D Method Stage Weight Class
2000 C2K: Colosseum Masakatsu Funaki W Technical Submission (rear-naked choke) R1 Heavyweight
1998 Pride 4 Nobuhiko Takada W Submission (armbar) R1 Heavyweight
1997 Pride 1 Nobuhiko Takada W Submission (armbar) R1 Heavyweight
1995 Vale Tudo Japan 1995 Yuki Nakai W Submission (rear-naked choke) R1 Heavyweight
1995 Vale Tudo Japan 1996 Koichiro Kimura W Submission (rear-naked choke) R1 Heavyweight
1995 Vale Tudo Japan 1997 Yoshihisa Yamamoto W Technical Submission (rear-naked choke) R3 Heavyweight
1994 Vale Tudo Japan 1994 Bud Smith W Submission (punches) R1 NA
1994 Vale Tudo Japan 1995 Dave Levicki W Submission (punches) R1 NA
1994 Vale Tudo Japan 1996 Yoshinori Nishi W Submission (rear-naked choke) R1 NA
1984 Independent promotion Rei Zulu W Submission (rear-naked choke) R1 NA
1980 Independent promotion Rei Zulu W Submission (rear-naked choke) R1 NA

5.2. BJJ Fight History

Year Event Opponent W/L/D Method Stage Weight Class
1988 V Copa Company - Absolute Joe Moreira W Submission (Choke) F ABS
1988 V Copa Company - Light Heavyweight Joe Moreira W Submission (Choke) F 86 kg
1986 Independent promotion Rigan Machado W Submission (Rear-Naked Choke) SPF ABS
1986 III Copa Company Rigan Machado W Submission (Exhaustion) F ABS
1984 LINJJI Otavio Peixotinho W Submission (Armbar) F ABS
1981 AABB Sergio Penha W Submission (Choke) SF ABS
1981 AABB Sergio Penha W Submission (Armbar) NA 86 kg

6. Rickson Gracie’s Top Fight Links

Photo Credit: @egjjf

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