Royce Gracie, a top MMA fighter, recently shared his preference for the best martial arts fighter ever. Royce was asked this question in an interview with TalkSport and he gave a quite surprising response. Although Royce is a prominent personality in the UFC and is closely familiar with the majority of the fighters and their fighting capabilities, he still did not share the name of any UFC athlete. Royce seemed to avoid the extensive list of top fighters who have been performing in sports with extreme enthusiasm.
“It was my father; he was ahead of everybody.”
Without pondering, Royce knew that he was going to choose his father’s name, Helio Gracie's, as his pick for the greatest fighter of all time. Helio Gracie was one of the strongest martial artists and also the founder of the self-defense martial arts system of Gracie jiu-jitsu. Helio was undoubtedly at the apex of success even before the development of various renowned organizations such as the UFC. Despite his previous enthusiastic athletic record, Helio still participated in various competitions. The list of Helio’s battles is quite extensive from 1932 to 1967. Among all the bouts, only 19 are appropriately documented. Helio fought without the presence of any judges and scoring methodologies, holding a professional record of 9-2-8. Helio’s battles were also devoid of weight divisions and the majority of rules that are standard today. Royce Gracie also faced a similar situation in the UFC1 Championship and fully understands what it means to fight with any ground rules.
While talking about Helio and praising him, Royce further said:
“You see, it’s not the same way of fighting. You take all the rules out. No time limit, no gloves, no weight divisions, fighting three or four fights in one night.”
Moreover, Helio’s small stature further substantiated his remarkable victories against all odds. Royce highlighted this aspect of his father’s professional fighting career in the following words:
“You put a smaller guy and he defends himself against somebody bigger and stronger.”
Royce had a vivid vision regarding his father's name as the best fighter of all time as he said:
“He was way ahead. My father was way ahead of everybody, not as a fighter but as a self-defense style.”
Photo credit: @realroyce