By Robert Rousseau
Recently, Inside MMA counted down their All Time Top 10 MMA Fighters. The top three fell like this:
1. Fedor Emelianenko
2. Randy Couture
3. Royce Gracie
Now you could make an argument that the order is appropriate. Further, you could say that any one of these fighters - Fedor Emelianenko, Randy Couture, or Royce Gracie - could conceivably be considered the best fighter to ever lace up and walk into an MMA ring or cage. But that's not what this article is about.
Here's the argument you might use if you were pushing Royce Gracie as the top MMA fighter of all time.
The argument for Royce Gracie as the top MMA fighter of all time
Royce Gracie in his prime:It's difficult to compare athletes whose primes happened in different time periods. The reason is simple-things change. In other words, all sports are evolving. The fighters are getting better at training, supplements and nutrition are improving, and in the case of MMA specifically, fighters are becoming more well- rounded. In fact, these days MMA fighters sometimes start out as MMA fighters.
Said another way, they may not evolve from a strictly wrestling background. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu may not summarize their background, nor Muay Thai for that matter, and because fighters are literally starting off at a younger age training in all areas of fighting these days the term 'mixed martial artist' is becoming a truer version of what is actually happening in EliteXC, the UFC, and Strikeforce.
But that shouldn't necessarily discount what Royce Gracie did in his prime.
From November 12, 1993 until April 7, 1995 Royce Gracie went a combined 11-1-1 in mixed martial arts competition. Further, he won three out of the first four UFC tournaments. At the time that meant defeating several people in one night with no judges, few rules, no weight classes, and no time limits.
Oh yeah, and that one loss? How about a fight that never happened against Harold Howard? Gracie was hurt in his victory over Kimo Leopoldo and was unable to even fight Howard, thus prompting a forfeit.
So in essence Royce Gracie was undefeated during his prime. Sure the fighters were nowhere near the level they are today at the time. Then again, now isn't Royce Gracie's prime.
Try to name someone that had a better one.
Royce Gracie and his impact on MMA:The bottom line is this-if you weigh impact on the sport of MMA highly when determining the greatest mixed martial arts fighter of all time then Royce Gracie is the greatest mixed martial arts fighter. After all, it was his family that started the UFC tournaments. On top of that, Gracie's ability to win three of the first four UFC tournaments against many times much bigger competition proved Brazilian Jiu Jitsu's worth.
Nowadays you can't even fight in MMA without some knowledge of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and Royce's family is the one that invented the art. Royce Gracie brought the world submissions, the guard, and even the triangle choke.
And that's impact. Big time.
Royce Gracie is one of the best ever at something in MMA - submissions : No matter what you think about whether he deserves to be considered the best MMA fighter of all time, it's hard to make an argument against him being one of the best submission fighters of all time. First, he introduced the world to submissions. Second, he put together some of the greatest submission wins of all time, including his triangle choke victory over Dan Severn before the masses even knew you could choke someone out utilizing your legs from your back. And finally, his 14-3-3 overall MMA record includes 12 submission wins.
In the end, there are several arguments one can make when trying to determine the greatest MMA fighter of all time. Keep checking in at Submit To MMA as we will make these for the fighters and you.
But when it comes to Royce Gracie as the top mixed martial arts fighter of all time, the argument is clearly about his stellar prime, unbelievable impact on the game, and submission skills. Oh yeah, and he's also one tough hombre.
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