Rickson Gracie

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Rickson Gracie
Rickson gracie 20080608.jpg
Born (1958-11-21) November 21, 1958 (age 60)
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Other namesThe Last Samurai
Height5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)
Weight185 lb (84 kg; 13 st 3 lb)
DivisionMiddleweight (185 lb)
StyleGracie Jiu-Jitsu, [2]
Teacher(s)Helio Gracie, Rolls Gracie, Georges Mehdi [3]
Rank     9th degree red belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under his brother Rorion Gracie[1]
     Black belt in Judo[under Georges Mehdi]
Years active1980−1984, 1994−2000 (MMA)
Mixed martial arts record
By submission11
Mixed martial arts record from Sherdog

Rickson Gracie (Portuguese: [ˈʁiksõ ˈɡɾejsi]; born November 21, 1958) is a Brazilian 9th degree red belt in Gracie Jiu-Jitsu and a retired mixed martial artist.[2][3][4] He is a member of the Gracie family: the third oldest son of Hélio Gracie, brother to Rorion and Relson Gracie, and half-brother to Rolker, Royce, Robin and Royler Gracie.[5] In November 2014 he became an inductee of the Legends of MMA Hall of Fame, alongside Big John McCarthy, Pat Miletich, and Fedor Emelianenko.[6][7]


Rickson Gracie, son of Helio Gracie, received his black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu at age 18.[citation needed] At 20, Gracie won his first victory against the famous 230-pound (104 kg) Brazilian brawler Casemiro Nascimento Martins ("Rei Zulu"; father of "Zuluzinho"). With this victory, Rickson gained immediate national acclaim. Five years later Zulu requested a rematch and lost to Rickson again, in Maracanazinho before an audience of 20,000 spectators.[citation needed]

Rickson also famously fought luta livre exponent Hugo Duarte on the Rio de Janeiro beach. Duarte only wanted to fight in an event, but Gracie slapped him in front of his students and challenged him again, so Hugo stepped down and faced Rickson on the sand. Gracie won after making him surrender to punches to the face.[8] Shortly after, maintaining that Gracie students had kicked him and thrown sand to his eyes during the fight, Duarte came to Rickson's gym and demanded a rematch. Gracie won again, causing a riot which forced neighbours to call the police. Shortly after, Renzo Gracie challenged Eugenio Tadeu, another luta livre practitioner, and the two fought to a 50-minute draw.[8] The rivalry between Brazilian jiu-jitsu and luta livre continued without Rickson, as he left Brazil for the United States after the fight.

Vale Tudo Japan[edit]

In 1994, Rickson was contacted by Erik Paulson to compete in Satoru Sayama's event Vale Tudo Japan. Gracie traveled to Japan and participated in the tournament, firstly facing Daido-juku stylist Yoshinori Nishi. Gracie took him down and Nishi answered with a lockdown from half guard, but the Brazilian was able to pass his guard and catch him with a rear naked choke when Nishi turned his back. He later faced much larger wing chun practitioner Dave Levicki, but he was an even easier prey once taken down, and Rickson won by TKO after a flurry of punches. Gracie then fought American kickboxer Bud Smith at the finals, winning by the same method in even less time and getting the tournament's victory. The same year, pro wrestler Yoji Anjo came to Rickson's dojo to challenge him, after failed negotiations about Gracie wrestling for Union of Wrestling Force International. Gracie was the faster in the fight and performed abundant ground and pound on Anjo, who did not surrender, so Gracie choked him unconscious.

A year later, Gracie was invited again to the next Vale Tudo Japan. In the first round he faced pro wrestler Yoshihisa Yamamoto from Fighting Network Rings, who unlike Rickson's previous opponents managed to keep him away from the mat by using the ropes and even tried a guillotine choke. However, Gracie eventually took him down and choked him. He squared against another pro wrestler in the form of Koichiro Kimura, swiftly defeating him, then met shoot wrestler Yuki Nakai at the finals. Nakai, who was almost blind from an earlier match against Gerard Gordeau, put up strong resistance to Rickson, but the Brazilian master managed to take his back and choke him for another tournament win.


In 1997, Gracie signed up to a fight against Yoji Anjo's superior Nobuhiko Takada in the Pride 1 event. Before the Tokyo Dome's 47,860 spectators, Rickson defeated the inexperienced Takada, mounting him and locking an armbar in 4:47. Immediately after the event, Fighting Network Rings's chairman Akira Maeda challenged Gracie, but got no answer.[9] Now enjoying a growing popularity in Japan, according to Gracie he was proposed to fight Mario Sperry at Pride 3, but the process was stopped due to Carlson Gracie's disavowal.[10] Pride management also offered him to take Royce Gracie's place in his cancelled match with Mark Kerr, but he refused, citing one month to be a too short time to prepare.[10] Finally, Rickson agreed to sign up to a rematch against Takada at Pride 4, stating: "I feel Takada is a warrior and deserves the chance to try and redeem himself."[10]

In their rematch, Takada had improved and was able to wrestle Rickson to neutralize his groundwork advantage, but the Brazilian master used a failed leglock attempt from the Japanese to sweep him and mount him. Nonetheless, Takada kept fighting under the jiu-jitsu master, dismounting him and threatening with a heel hook attempt, but Gracie, who was waiting until the end of the round to prevent Takada from capitalizing should he miss his opportunity,[11] applied an armbar and submitted him again.


In May 2000, after Takada understudy Kazushi Sakuraba defeated Royler Gracie in the Pride 8 event, he took the mic and challenged Rickson, who was in the Gracie corner, but nothing came of it.[12] Gracie preferred to face Pancrase's retired ace Masakatsu Funaki at Colosseum event. The event almost got canceled, as Rickson demanded special rules which forbade elbows, headbutts, knee strikes and thrusts to the head or body (standing or on the ground), but the Pancrase management eventually conceded.[13]

At the event, held at the Tokyo Dome and broadcast to 30 million TV Tokyo viewers, Gracie and Funaki started the fight clinching to the corner. Masakatsu appeared to have secured a guillotine choke, but the hold was loose and Rickson managed to go to the mat. They traded kicks to no effect, until some well timed upkicks from Gracie blew out Funaki's gravely injured knee. They clinched again, but the Japanese's injury rendered him unable to wrestle Rickson correctly, and he was taken down by the Brazilian grappler, who promptly mounted him. Masakatsu looked stunned while Rickson bloodied his face with ground and pound, and finally Gracie forced his way into a rear naked choke.[13] During the post-match interview, Gracie claimed that one of the hammerfist delivered by Funaki made him lose his eyesight for a few moments.[14]

After the Colosseum event, Gracie expressed interest in fighting judo medalist Naoya Ogawa, who was signed up for the next Colosseum event. He was also proposed by Pride management to fight Kazushi Sakuraba, who had already defeated Royce Gracie as well, but Gracie refused saying that Sakuraba "didn't have the spirit of a warrior".[13] Rickson further said he didn't want to fight a wrestler who was so much smaller than him.[13] Thus, New Japan Pro Wrestling invited him to face Shinya Hashimoto, or especially Manabu Nakanishi or Kazuyuki Fujita, but they were refused. The fight against Ogawa was set to the next year, with Naoya vacating his NWA World Heavyweight Championship to focus on training for the bout; however, tragedy struck when Rickson's son Rockson was found dead in January 2001. Affected by the loss, Gracie contemplated retirement, and the event fell off after some negotiations,.[13]

Other appearances[edit]

In August 2002, Rickson had a special appearance in Japanese media helping out Ogawa before his bout against Matt Ghaffari at the UFO Legend event, in which he assisted.[15] After the event, Ogawa talked again about a fight against Rickson, which the Brazilian considered as possible return match. Rickson also mentioned Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira and Kazuyuki Fujita as candidates to fight him in said return.[15] However, nothing of it came to fruition, even after UFO president Tatsuo Kawamura proposed creating an event in order to hold the match.[16]

In 2003, Antonio Inoki offered Rickson USD$5 million for a fight against Fujita,[17] but it had no answer.

Gracie has confirmed that he is officially retired now and his major focus is to give seminars on Jiu-Jitsu and to try to develop BJJ as his father saw it: not a fighting tool but a social tool, to give confidence to women, children, and physically weak individuals by giving them the ability to defend themselves.[citation needed]

On July 21, 2014, Gracie appeared on episode #524 of The Joe Rogan Experience podcast hosted by Joe Rogan.[18]


Gracie was the subject of the 1995 documentary, Choke, by filmmaker Robert Goodman. The documentary followed Gracie and two other fighters (Todd Hays and Koichiro Kimura) as they prepared and fought in Tokyo's Vale Tudo Japan 1995. Released by Manga Entertainment, the film has been distributed to 23 countries.[19] Rickson had a small role in The Incredible Hulk as Bruce Banner's martial arts instructor. His character is credited as an aikido instructor, despite his jiu-jitsu background. He has appeared on National Geographic's television programme Fight Science.[20][21]


Gracie raised the ire of some in the MMA community by criticizing the abilities of top fighters. In 1996, speaking about Ultimate Fighting Championship tournament winners, he labelled Don Frye and Mark Coleman as "very weak", and said that the latter "would offer no danger".[22] He also considered Marco Ruas as "nothing special" and "basic".[22] Ruas, who was known for challenging Rickson to a fight several times in his career,[23] was quoted in return as: "Talk is cheap. He has to step up in the ring and prove what he says."[24]

Though he had not fought in a sanctioned MMA contest in eight years, Gracie claimed in 2008 that he could still beat the current top fighters easily. In an interview with Tokyo Sports, Gracie argued that Fedor Emelianenko was a great athlete, but possessed "so-so" technical ability, and that he (Gracie) was "100% sure" that he could defeat him.[25] Two years after, Gracie stated that he disagreed with those who view Emelianenko as "somehow special" and that he believed Emelianenko deserved to lose the decision in his fight with Ricardo Arona; described Brock Lesnar as having "zero defense from the bottom" in the fight against Carwin; and criticized Shane Carwin for what he perceived were deficiencies in Carwin's jiu-jitsu game, characterizing him as "strong as a bull but flimsy like a paper tiger."[26] Previous critical comments that Gracie made about Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira (claiming that Nogueira had "no guard") prompted Wanderlei Silva to say that Gracie is "living in a fantasy world" and launch a new challenge to him.[23]

His father Helio Gracie disputed Rickson's claim to have had over 400 fights. According to Hélio, Rickson has only competed in fights that are commonly known and reported: the two against Rei Zulu and those that took place in Japan. Helio Gracie alleged that Rickson uses practice and amateur bouts to obtain a number over 400, and that if he counted his fights like Rickson does, he would have in excess of one million. [27]

The Ron Tripp fight[edit]

Rickson's only official loss in martial arts competition came at the 1993 U.S. Sambo Championships in Norman, Oklahoma. Rickson faced judo and sambo champion Ron Tripp. Tripp threw Gracie to the canvas by uchi mata in 47 seconds, thus giving Tripp absolute victory under FIAS International Sambo rules. Rickson disputed this loss, claiming he was misinformed of the rules of the event.[28][29]

Personal life[edit]

Gracie has four children; Rockson Gracie (deceased), Kauan, Kaulin and Kron Gracie. In a November 2010 Gracie Mag interview, Rickson discussed the passing of his son Rockson.[30]

Mixed martial arts record[edit]

Res. Record Opponent Method Event Date Round Time Location Notes
Win 11–0 Masakatsu Funaki Technical Submission (rear-naked choke) C2K: Colosseum May 26, 2000 1 12:49 Japan Special rules: Knee and elbow strikes were forbidden.
Win 10–0 Nobuhiko Takada Submission (armbar) Pride 4 October 11, 1998 1 9:30 Tokyo, Japan
Win 9–0 Nobuhiko Takada Submission (armbar) Pride 1 October 11, 1997 1 4:47 Tokyo, Japan
Win 8–0 Yuki Nakai Submission (rear-naked choke) Vale Tudo Japan 1995 April 20, 1995 1 6:22 Tokyo, Japan
Win 7–0 Koichiro Kimura Submission (rear-naked choke) 1 2:07
Win 6–0 Yoshihisa Yamamoto Technical Submission (rear-naked choke) 3 3:49
Win 5–0 Bud Smith Submission (punches) Vale Tudo Japan 1994 July 29, 1994 1 0:39 Urayasu, Chiba, Japan
Win 4–0 Dave Levicki Submission (punches) 1 2:40
Win 3–0 Yoshinori Nishi Submission (rear-naked choke) 1 2:58
Win 2–0 Rei Zulu Submission (rear-naked choke) Independent promotion January 1, 1984 1 9:00 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Win 1–0 Rei Zulu Submission (rear-naked choke) Independent promotion April 25, 1980 1 11:55 Brasília, Brazil

Submission grappling record[edit]

Result Opponent Method Event Date Round Time Notes
Win Brazil Joe Moreira Submission (Choke) V Copa Company - Absolute 1988
Win Brazil Joe Moreira Submission (Choke) V Copa Company - Light Heavyweight 1988
Win Brazil Rigan Machado Submission (Rear-Naked Choke) Independent promotion 1986
Win Brazil Murilo Sa Submission (Armbar) Copa Cantao 1986
Win Brazil Rigan Machado Submission (Exhaustion) III Copa Company 1986
Win Brazil Otavio Peixotinho Submission (Armbar) LINJJI 1984
Win Brazil Sergio Penha Submission (Choke) AABB 1981
Win Brazil Sergio Penha Submission (Armbar) AABB 1981

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Video by jiujitsumag> Rickson Gracie being awarded red belt by Rorion Gracie URL accessed July 06, 2017.
  2. ^ [1] Archived July 5, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ "Rickson Gracie's Budo Challenge". Budochallenge.com. 1959-11-21. Retrieved 2013-09-15.
  4. ^ "Official Federation Belt Rankings of Gracie Members Teaching in the U.S." Gracie USA Jiu-Jitsu. Retrieved 2010-10-16.
  5. ^ "Gracie Family Tree". International Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Federation Family Tree. Archived from the original on September 17, 2009. Retrieved 2006-04-08.
  6. ^ "Legends of MMA Hall of Fame Award Ceremony" (Press release). Silver Legacy Reno. 2014-10-20. Retrieved 2016-02-16.
  7. ^ Inside MMA Legends of MMA Hall of Fame Feature (video). Silver Legacy Reno: AXS TV Fights. November 2014.
  8. ^ a b The riot over Renzo Gracie vs Eugenio Tadeu, Bloody Elbow, May 8, 2013
  9. ^ Snowden, Jonathan. Total MMA: Inside Ultimate Fighting, ECW Press, 2008
  10. ^ a b c Rickson Gracie interview 2, Onthemat.com
  11. ^ "The first time I mounted him, about two minutes were left in the first round. I began striking him, and immediately an opportunity to attack his arm became available. I didn't take it initially because there was too much time left and I believed there was a possibility that Takada wanted me to attack his arm so he could trick me and reverse the situation to his advantage. So I waited until nearly the end of the round to prevent him from having enough time to counter. Then I ended the fight with an armbar." Rickson Gracie, In the ring with Takada at PRIDE IV, Black Belt Magazine, February 1999.
  12. ^ Snowden, Jonathan. Total MMA: Inside Ultimate Fighting, ECW Press, 2008.
  13. ^ a b c d e "Wrestling News - Colosseum 2000 Puroresu News Archive". www.quebrada.net.
  14. ^ "Rickson Gracie Interview after Funaki Masakatsu Fight". www.global-training-report.com.
  15. ^ a b "August 2002 News Archive". www.ichibanpuroresu.com.
  16. ^ "November 2002 - March 2003". www.ichibanpuroresu.com.
  17. ^ Rickson vs Fujita, Fightsport, September 28, 2011
  18. ^ "Joe Rogan Experience #524 - Rickson Gracie & Eddie Bravo". Joe Rogan. July 21, 2014. Retrieved November 23, 2018.
  19. ^ "Choke (1999)". IMDb.com. Retrieved 2013-09-16.
  20. ^ "Martial Arts vs. Crash Test Dummies: National Geographic's FIGHT SCIENCE". Kung Fu Magazine. Retrieved 2010-01-29.
  21. ^ "BAS RUTTEN ON 'FIGHT SCIENCE', KIMBO & IFL". MMA Weekly. Archived from the original on 2008-08-23. Retrieved 2010-01-29.
  22. ^ a b Rickson Gracie interview 4, Onthemat.com
  23. ^ a b "Wanderlei and Marco Ruas Challenge Rickson Gracie" (Reprint). AD Combat. July 6, 2005. Retrieved 2016-04-30.
  24. ^ Marco Ruas interview, Reocities
  25. ^ Wrestling Observer Newsletter, May 12, 2008
  26. ^ "Portal do Vale Tudo - Noticias sobre as artes marciais, novidades sobre UFC | tudo sobre o MMA | eventos de Jiu-Jitsu | lutas de Muay Thai | combates de Wrestling | Wanderlei Silva | Rodrigo Minotauro | Junior dos Santos | José Aldo | Anderson Silva | Dana White | UFC RIO". Portaldovt.com.br. Retrieved 2013-09-15.
  27. ^ "Helio Gracie: Rickson 400-0? I Don't Think So!". www.youtube.com. July 2, 2009. Retrieved 2014-11-12.
  28. ^ "Rickson Gracie interview: part one". FreeFight magazine. December 12, 2005. Archived from the original (Reprint) on September 27, 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-02.
  29. ^ "Rickson Gracie interview: part two". FreeFight magazine. December 12, 2005. Archived from the original (Reprint) on September 27, 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-02.
  30. ^ "Rickson speaks of hardest knockout of his life". Gracie Mag. November 20, 2010. Retrieved November 20, 2016.

External links[edit]