(Video) Royce Gracie Reveals He Was Chosen for UFC1 Because Father Didn’t Want Opponents Severely Hurt

In a revealing interview, Royce Gracie opened up about why his family chose him to represent their legendary Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu at the inaugural UFC event in 1993. According to Gracie, it ultimately came down to his ability to follow his father’s orders of not inflicting serious damage on his opponents.

“It was gonna be on national TV,” Gracie explained. “Imagine if they put [an] ugly brother in there.” He acknowledged that several of his larger or smaller cousins could have also demonstrated the effectiveness of their martial art. However, Gracie believes his calm demeanor gave his father confidence he would obey.

“I think my father knew I was gonna obey his orders. And his orders were – do not hurt your opponents,” Gracie stated. His father Helio reportedly told him directly: “Don’t worry. They will never hit you. They’re not gonna touch you.”

While Royce’s mother had the opposite stance, wanting to “see some blood”, his father insisted the Gracies did not need to severely injure the other fighters to prove their art’s superiority. “Don’t take me wrong. My mother’s side was totally different,” Gracie recalled with a laugh.

By choosing the disciplined Royce, the Gracies allowed Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu’s techniques to be showcased properly at UFC 1, without devolving into an overly cruel and vicious circus. Royce’s victories through positional control and submissions, without striking his opponents, represented a new paradigm in martial arts at the time.

In another instance, Royce provided a similar perspective.

Sibling Rivalry and Mismanagement

While Gracie family had many great athletes, they opted to feature Royce Gracie.

Rickson Gracie’s relationship with his brother Rorion and mismanagement of finances and opportunities prevented him from competing in the UFC, despite being widely regarded as the best mixed martial artist in the Gracie family. The decision to put Royce in the spotlight was not only due to his ability but also to avoid making Rickson a star who would overshadow Rorion. It’s a classic example of how family feuds can impact even the most promising careers.

The End of Rickson’s UFC Dream

Royce Gracie recently addressed the circumstances under which he was chosen, joking that his looks potentially had a lot to do with it.

Gracie told Legend 2 Legend podcast:

“I think that the people that they picked me, not because of my skills, I was not the best. I was not the best. They picked me because of the looks.”

Young Royce Gracie was skinny and mild mannered
Young Royce Gracie was ‘average’ looking and that made him the perfect representative of BJJ because it meant that anyone could learn BJJ

“I was wondering, people, people have been asking me this, why they picked me. I was like, I don’t know, maybe because I wasn’t the violent one.”

“Maybe because I never had a fight before.”

“You see, in a lot of the brothers, a lot of the cousins, they were already fighters and maybe they got there. They would have beat up the opponent. You see, drop blood and make my father thought that wouldn’t be the goal. So, he knew I’m the nice one.”