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UFC Founder Art Davie Disclosed Reason For Rickson Gracie Not Competing At UFC 1

UFC Founder Art Davie Disclosed Reason For Rickson Gracie Not Competing At UFC 1

Art Davie, a co-founder of the UFC, recently made an appearance on The Lytes Out MMA History Podcast hosted by Chris Lytle. During the episode, he disclosed why Rickson Gracie did not participate in UFC 1. The question arose as Rickson was undeniably the most prominent competitor in the family during that period. It was Royce Gracie who famously succeeded at that event and several subsequent UFC tournaments. Even though he might not have been the obvious choice to represent his family in the competition.

Rickson was the most experienced combatant in the Gracie family; who was still in his athletic prime at that time. He even professed to have hundreds of victories in various competitions over the years. Although very few of his fights or grappling matches have been authenticated due to the historical period in which he was active. The few available matches demonstrate his exceptional fighting skills. Despite the limited recorded evidence of Rickson’s performances, many of the world’s top grapplers and MMA fighters have praised his combat sports abilities.

Art Davie shared these views when questioned about Rickson Gracie’s absence from UFC 1:

“Rickson (Gracie) was definitely the family champion. Everybody told me that the best street fighter was Relson (Gracie), but Relson would use a bottle or a brick on the street if he needed it… Rickson would only do Jiu-Jitsu.”

This made Rickson Gracie the clear candidate to represent the Gracie family at UFC 1. However, Art Davie disclosed that internal family disputes prevented this from happening:

“Rorion (Gracie) and Rickson in the same room was electric because there was tremendous friction, and Rorion had discovered that Rickson had been taking students out and teaching them over at his garage in Torrance (California). It happened twice, when it happened a third time Rorion basically said to me ‘there’s no Rickson for the event.”

Clearly, this put Davie and the rest of the UFC 1 team in a challenging position, as the entire event was influenced by the ‘Gracies in Action’ video series produced by the family. Davie was keen to have a Gracie family member participate. However, with Rorion Gracie being a co-founder of the promotion, it was inevitable that someone bearing that last name would compete. Davie revealed that when Rickson Gracie was ruled out for UFC 1, Rorion suggested a substitute:

“I said ‘who’s it gonna be?’ He said ‘It’s gonna be Royce (Gracie).’ I said ‘Your kid brother Royce!?’ I knew that Royce had a driver’s license but he had no checking account, he had no credit card, and he lived in a small room over the Gracie garage…”

The rest is history, indeed. Royce Gracie delivered a string of remarkable performances in a single night, emerging as the champion. He went on to secure victories in two more UFC tournaments before competing for the first Superfight Championship. His achievements not only solidified his legacy in the history of MMA but also significantly elevated the prominence of his family. It depicted their unique Jiu Jitsu style beyond their imaginations.

A detailed interview with Art Davie, discussing his interactions with Rickson Gracie and other members of the Gracie family, was posted. You can watch it on the official YouTube channel of The Lytes Out MMA History Podcast:

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