Royce Gracie, the winner of the three out of the first four Ultimate Fighting Championships, turned forty-five today. He is the son of Helio Gracie, who helped adapt Japanese Judo into Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and the younger brother of Rorion Gracie, the original founder of the the UFC.
Royce has one of the most storied careers in MMA history, fighting as the Gracie family's representative in the UFC and was the champion of the first UFC tournament, choking out Ken Shamrock and Gerard Gordau to secure the crown. Royce repeated the feat at UFC 2.
At UFC 3, Royce engaged in an all-time great match with Kimo Leopoldo, Royce won the match via armbar but was forced to withdraw from the tournament due to injury. At UFC 4, Royce won the title after a 15 minute battle with wrestling great Dan Severn, locking on a triangle choke at 15:49 in the fight. Fans had to wait to see the submission until the fight was released onto VHS because the PPV time had been exceeded and the fight black out moments before the choke.
Royce introduce American martial arts fans to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and is often cited by fighters as their inspiration for entering into MMA, making him one of the most influential fighters in the sport's short history.
He finished his career 11-1-1 in the UFC with all 11 wins by submission, a record which still stands today. Royce also competed in Japanese promotions Pride and K-1/Dynamite and retired with a 14-2-3 professional record.
Since retiring from MMA, Royce has stayed very busy opening Jiu Jitsu schools and teaching seminars all over the world. He still trains everyday in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, choosing to focus on his family's particular brand that is based more on use in self-defense than in sport grappling or MMA, often refereed to as Gracie Jiu Jitsu. Royce is currently a 6th degree black belt.
So on behalf of Bloody Elbow, Happy Birthday Royce!