Because of their polarizing personas and staunch allegiance to their brand of jiu-jitsu, you can see why the Gracies aren’t generally beloved by today’s combat sports enthusiasts. But if there was one clan member whom fans can be drawn to, it would be Renzo and Ralph’s youngest brother Ryan.
Ryan held a reputation as a bit of a loose cannon. But his feral approach to both life and “The Gentle Art” translated well into his professional fighting career. And you’ll see it in his MMA debut at PRIDE 10 against Tokimitsu Ishizawa in 2000.
Given the family name that precedes him, you had a clue of Ryan’s game plan right off the bat. A few seconds in, he feints a one-two, shoots for a double but gets himself caught inside Ishizawa’s headlock.
But as you’ll also see, Ryan wasn’t always on wild man mode inside the ring. He remained patient until he got his head out, moved to a body lock, and went for a knee strike.
Ryan then switched to Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em mode, reminiscent of Vitor Belfort’s thrashing of Wanderlei Silva from two years prior. Referee says ‘that’s enough,’ steps in, and stops the fight.
Sadly, Ryan’s career and life were cut short in a jail cell in Sao Paulo in 2007. He was 33 years young. But this fight, along with the other six, is a strong testament to his character.
And if that fight was slow-paced for your liking, here’s Renzo and Ryan in one of their usual rolling sessions in the early days of the blue mats in NYC.