There was a time when the name Royce Gracie evoked a range of emotions for fighters and fight-fans, alike. For opponents, fear was probably the big one. The unassuming Gracie had a tendency to finish fights in calculated yet terrifying fashion. For fans, anticipation lingered in the air during every Gracie fight as the Brazilian jiu-jitsu wunderkind prepared to unleash his not-yet-understood array of submissions.
If you didn’t grow up watching the early days of the UFC, you would be forgiven if the name Royce Gracie doesn’t immediately fill you with anticipation, though. For one, Gracie hasn’t fought professionally since 2007, a fight in which he later tested positive for steroids. But the 48-year old is a charter member of the UFC Hall of Fame and his name still carries a lot of cache in the fighting world for a certain segment of the population, at least that’s what Bellator hopes.
Shamrock was part of the “highly-touted” fight against Kimbo Slice over the weekend (touted for Shamrock’s ripe age of 51 more than anything). But ratings and reaction for the fight were strong (no matter what Joe Rogan thinks), even though the combined years of the participants was 92. People clearly want to watch old people duke it out, so Bellator is looking to capitalize by reviving a two-decade-old rivalry.
Gracie and Shamrock first met at UFC 1, an eight-man tournament fought in front of less than 8,000 at the now-defunct McNichols Sports Arena in Denver. Gracie won via rear naked choke, but Shamrock got a rematch; at the hilariously titled UFC 5: The Return of the Beast, their 36-minute match ended in a draw.
Shamrock showed over the weekend that he needs to fight someone closer to his own age. The 41-year-old Slice(!) was far more spry! Gracie is perhaps the only person around the sport that Shamrock can still go a round with. (Gracie looks like a card-carrying member of the Shriners in that picture and it’s five years old!)
There is still tons of ground work to do to get Gracie back in the cage but, for now, let’s handicap some of the possibilities for the (at one time) BJJ master’s return.
Odds Gracie returns to professional mixed martial arts:
- Yes – 3/7
- No – 2/1
- Yes, but only if fighting the 4 p.m. lineup at Golden Corral counts as professional – 30/1
If Gracie returns, odds on his first opponent:
- Ken Shamrock – 1/80
- Tito Ortiz – 25/1
- The icy grip of Death – 100/1
If Gracie returns to face Shamrock, odds on how the match will end:
- Gracie forces a tap out – 4/1
- Shamrock wins by knockout – 6/1
- Both fighters suffer simultaneous heart attacks – 1/1
If Gracie returns to face Shamrock, odds that it is the highest rated Bellator fight ever:
- Yes – 2/1
- No – 1/3
- Bellator? Move over Pacquiao vs. Mayweather, this will be the world’s most watched fight! – 500/1
(Photo Credit: MartialArtsNomad.com (Flickr: Royce Gracie Demonstrating) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.)