Rickson Gracie: Best of the Old School
While Royce Gracie gets the majority of the praise when it comes to making BJJ big in the USA, Rickson Gracie was the star to make it popular in Japan. Considered, the family champion, Rickson’s skills are that of legend. Past and current fighters always talk about how amazing Rickson’s Jiu Jitsu is. While, not many of his fights were recorded due to when he fought, there were some that were luckily enough to be caught on tape. Here are a few of Rickson’s greatest fights.
Rickson Gracie vs Yuki Nakai @ Vale Tudo Japan 1995
This fight is probably the most famous due to it being shown on the fan favorite documentary, Choke. Rickson had dominated at past Vale Tudo Japan events, and the 1995 event was no different. In the final match of the tournament, he met Yuki Nakai who was a talented shoot fighter. Nakai, who had fought two bigger, heavier fighters that night, had lost vision in one of his eyes due to an illegal eye gouge from his first opponent of the night. By the time, they met in the finals, Rickson had mixed feelings about his opponent, Nakai. He did not want to strike him any further, so he simply grappled him until he was able to sink in a fight ending choke. Rickson saw the honor of Nakai, and event Nakai would earn a black belt in BJJ after his loss to Rickson.
Rickson Gracie vs Takada @ PRIDE 1
This was Rickson’s first fight against Takada, that once again would show the superior ground skills of Gracie. Takada was a very popular and successful pro wrestler in Japan who seemed to have a vendetta against Rickson, due to his success in Japan. The two decided to fight each other at the first ever PRIDE event in 1997. In a fight that was mostly uneventful due to Takada’s stalling, the bout would eventually hit the mat. When it did, it was all but over for Takada. Rickson got mount and submitted Takada quickly with an armbar.
Rickson Gracie vs Masakatsu Funaki @ Colosseum 2000
In what would be Rickson’s last ever MMA fight, he took on famous pro wrestler and Pancrase fighter, Masakatsu Funaki at Colosseum 2000 in a huge bout. The event was held at the Tokyo Dome and broadcast to millions in Japan. In a slow, but technical match, Funaki came close to submitting Gracie with a guillotine choke, but he was able to escape. Once the fight hit the floor, it was all classic Rickson. He mounted Funaki and battered him with punches. As he was stunned, Gracie was able to sink in a deep rear naked choke and choke Funaki unconscious.
Rickson Gracie is such a loved and revered legend that he is almost something of a myth. He was undefeated in his MMA career, and was an absolute Jiu Jitsu stud. Even to this day, people that train with him cannot even begin to speak of how perfect his skills actually are. There will never be another Rickson Gracie.