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Roberto Pedreira












 Posted June 5, 2017


Rickson's Favorite Fighters

"Rickson Gracie cita lutadores que mais gosta de assistir em ação"

By Roberto Pedreira


Rickson has high standards. It is easy to disappoint him. Almost everyone has holes in their game or what they are doing isn't his idea of real "jiu-jitsu" or they are too focused on "winning medals."

Is there anyone Rickson likes? Actually yes. Helio Gracie is without a doubt, the best and most technical BJJ fighter in history, Rickson believed in 1995, and possibly still does. Rolls Gracie was technical and fast, and almost equal to Rickson when he (Rickson) was 17. Royler was excellent too. 

In 1997 he wasn't impressed by Mark Kerr. Kerr was just a big strong guy with a good base but so many holes in his game that even Rockson could beat him. He must have had at least a somewhat positive impression of Equada. "A very tough guy," Rickson evaluated the 6'7", 340 lb. jiu-jitsu stylist. Rickson submitted him anyway. It wasn't a tough match though. Rickson never really had a tough match, he clarified, only matches that lasted a little longer than others. Big strong guys didn't impress Rickson. Vitor Belfort didn't impress him. Vitor had "excellent punching ability" but it would be an understatement to say that Rickson had doubts about his jiu-jitsu skills.  

In 1998 he had a favorable impression of the pro-wrestler Nobuhiko Takada's (高田延彦) abilities: "I feel Takada is a warrior and deserves the chance to redeem himself", Rickson explained. His maintained his opinion that Mark Kerr was "very strong". Rumina Sato and Mario Sperry had "excellent technique". He felt that Frank Shamrock was "nothing special" and that Olympic Gold Medal wrestler Kevin Jackson was typical of most wrestlers in that "they use mostly power and throw technique out the window". Conan Silvieira (a student of Rickson's cousin Carlson Gracie) and John Lewis (a student of Steven Seagal, Gene LeBell, and Rickson himself) did not impress him. He conceded that Ron Tripp beat him in a sambo match but justified the loss by saying that he didn't understand the rules, and instead challenged Ron to a NHB fight. He was unimpressed with luta livre representative Hugo Duarte. Hugo was a coward, Rickson said. Rigan Machado earned his approval: "Rigan was "as good as they get". 

In an undated interview, Rickson expressed appreciation for the games of Vitor Shaolin and Renato Barreto. He was unimpressed with Don Frye and Mark Coleman. Both were "very weak". He was even less impressed with Marco Ruas, whose game on the ground was "basic". Marco would be even easier to beat than Mark Coleman, Rickson believed.   

In 2005, he liked Marcelinho [Marcelo Garcia], Roger [Gracie, son of Rickson's cousin Reyla and Mauricio Motta Gomes], and Kyra [Gracie, grand-daughter of Robson Gracie]. Roger and Kyra of course, being members of the Gracie family had "the advantage of being the font of good technique, but also much dedication, suffering, a warrior spirit, that goes with the individual" [Rickson interview here; Kyra interview here]. 

But that was then. This is now. How does does Rickson evaluate the current crop of BJJ practitioners? Does anyone come up to his expectations? Tatame asked him in September 20, 2015. 

Rickson said, "I like to see Marcus Buchecha fight, and Kron, and some others. There are various fighters who I admire, but many only use a strategy to win medals. They only think about medals and not about being better than the opponent. They are strategists, not gladiators. There are great jiu-jitsu champions. There aren't "fool champions" (campeão bobo no tatame) or under-trained champions. But using a strategy to win titles leaves me with a foot behind (me deixa com o pé atrás)."

Rickson, undefeated in his career, continued:

"There are various Brazilians who are super-capable, well-trained, and strong. But there hasn't appeared yet a Brazilian who I feel is complete in the "cage". They are great, but each one has a hole in his game here, or a hole in his game there. There are guys who can punch hard ("vejo muitos com poder de trocação") but in my heart, I don't believe that is jiu-jitsu. I'm praying for a complete idol to make the scene" [Rickson laughed while speaking the last part].   


That is what Rickson thinks. But what do Brazilians (BJJ stylists and fans) think about what Rickson thinks? Do they agree, disagree, or even care?

The following are the views of eleven Brazilians who cared enough to read the interview and leave comments (their initial comments plus comments on other comments). Comments by Roberto Pedreira are in brackets [ ].

1. Marco

"The best! It's a shame his time is past. I'd love to see him in action again."

2. Sergio

"Humility is acknowledging that there are great MMA talents in addition to the [Gracie] family. There are two UFC champions who are BJJ guys, only to mention champions."

3. Alessandro

"The one and only real legend of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu is Carlson Gracie. After Carlson, there's Renzo and many others."

4. Elton

"Sakuraba sends his regards." ["Sakuraba mandou lembrança"]

5. Cardeal

"Are you stupid? Sakuraba? get out!!"

6. Elton

"Rickson ran from Sakuraba like the devil from a cross. The internet is laughing at him, yeah, yeah. Sakuraba, Ruas, Coleman, Rutten send their greetings. He ran away from Cassio Cardoso. Inform yourself, young people! At least check out the sensible commentary at the link below (written by Robson (Gracie) who knows who Sakuraba is and knows history." [Three links were included, the first now extinct, the other two simply highlights of Sakuraba's fights].

7. Alex

"I think the guy who has unfinished business in Vale Tudo is Rickson. eheheheheheh. There are many people who he didn't fight, or didn't want to risk fighting. For those who don't know, Sakuraba delivered a beat-down on almost all of the Gracie family. It is said that Rickson had a date set for a fight with Sakuraba, but for personal reasons, pulled out. I believe the reason was the death of his oldest son. So he took advantage of this tragedy to back out and thereby maintain for posterity his reputation as the "samurai of Vale Tudo". A detail: before, during, and after Rickson, there were a lot of fighters who had many more vale tudo and MMA fights than Rickson." 

9. Elton

"Exactly! The thing is, Alex, that Rockson died in 2000, Ok, mourning for a year, maybe two, but it was only in 2007, 2008 that Rickson said that he was retiring. During this time he talked on and on about choosing the rules, even the judge, and asked for 5 MI and when the Japs accepted, Rickson then asked for 15 MI (I have this information from a relative who is very close to Rickson).  Anyone who does like that doesn't really want to fight. In addition, he always drones on about how his first fight was a win over Rei Zulu in 1980 but in reality his first fight was a loss to Euclides Pereira in 1979, and he knows this very well! It's ridiculous, I don't respect him, he's a loudmouth windbag." [The writer, Elton, mentioned a link ostensibly corroborating his point that Rickson fought and lost to Euclides Pereira in 1979. The link is now extinct and in any case, Elton is in error; It was Carlson Gracie who fought and lost to Euclides Pereira, not Rickson, and it was in 1968, not 1979; see Choque 3 for details.]

10. Alex

"Unfortunately, the kind of idol Rickson is looking for no longer can exist. No one can win in MMA using only one style of fight. Jacaré is the closest thing to this type of idol."

11. Bruno

"Right, Rickson is waiting for someone with the Gracie name to appear so he can declare that the ideal gladiator has appeared."

12. Carlos

"Demian Maia!!!"

13. Robson

"I would like to see Rickson vs. Wallid, or Rickson vs. Sakuraba in ADCC or Metamoris."

14. Rogerio

"Serginho [Sergio Moraes] despite being a new name in the UFC, has a high level of jiu-jitsu, including having already beaten Kron."

14. Igor

"Jacaré, Toquinho, Werdum..."


"Francisco. I never would question the capabilities of the master. What I question is the difficulty of some talented people, in any case these days, to admit that anyone else is outstanding. It seems that to praise anyone else is prohibited and "opens up a parenthesis" in your practice and virtue. For me, the first expression of humility is to acknowledge the qualities of your adversary, whether imaginary or not." 

**Note. The opinions expressed above are those of the people who wrote them. GTR and Roberto Pedreira have no opinion about Rickson's opinions, other than that he is free to have and express them.

Rickson's opinions are extracted from interviews in The New Full Contact, Free Fight, Tatame (at that time known as O Tatame).

More interviews with Rickson Gracie here.   

Many interviews with Sakuraba (桜庭) and his Gracie Family victims (Royce, Renzo, Royler, Ryan) here.

(c) 2017, Roberto Pedreira. All rights reserved.






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