GTR Archives 2000-2020












Global Training Report


Interview with

Royce Gracie


No. 44, 4/26, 2001

Translated by Roberto Pedreira


Q:  Sakuraba, who performed a historical fight with you last year,  was defeated by Vanderlei Silva. Did you see it on video or TV?

Royce: Yeah, I saw.

Q: In Japan Royce's opinions about Sakuraba's defeat is suddenly a topic of interest.

Royce: First, I can say that Vanderlei fought well according to his own game plan. When Sakuraba is your opponent, a key to win is to fight aggressively. In this sense, I think Vanderlei's aggressive fighting style led him to victory.

Q: On the other hand, what do you think the cause of Sakuraba's defeat was?

Royce: I don't know about that. Maybe only Sakuraba knows why he lost. But what I can say is that Sakuraba should have clinched and taken Vanderlei down. You can't exchange blows head on with a guy like Vanderlei. Vanderlei is better at striking on stand up after all. It seems that he knows a little about ne-waza but on the ground Sakuraba's level is several steps higher.  I can't say why Sakuraba lost but what I can say is that Sakuraba disregarded that point too much.

Q:  To be sure, Sakuraba was very excited and exchanged blows.

Royce: If Sakuraba hadn't fought that kind of way, the result would have been  completely different. In this sense, too, the fight was in Vanderlei's hands from the beginning until the end.

Q:  Indeed. By the way, from this time, there are new rules in Pride. What has become a problem is that knee kicks and soccer ball kicks to the head area while in the "four point position" are permitted. How about that?

Royce: Ha ha ha ha ha, I am a man who came out in the first period of the UFC, Sa-mojin [interviewer's name]. There is no problem for me. The first period of UFC truly had these rules. Except for eye poking, biting with the teeth, and pulling the hairs, everything was permitted. Even attacking the genitals [kinteki kogeki] was allowed.    The structure of the UFC at that time, was authentic vale tudo.

Q: With the new rules that permit striking attacks on the opponent who is in the four points position, does the striking fighter or the ne-waza fighter have the advantage? 

Royce: That is a difficult question. Under these rules, for sure the guy who has feet and hands on the mat will have a disadvantage. But in the early UFCs, I  doubt that even one fighter intentionally took this kind of position. Nevertheless,  the [UFC} rules were changed to prohibit kicking to the head on the ground in the past four years and  fighters naturally gravitated to the four point position under the umbrella [protection] provided by the rules. When the fighters can do this it can't be said that you will ever see a "clean" [decisive] fight. Like this, they will merely win while being protected by a rule. 

Q: Indeed.

Royce:  So from now on, according to the new Pride rules, fighters will have no choice but to use correct techniques. Because when fighters understand that they can be kicked in the head when they get into this [four point] position, no one will fight like this anymore.

Q: But, you don't think these new rules are dangerous?

Royce: No. I have always been fighting with these rules. No problem, not at all.

Q: Then, you yourself have no qualms about the new rules?

Royce: No. I think the new rules are really good. We [We Gracies] have said many times that we think that to prove who is the strongest and what are the greatest techniques, no limit rules is what it is to prove it. That is what a real duel is. Besides, rules that  demand a complete fighting without draws are the correct rules.

Q: But, aren't you, Royce, yourself, going to change your fighting style according to these rules? 

Royce: No. Not at all.

Q: Well then, suppose you fight Vanderlei, you will fight differently from Sakuraba?

Royce:  As I said before, Sakuraba didn't take Vanderlei down, did he?  If I were Sakuraba, I wouldn't even try to think about exchanging striking with Vanderlei. Vanderlei has terrifying [osoroshii] knees, punches, and kicks. Sakuraba surely must have forgotten that the rules had been changed.

Q: Then, thinking about the Gracie way of fighting,  according to these rules, the "Guard Position" will become important from now on, right? 

Royce: Right. The Guard Position is usually an important technique for me. With these new rules, no one will be able to escape into the four point position. There will be more fights either by striking on stand up or taking a guard position.

Q: By the way, it may have something to do these new rules, but your cousin Renzo was KOed. What do you think about that?

Royce: I have seen the fight many times on video. But I still don't understand what happened there. I heard that what decided the fight was a right punch, but maybe it was a fight that demonstrates that one attack can change the course of a fight.

Q: What do you think was the cause of Renzo's loss? After all, I wonder if the new rules had  an influence.

Royce: Absolutely no influence on the outcome.  This time he lost because of an accident which is inseparable from fights. In a long career of fighting, such accidents can happen. Therefore, I never felt from the fight that the new rules had an influence, or that Renzo committed a technical mistake.

Q: By the way, When will you be returning to the Pride ring?

Royce: Next time It's up to the promoter (laugh).

Q: You still have the intention to fight in Pride don't you?

Royce: For sure (laugh).

Q:  In Japan, since Silva defeated Sakuraba,  there is an opinion to want to see a match between Royce and Silva, but who are the other fighters who you want to fight?  

Royce: In any case, I want to fight a top fighter. Seeing the fights I have done so far, everyone knows that I don't want to fight weak opponents. For five years I didn't fight, but last year I fought the top fighter, Sakuraba. One more time, I want to fight that top fighter.

Q: But this time Sakuraba lost. What can you say to him?

Royce: Sakuraba, you are a great fighter. And you are a very smart fighter. Don't be disconsolate that you lost this time. You are still among the top fighters. Maybe, a strong fighter like you could regain the top spot. I would like to see that.

Q: Well, any final message for the Japanese fans?

Royce: I am a fighter. Therefore, I will be back soon.  Also, I have opened an internet home page. The address is I will be able to show it to you within two weeks.  It will contain a lot of stuff with a big surprise, so please check it out. [Don't blame GTR if this link isn't working.]



Here's another interview with Royce (after loss to Sakuraba). 

Gracie in Action and  GJJ instructional dvds can be ordered below:










(c) 2001, Roberto Pedreira, all rights reserved.