The Gracie family’s six best performances

This weekend Kazushi Sakuraba takes on another member of the legendary Gracie family when he meets Ralek Gracie at Dream 14. There is not any fighter that has caused more damage to the reputation of MMA’s first family. If Ralek is able to pull of a victory it could become one of the most memorable performances in the long family history. Let’s take a look at the rest of the top six performances.

6. Royce Gracie at UFC 1

At this point pretty much everyone who can spell the name “Gracie” knows about Royce’s accomplishments at the very first UFC. The frailest-looking competitor submitted three opponents in less than five minutes.

His most impressive victory came in the semifinal when he caught Ken Shamrock in less than a minute. Shamrock was the only competitor with previous MMA experience, a 3-0 record under the Pancrase banner.

The only bad thing you could really say about Royce is that he held his rear-naked choke a little bit long in the championship match. However, Gerard Gordeau probably deserved it. In his next fight, Gordeau prematurely ended the career of Shooto pioneer Yuki Nakai by gouging one of his eyes.

5. Royce Gracie vs. Hidehiko Yoshida at Pride Shockwave 2003

After Hidehiko Yoshida bested Royce Gracie in a modified rules grappling match in controversial fashion, Pride FC set up a rematch. For the match, Royce requested special rules. The fight two ten-minute rounds, and if it went the distance it would automatically be declared a draw.

Yoshida was coming off an impressive battle against Wanderlei Silva, and perhaps he was still feeling the effects. Royce was able to control positions and even work some ground and pound. However, thanks to Royce’s special rules the bout was declared a draw. Without the unique rules, only the most biased judges could have awarded the fight to Yoshida.

4. Rickson Gracie vs. Masakatsu Funaki at Colosseum 2000

The fact that Rickson Gracie failed to fight Kazushi Sakuraba in his prime will always taint his career. All of the posturing about being 500-0 doesn’t help very much either. However, back in 2000 Masakatsu Funaki was a respectable opponent.

By the time Funaki fought Rickson, he had already defeated Bas Rutten, Vernon White, Ken Shamrock, Frank Shamrock, Guy Mezger, Yuki Kondo and Semmy Schilt. Also, remember that back in 2000 the sport was still in its infancy. Four months after Colosseum 2000, Dan Severn headlined UFC 27 against Pedro Rizzo.

Rickson, who hadn’t fought in almost a year and a half, slowed down the pace of the fight and eventually locked on a rear-naked choke that finished the fight. Rickson ended his career with by far his most impressive career victory.

3. Renzo Gracie at 2000 ADCC Submission Wrestling World Championships

In addition to helping start the world’s most prestigious grappling tournament, Renzo Gracie is also a two-time champion. He won the under 77 kg weight class in 1998 and 2000.

In 2000, he defeated UFC veteran Dennis Hallman, Israel Albuquerque, Marcio Feitosa and 1999 champion Jean Jacques Machado.

2. Crosley Gracie vs. Hayato Sakurai at Pride Bushido 5

He might not be one of the most well known members of the Gracie family, but Crosley owns one of the family’s most impressive MMA victories. In only his second MMA fight, Pride FC matched him up with Hayato Sakurai.

During the fight, Crosley actually managed to hold his own on the feet. After several minutes he was able to secure an armbar in a scramble and finish the fight by submission. This was the first time Sakurai had ever been submitted in MMA competition.

After defeating Sakurai, Crosley dropped back-to-back fights to Akihiro Gono and Melvin Manhoef and has not fought since.

1. Roger Gracie at 2005 ADCC Submission Wrestling World Championships

Winning the ADCC absolute tournament is a huge accomplishment in and of itself. However, Roger Gracie was actually able to win all four of his matches by submission.

In the first round, Shinya Aoki fell victim to a foot lock. Roger then caught Fabricio Werdum in a rear-naked choke. He then took on two of the best grapplers of this generation. He was able to submit both Xande Ribeiro and Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza.

This kind of dominating performance is why a lot of MMA fans are excited about Roger Gracie transitioning to MMA. So far, he is 3-0 with three submission victories.

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