UFC 1 champ Royce Gracie has a message for modern MMA gyms

UFC and BJJ legend Royce Gracie is unhappy with the way gyms run their business nowadays.

By: Lucas Rezende | 2 weeks ago

Hello, boys and girls. It is Thursday once again, which means it’s time for anothed edition of the Brazil Beat. You know, the weekly roundup of all the news in the Brazilian fighting community, all conveniently put together in one place by yours truly.

This week, we’ve got some strong words from the original UFC champion Royce Gracie, as well as a statement from the new flyweight champ Alexandre Pantoja and women’s bantamweight contender Mayra Bueno Silva. That’s still not all, though. So let’s jump right in and get this show on the road.

UFC legend Royce Gracie blasts gyms for forgetting essence of martial arts.
IMAGO/USA TODAY: UFC legend Royce Gracie blasts gyms for forgetting essence of martial arts.

Royce Gracie wants the essence of martial arts back

Brazilian jiu-jitsu legend and original UFC champion Royce Gracie does not like the way martial arts are being handled these days.

With jiu-jitsu’s rise in popularity in the last decades, Gracie believes current gyms may have become too focused on competitions while forgetting what martial arts are truly supposed to be about: personal defense. In an interview with Combate the BJJ legend explained what he thinks teachers and coaches should be doing with their students.

“Nobody takes up martial arts because they want to compete. Nobody puts their kid in martial arts because they want them to win a championship. Parents want their kids to learn how to defend themselves. A woman will join martial arts because she wants to defend herself.”

“Gyms have forgotten the essence of martial arts. Gyms are the ones who most influence you to join tournaments. Some people say ‘I started training because I saw you win the UFC’. I tell them that’s not true, it wasn’t because of me. It could have been anyone. The technique I displayed is what attracted that person.”

Though Royce Gracie was mostly discussing jiu-jitsu, he does believe the problem goes beyond just the one martial art. To give an example, he mentioned the case of Saudi Arabian karateka Tareg Hamedi, who got disqualified in the finals at the 2020 Olympic Games for using excessive contact in a points match against Iran’s Sajad Ganjzadeh.

“As an Olympic sport, jiu-jitsu would become even bigger, but it would lose that self-defense essence. That’s the martial art. For example, in the last Olympic games, a guy knocked out the other one in karate, but the one who got knocked out won. The one who knocked him out got disqualified for excessive force. How can that be? That’s what karate was invented for, to knock someone out. Then they’re like: ‘No, you’re supposed to score points’. I’m not just talking about jiu-jitsu, but martial arts in general.”

Popo Freitas blames coaches for Whindersson Nunes’ loss

From a BJJ legend in Royce Gracie to a boxing one in Acelino ‘Popo’ Freitas, we’re taking a turn to boxing before we dive into our MMA news of the week.

Last weekend, Brazilian internet sensation Whindersson Nunes was eliminated from the Kingpyn boxing tournament after dropping a unanimous decision to King Kenny in an outing that left Popo wondering if things could have been different for Nunes if he had better guidance.

On his social media (transcribed by Globo Esporte and translated by Bloody Elbow), Freitas blamed Nunes’ coaches for the loss and reminded people that Popo himself had offered to train Nunes free of charge.

“The coachs orient and call the shots. Whindersson is not to blame at all. He did the best he could. I blame his coaches. His coaches should’ve watched some of King Kenny’s fights with Whindersson and without him, too. So they could train separated.”

“There’s no point in having a Cuban coach or anything like that. What helps is having a good coach. I offered myself to be his coach and said I didn’t want any money. I wanted nothing. I just wanted to show and pass on some of my experience so he’d know what he’s capable of. Because he fought me for eight rounds, I knew what he could do. Each fight is different.”

Seems like Popo is taking this way too personally for a celebrity boxing match, right?

Alexandre Pantoja wants to keep flyweight moving

Ok, boxing and jiu-jitsu aside, let’s finally take a look at some mixed martial arts news, yes? Why not start with the newly crowned UFC flyweight champion Alexandre Pantoja, who has had some time to think about who can be his first challenger after winning the belt at UFC 290.

In an interview with MMA Fighting, Pantoja named an easy solution to define who his next challenged could be. Since top contenders Brandon Royval and Amir Albazi have both been campaigning for a crack at the belt, the ‘Cannibal’ figures that the best move would be to make them face each other, with Pantoja taking on the winner later down the line.

“I think the most reasonable move is them fighting each other,” Pantoja said on a bonus episode of Trocação Franca podcast. “They’re both saying, ‘I’m next, I’m next, I’m next,’ and they’re both fresh, so let them fight and the winner comes [fight me]. It’s only fair to everybody.

“Like I said, the division was stuck for a long time, and I was one of the guys waiting on the doorstep. It would be nice to see the division moving again.”

It is a breath of fresh air seeing the flyweight title picture involve anyone other than Deiveson Figueiredo or Brandon Moreno. Let’s see if Pantoja can keep the ball rolling.

Mayra Bueno has a few words for Julianna Pena

Now that Mayra Bueno is in the title mix at the women’s bantamweight division, it seems she has already captured the attention of other title contenders after her submission win over former champion Holly Holm.

Namely, former champion Julianna Pena was one of those contenders, as the ‘Venezuelan Vixen’ quickly took to her official Twitter account to call out Bueno and Raquel Pennignton at the same time.

At the post-fight press conference, Combate (transcribed by Bloody Elbow) asked Bueno about Pena’s tweet and the Brazilian had quite the answer for the former champion.

“She’s scared. She’s funny. Ok, I love you, Julianna, but I will mess you up. Look at my fight and then look at yours. Who won? Oh, Julianna, shut up. I respect you, but I will mess you up.”

Honestly, I just think it’s amusing how nobody respects Julianna Pena in the UFC, no matter how hard she tries.

Ketlen Vieira has more words for Julianna Pena

Yeah, we’re not done with Julianna Pena just yet.

Though Mayra Bueno only had a short message for the former bantamweight champion, UFC London’s Ketlen Vieira spared no words to get her point across in an interview with Ag Fight (transcribed by Bloody Elbow).

Although it is clear that Vieira is also not a fan of what Pena represents in the sport, most of her feelings seem to stem from the disrespect the Venezuelan Vixen has displayed towards Amanda Nunes when the ‘Lioness’ retired from MMA at UFC 289 just last month.

“I think she was completely disrespectful. She has to respect Amanda Nunes’ history. She will never do 10% of what Amanda Nunes has done in her life. I saw video in which everyone is applauding Amanda Nunes and she’s there making faces. That’s a moment when I’m glad I don’t speak English, just so I don’t have to hear the crap she says. She’s like that, a mediocre person. She can’t wait for her turn and applaud someone else. She’s been disrespectful to Amanda and all Brazilian athletes. She keeps talking crap, saying she wants to fight two in the same night. Making up lies in her head.”

Since Pena is coming off a loss to Nunes when they rematched last year at UFC 277 Vieira does not think the former champion should even be thinking about a title fight before at least winning another match. However, that does not mean the 31-year-old would turn down the offer to take on Pena if the opportunity presented itself.

“I don’t think Julianna deserves to fight for the title. She’s coming off a loss. In my opinion, she’d have to win a fight and be coming off a win to fight for the belt. I hope we can cross paths one day. Not because she talks trash, but because I like facing great athletes. I’ve faced the best strikers and grapplers, but I haven’t faced a woman who, as she says, has one of the best jiu-jitsu games in the division. It would be more for the challenge, but it would have a special taste, for sure.”

Andre Muniz ready to recover from first UFC loss

Losses are difficult to swallow for some fighters. Though they come with the job, they may sometimes come at unfortunate moments and throw a wrench into years of work and sacrifice. However, they are not the end of the world.

That is the lesson that submission specialist Andre Muniz has learned after suffering his first Octagon loss in his last outing, when he got submitted by Brendan Allen and saw a five-fight win streak in the UFC get snapped.

Now that he is paired against another submission ace in Paul Craig, Muniz feels ready to put the disappointing loss behind him and start a new chapter in his career. After a lot of pondering and going through the grieving process, the Brazilian tells Ag Fight (transcribed by Bloody Elbow) how he came to terms with the defeat and that he is ready to get back in the win column.

“It was hard, for sure. Being a jiu-jitsu guy, you never want to get submitted. It happened, it’s a process. You take a few days to process it. You think about it. Then you look at your past and you see everything you had to go through to get here. You understand that it won’t be a single loss that will stop me or change my story in the promotion or in my fighting history. I have to know how to handle it and win again as soon as possible and put on a great performance.”

“Losing is always bad. I’ve lost before in my career and I understand that it’s a process, it’s a part of it. Only a few athletes will retire without a loss. That’s how champions are made. You fall so you can rise stronger. My team and I have watched the fight, we know we made some technical mistakes. We’ve studied it and corrected them. God willing, everything will go well next Saturday and we’ll win again.”

I mean, other than Khabib Nurmagomedov, is there even another fighter who was able to retire undefeated? Best I can think of is Georges St-Pierre, who avenged both of his losses.

A Brazilian Beat

I had a ska awakening when I was around 15 and it changed my life forever. Bands like Streetlight Manifesto, Madness, The Specials, Reel Big Fish and many others opened my eyes to a whole new horizon of music I had no idea existed until then, so of course it didn’t take me longer to look for a Brazilian band that could scratch that same itch but with Portuguese lyrics that I could sing along to more easily.

That’s how I discovered Sapo Banjo back in the mid-2000’s and their mix of both 2-tone and third ska have made me a fan for life. Though they’ve been together for over 20 years and are still releasing new songs to this day, I’d like to share the title track from their 2007 album named “Carro de Som” (Sound Car).

Most ska fans are familiar with the saying ‘ska is the best anti-depressant’, and I think a song like this makes it easy to see why, so please enjoy some Sapo Banjo and I bet it’ll make your day brighter!

That’s it for this week, folks. See you all next time. Stay safe!

Lucas out.

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About the author
Lucas Rezende
Lucas Rezende

Lucas Rezende is a Brazilian journalist and writer from Belem, Para. He has been covering MMA since 2012 and contributing with Bloody Elbow since March 2015. When not writing, Lucas also teaches English. In his free time, he enjoys reading, slapping the bass guitar and traveling.

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