When the UFC began way back in 1993, most people in America had no idea what Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu was. As Royce Gracie, a frail looking teenager, walked into the Octagon for the first time, many expected him to be demolished based off his looks. After submitting all three opponents and becoming the first ever UFC tournament champion, many realized the amazing art that is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Now, 20 years later, every single MMA fighter has integrated BJJ into their fighting arsenal. A fighter simply can not succeed without the knowledge of Jiu-Jitsu. The Gracie’s are the forefathers of this great art, and Royce is the man who brought it to the masses.
For this achievement, alongside a stellar MMA career, Royce Gracie was placed in Sports Illustrated’s Top 50 athletes of all time. Royce posted the achievement on his Twitter and Facebook pages:
Royce spoke about the honor (courtesy of GracieMag.com):
I am honored to make Sports Illustrated top 50 athletes of all time list. I don’t get excited about many things but this is something that humbles me.
This is yet another crowning achievement in the legacy of Royce Gracie. Without him, the sport of MMA that we know and love could have never achieved such great heights. He is the original ‘Ultimate Fighter’, and undoubtedly one of the greatest athletes of all time.