Rickson Gracie: Biography, Fights and Accomplishments

Rickson Gracie
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Rickson Gracie is a 9th-degree red belt in Gracie Jiu-Jitsu and a retired mixed martial artist from Brazil. This legendary MMA fighter, and Jiu-jitsu practitioner was awarded Red Belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu by Rorion Gracie on October 23rd, 1995. He was born on November 21, 1958, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil as one of Helio Gracie’s 9 kids.

In this blog post, we will explore Rickson’s life story, as well as learn about some of his fights and most famous accomplishments.

Quick Facts About Rickson Gracie

Nickname: The Last Samurai

Birth: November 21, 1958 (age 63), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Birth Sign: Sagittarius

Height: 1.78 m

Blood Type: 0

Wife: Cassia Gracie

Children: Kron Gracie, Kauan Gracie, Kaulin Gracie, and Rockson Gracie who passed away.

Brothers and Sisters: Royce Gracie, Rorion Gracie, Royler Gracie, Relson Gracie , Rolker Gracie , Rerika Gracie, Robin Gracie, Ricci Gracie

Famous quote: “If we fight for money, I’ll stop hitting you when you ask me to. If we fight for honor, I’ll stop hitting you when I feel like it.”

Books: Rickson Gracie 21st century warrior’s spirit, The Breathe

Net Worth: Rickson Gracie’s net worth is approximately $1.5 Million.

Ethnicity, religion & political views: Unknown according to IMDB, Wikipedia, and other media sources

Rickson Gracie’s Early Age

Rickson Gracie grew up in Favelas of Rio De Janeiro as the third son of legendary Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Co-founder Helio Gracie.

As Helio was spending the majority of his life on the mats together with his kids he saw the potential for fighting in Rickson since he was a kid so he trained and prepared him to take over as the family’s leading fighter.

Young Rickson Gracie with his father Helio
Young Rickson Gracie with his father Helio

But it wasn’t easy at the start because Rickson was skipping Jiu-Jitsu classes regularly to spend time in Ipanema Favela. There, he befriended some older boys and almost took a bad path with guys who smoke marijuana and surf.

Fortunately, he decided to abandon his friends from Ipanema once they started to steal and consume drugs.

After that, he was regular on Jiu-Jitsu training and that’s where his serious training starts.

Rickson Gracie Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Career

Jiu-Jitsu’s record of Rickson is impressive, to say the least. He has never been defeated in an official Jiu-Jitsu match. The record below only shows the most popular fights, but we need to take notice that he competed in Jiu-jitsu matches since he was 6 years old.

Rickson Gracie Jiu Jitsu record

Rickson Gracie MMA Career

He holds a perfect 11-0 career record, with all of his victories coming via submissions. Rickson has never been knocked out or even taken to a decision in any of his bouts.

He’s retired as undefeated he’s considered as one of the greatest mixed martial artists of all time and is still being praised by many fighters such as Fedor Emelianenko, Bas Rutten, Matt Hughes, and others.

Rickson Gracie MMA stats record

First Fight vs Rei Zulu

In 1980, Waldemar Santana, the man who had previously beaten Helio Gracie in a historic no-rules bout, reestablished friendship with Helio. One day Santana inquired if the Gracie family had anyone in their class capable of challenging Rei Zulu (Santana’s student).

Rei Zulu
Rei Zulu

Zulu was a great fighter with tremendous athletic ability, and he had never lost in his NHB career. In Brazil, no one wanted to fight him, so Waldemar, Zulu’s promoter, was having trouble finding fights for his fighter.

When Rickson was 18 years old and weighed roughly 20kg less than Zulu, his father decided to allow him to fight against Zulu. Although Rickson was not feeling 100% ready, he faced adversity when the battle took place in Brasilia at Rei Zulu’s home crowd. He had no prior experience as an amateur and didn’t know what to expect.

Carlos Gracie, a spiritualist and aura supporter, instructed Rickson not to compete because he didn’t believe it was his battle to win.

Remaining truthful to his father Rickson decided to fight what happened to be a good decision as he won the bout via Rear Naked Choke (RNC).

He later recalled feeling dizzy throughout the fight, which was attributed to the difference in air quality in Brasilia (which is considerably drier than Rio de Janeiro’s air he was used to).

Second Fight vs. Rei Zulu

Four years later Gracie faced Zulu for the second time. Again, he did not quarrel with “Zulu,” but when the man of Brasilia spoke severely to him, the fight was arranged for Maracanazinho Stadium, which could accommodate up to 40,000 spectators. The stadium was full for the fight, and no one was disappointed as it was a real battle in which Rickson won by choke again.

Rickson Gracie vs Rei Zulu
Rickson Gracie vs Rei Zulu

Luta Livre Challenges and Bouts

In 1988, promoters tried to organize a bout between Rickson and Luta Livre exponent Marco Ruas. However, Hélio Gracie refused, demanding that Rickson should be paid more money or that the fight take place within the Gracie Academy, both of which were rejected. As a result, the bout didn’t happen.

Ruas, meanwhile, had been criticized for not defending the honor of Luta Livre. Later, during a meeting with Luta Livre fighters at the Clube Boqueirão do Passeio, Rickson himself challenged Ruas. The cause for this second fight’s cancellation is a point of contention: Rickson said Ruas requested time to prepare; whereas Ruas claimed Helio shut down the proposal on the basis that he did not consider Ruas to be a genuine Luta Livre representative.

Denilson Maia Challenge

Later, Rickson was challenged by Lutador Denilson Maia. He accepted to fight, but Denilson had to pull out due to his father’s death, so he was replaced with Duarte.

Fights with Duarte

Despite Duarte’s only desire being to participate in a pay-per-view event, Gracie met him on the beach and smacked him in front of his pupils before demanding him to compete there, so Hugo stepped down and fought Rickson on the sand.

Rickson Gracie vs Hugo Duarte
Rickson Gracie vs Hugo Duarte

After Duarte surrendered to punches to the face, Gracie won. Shortly after, Duarte showed up at Rickson’s gym demanding another bout, claiming that Rickson had kicked him and thrown sand in his eyes during the fight. Once again, Gracie prevailed, resulting in a riot that necessitated the involvement of the police.

Rickson Gracie vs Hugo Duarte 2
Rickson Gracie vs Hugo Duarte 2

Following the bout Rickson departed Brazil for the United States, so the rivalry between Brazilian jiu-jitsu and Luta Livre continued without him.

Vale Tudo Japan

In 1994 Rickson was invited to Japan, where he saw a fantastic way to promote his family’s name outside of Brazil, and with a hefty prize on the table, he accepted. The 8-man tournament was called “Vale Tudo Japan 1995,” and Rickson Gracie prevailed, defeating all of his opponents in one night.

Vale Tudo Japan 1995

He continued to fight in Japan, winning several more fights (all by submission) and keeping his record perfect. This tremendous triumph for Rickson incurred the wrath of some Japanese fighters who regarded their nation and martial arts tradition as having been besmirched. The Japanese pro wrestler Nobuhiko Takada was one of those fighters who made a public challenge to Rickson, but Rickson refused to accept the challenge, fuelling Japanese fury even more.

Yoji Anjo Dojo Storm Challenge and Fight With Rickson

Yoji Anjo, a Japanese fighter who was trained by Takada, decided to go to California and reclaim his country’s pride, bringing with him a large media presence. He came to the Gracie family’s doorstep unannounced in order to confront Rickson who had to be contacted from his house. As soon as Rickson received a call he showed up and accepted the challenge.

Yoji Anjo dojo storms Gracie academy
Photo was taken when Yoji Anjo dojo stormed Rickson Gracie

Despite the fact that Anjo and his companions sought to entice Rickson to compete in a Japanese promotion, he refused and announced that the bout would take place there behind closed doors. As Yoji reluctantly agreed to the terms, Rickson said his most famous quote:

If we fight for money, I’ll stop hitting you when you ask me to. If we fight for honor, I’ll stop hitting you when I feel like it.

The fight was a one-sided beatdown, with Rickson having the option to submit Yoji quickly but opting for a statement instead. Just like he said before the fight he gave Anjo a real beating. The Gracie family kept the video of the bout as a memento and has never shown it

After their dojo storm challenge fight in 1989, Rickson declared that he was much better and Yoji had no chance to win.

PRIDE Career

In 1997, Gracie accepted a bout with Yoji Anjo’s superior Nobuhiko Takada in the Pride 1 event. In front of 47,860 fans at the Tokyo Dome, Rickson vanquished the inexperienced Takada by mounting him and locking an armlock after 4:47 minutes of the fight.

According to Gracie, he was offered to fight Mario Sperry at Pride 3, but the process was halted because of Carlson Gracie’s refusal. He was also asked to take Royce Gracie’s place in his postponed bout with Mark Kerr, but he refused, claiming that a one-month preparation time wasn’t enough.

Akira Maeda, a Japanese MMA fighter, also challenged Gracie and proposed a fight as his own retirement bout, but it was turned down. Rickson agreed to a rematch with Takada at Pride 4 only because it was the match for the title.

“I feel Takada is a warrior and deserves the chance to try and redeem himself.” – Rickson stated

In their second bout, Takada had improved and was able to wrestle Rickson to neutralize his groundwork advantage, but the Brazilian master utilized a failed leglock attempt to sweep him and mount him.

Nonetheless, Takada managed to fight his way out of Rickson’s mount and manages to dismount him. Soon after his mount escape, he threatened with a heel hook attempt and an armbar. Gracie was waiting until the end of the round to prevent Takada from capitalizing, so he applied an armbar and submitted him again.

Rickson Gracie vs Takada Pride 1
Rickson Gracie vs Takada Pride 1

Colosseum Events

After Kazushi Sakuraba bested Royler Gracie in the Pride 8 event in May 2000, he took the microphone and challenged Rickson, who was sitting in the Gracies corner. But nothing ever happened out of it. At Colosseum, Rickson chose to face Masakatsu Funaki, who had retired from Pancrase.

The bout was nearly canceled when Rickson wanted special conditions that ban headbutts, elbow strikes, and ground blows, but an agreement was reached when the Pancrase management agreed to ban headbutts and elbows.

The bout, which was aired live to 30 million TV Tokyo viewers, at the Tokyo Dome, Gracie and Funaki began clinching in the corner. It appeared that Masakatsu had a guillotine choke applied, but Rickson was able to go to the floor because it was loose.

They traded kicks with no effect until some well-timed low kicks from Gracie blew out Funaki’s shattered knee. They clinched again but the Japanese’s injury prevented him from wrestling Rickson correctly, and he was taken down by the Brazilian grappler who took advantage of this situation and mounted him.

After the third round, Masakatsu was visibly shocked as Rickson battered his face with ground and pound and Gracie forced his way into a rear-naked choke. [19] “Gracie said that one of Funaki’s hammerfists caused him to go temporarily blind,” according to the post-fight interview.

Rickson Gracie Colosseum
Rickson Gracie vs Funaki Colosseum 2000

After the Colosseum event, Gracie expressed an interest in competing against judo bronze medalist Naoya Ogawa, who had been signed up for the next Colosseum bout. He also turned down Pride management, who suggested that he should fight Kazushi Sakuraba, who had previously defeated Royce Gracie. “He didn’t have the warrior’s spirit,” said Rickson for Sakuraba. Later he stated that he didn’t want to fight a guy who is so much smaller than him.

However, since Hashimoto had not yet fought in New Japan Pro-Wrestling at the time, he was invited to face Manabu Nakanishi, Kazuyuki Fujita, or even Shinya Hashimoto. They were refused, however. The bout with Ogawa was scheduled for the next year.

Scheduled Fight Against Kazushi Sakuraba That Never Took Place

Rickson Gracie’s last bout was supposed to be against Kazushi Sakuraba, the man who had defeated every member of the Gracie family he faced. He was nicknamed “The Gracie Hunter” because he beat every Gracie family fighter he faced and said he’ll beat any Gracie he’d face.

The words from Sakuraba were enough for Rickson to accept the fight with Sakuraba, but tragedy struck him when Rickson’s son Rockson Gracie tragically passed away.

He continued to claim he was open to fighting again throughout the next few months but nothing came out of it. When the bout with Sakuraba was mentioned again, Rickson stated that he was uninterested in it, although he acknowledged, “in my heart, I believe that Sakuraba deserves to be beaten.”

Kazushi Sakuraba defeats Royce Gracie in Pride
Kazushi Sakuraba defeats Royce Gracie in Pride

Rickson Gracie Loss to Ron Tripp in a Sambo Bout

Rickson Gracie faced World Sambo Champion Ron Tripp in the 1993 US Sambo Championships in Norman, Oklahoma. In 47 seconds, Tripp “absolutely” beat Gracie by using “Uchi Mata,” giving him absolute victory according to FIAS International Sambo rules.

When Ron Tripp defeated Rickson in a Sambo bout, he said that he had no idea about the rules.

Actually what Rickson said about rules makes sense because in Jiu-Jitsu when you go to the ground fight actually starts. That’s not the case with Sport Sambo which has a rule like Ippon in Judo that means immediate victory.

Rickson Gracie vs Ron Tripp
Rickson Gracie vs Ron Tripp

Rickson Gracie’s Retirement

After defeating Masakatsu Funaki in may, 2000. at the CK event, Rickson didn’t mean to retire, but after his son’s death, he wasn’t able to continue with fighting. He focused his energy on teaching and spending more time with his family.

Rickson Gracie as a Teacher of Gracie Jiu-jitsu

Rickson believes that he is a Gracie Jiu-Jitsu practitioner rather than an MMA fighter, and he took pleasure in the fact that he did not cross-train in other fighting arts in order to face the best fighters in the world at the time.

That’s exactly the reason why Rickson is probably the loudest representative of Gracie Jiu-jitsu and the way of training he represents.

He doesn’t accept Jiu-Jitsu training as a sport. Just like his father Helio he thinks that Jiu-Jitsu training should involve all aspects of fighting and self-defense. His mind is set on submitting opponents rather than winning on points.

His main accomplishment as a teacher came with his Son Kron Gracie whom he was teaching since he could walk.

The moment when Kron won the ADCC finals in 2013 Rickson considers as one of the best moments of his life.

Rickson Gracie’s 400:0 record

Rickson Gracie claims that he has a 400:0 fighting record.

Many people dispute Rickson Gracie’s 400-0 record. Even Helio Gracie, Rickson’s father, stated that the claim of his son was false.

“I can’t recall how many fights I had. I would say about 50, more or less. If you count all fights including Rickson who says he has 400 fights then I have a million. Because for the last 60 years I’ve been teaching Jiu Jitsu for 20-30 students a day. If you multiply that it could be more than a million. Rickson fought twice in Brazil and the rest of his fights were in Japan. Tournament matches and stuff where little kids play I don’t count as fights.” – said Helio Gracie in an interview

So it’s still in question what Rickson meant when he said 400:0. He was probably counting all the Jiu-Jitsu tournament matches under his fighting record.

Rickson Gracie Filmography

  • The Incredible Hulk 2008 – Aikido Instructor
  • Elite Squad 2: The Enemy Within  2010 – (martial arts consultant)
  • Gracie 2021 (Documentary) (pre-production)
  • Watters’ World  2014 (TV Series) – Self
  • The Joe Rogan Experience  2008 (Podcast Series) – Self
  • Rickson Gracie & Eddie Bravo (2014) – Self
  • Fight Quest  2006 (TV Series) – Self
  • Brazil (Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu) (2008) – Self
  • Fight Science  2001 (TV Series documentary) – Martial Artist: Gracie Jiu-Jitsu
  • Chop Suey  1999 (Documentary) – Self
  • Choke  1998 (Documentary) – Self
  • Pride 4  1997 (TV Special) – Self
  • Pride 1  1995 (TV Special) – Self
  • Fight Zone 1995 (Video) – Self
  • Vale Tudo Japan 1995  1994 (TV Special) – Self
  • Vale Tudo Japan 1994  1993 (TV Special) – Self
  • UFC 1: The Beginning (TV Special) – Self (uncredited)
  • The Joe Rogan Experience  2010 (Podcast Series) – Self
  • The Gracies and the Birth of Vale Tudo Self (Documentary)
Rickson Gracie Choke Documentary
Rickson Gracie Choke Documentary

Rickson Gracie Accomplishments

Aside from his impressive martial arts record, Rickson Gracie is also well known for his many accomplishments outside of fighting. Rickson has been awarded several black belts in different disciplines including Judo, Aikido, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

In 1995, Rickson was inducted into the Black Belt Hall of Fame as “the most influential fighter of the 20th century.”

In 2000, he was named one of the 25 greatest fighters of all time by ESPN.

Rickson also founded Rickson Gracie International, a Jiu-Jitsu association with schools in many countries including the United States, Japan, Mexico, and Australia.

Rickson also opened his own line of Jiu-Jitsu equipment called Koral Brazil.

Rickson is a founder of JJGF – Jiu-Jitsu Global Federation. He founded it to unify the competitive rules of different Jiu-Jitsu organizations and ensure that all tournaments are judged using the same criteria. Rickson’s goal is to have a fair and level playing field for all competitors regardless of affiliation.

The Rickson Gracie Foundation is a non-profit organization that provides educational opportunities for children in Brazil.

Rickson Gracie is an inspiration to all who know him and his story is one that should be remembered by all!

Rickson Gracie Famous Quotes

  • If we fight for money I’ll stop hitting you when you ask me to. If we fight for honor, I’ll stop hitting you when I feel like it.
  • True strength is not always shown through victory. Stand up, try again, and display the strength of your heart.
  • In life, when faced with any situation, breathe, take your time, focus, and then decide what to do.
  • Our fears don’t stop death, they stop life.
  • Jiu-Jitsu puts you completely in the moment, where you must have a complete focus on finding a solution to the problem.
  • I’m a shark, the ground is my ocean, and most people can’t even swim
  • If size mattered the elephant would be the king of the jungle
  • Sometimes, you don’t have to win, you can’t win. But that has nothing to do with losing
  • The journey has to be based on passion. Put yourself in something you love to do. If you love what you do you’re able to dedicate yourself, overcome obstacles.
  • A brave man, a real fighter is not measured by how many times he falls, but how many times he stands up.
  • If you do not speak up when it matters, when would it matter? Even a dead fish can go with the flow.
  • The biggest gift I received as a Martial Artist is without a question the capacity to be in peace.
  • Born to fight, learn to win, live to help
  • If you’re ready to die, then you’re ready to live
  • What makes you tough is your mindset and I believe everyone can be tough.
  • The most important thing is not the victory. The most important thing is to not get defeated.

Frequently Asked Questions about Rickson Gracie

What happened to Rickson Gracie’s son?

Rickson’s eldest son, Rockson Gracie, died of a drug overdose soon after arriving in New York to pursue a modeling career.

Rickson was supposed to fight Japanese MMA star Kazushi Sakuraba in a highly anticipated bout when The Sakuraba bout was called off due to reasons unknown, and he never fought professionally again.

Is Rickson Gracie the best

It’s hard to tell if he’s the best in Jiu-Jitsu or MMA even though he’s undefeated in both sports. However he is widely considered as the best fighter of the Gracie family, and many people think of him as the best Jiu-Jitsu practitioner of all times.

Is Rickson Gracie married?

Yes! He’s married to Cassia Gracie.

Who gave Rickson his Red Belt?

Rickson was given the red belt by his older brother Rorion Gracie. According to Renzo and Royler Gracie, in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, the Red Belt is reserved for those who achieve “influence and fame”. It’s worth noticing that he received his Red Belt several years before he could receive it officially.

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