The 39-year old Royce Gracie is an undeniable legend in the sport of mixed martial arts. The UFC
Hall of Fame member has won three UFC titles and continues to be a hot discussion topic twelve years after winning the first ever UFC. Gracie's competitive spirit is still alive; fighting in New Year's Eve shows the past 2 years. His last fight was at K-1 Dynamite, where Gracie submitted 486 pound sumo wrestling champion Chad "Akebono" Rowan with a shoulder lock in 2 minutes and 13 seconds. Royce Gracie spoke with MMAFighting.com
about his current plans and his new Fight Fest event in December.
Will you be fighting in one of the New Year's Eve shows?
Royce Gracie: Yes I will be fighting in the K-1 Dynamite show this coming NYE. I have been offered Peter Aerts by K-1. But we have not signed yet, we are working on it right now.
How do you feel you stacks up against today's top fighters of similar stature?
RG: Well there is only one way to find out. The rest would be just talk and speculations.
What current fighters do you enjoy watching?
RG: I like to watch good fights, there is a lot of tough guys out there today. Hard to pick one.
How many students do you have currently and how involved are you in their day to day training??
RG: Well, I have 51 networks around the world. So I would guess that is at least 1000 students but its more then that. Also that is not counting the regular seminars that I do to places that are not associated with me. As for their training. I see them all through the year, as I travel a lot a do seminars, a lot of them come to LA when I am here and train with me. Also if then have a fight coming up a lot of them come here to LA and train with me and Rodrigo.
How has MMA
affected your life as far as his notoriety among MMA fans? Are you still recognized often?
RG: Yes for sure. I am recognized around. I get stopped at the airports by just everyday people that are not even fans of the MMA and they say how they have seen me fight. Its very humbling and also rewarding. As for has it opened doors for me outside the MMA yes it has. I take all the opportunities that come my way and I am thankful that I have them.
Has the current state of mixed martial arts turned out like you and the Gracie family thought it might when the UFC was created in America?
RG: I think so. I mean once you let it out people are going to start adapting and changing and the sport really grew not just in the US but all around the world. Its great.
In light of all that you have accomplished in the past, what challenges interest you in the future?
RG: Well I do a lot outside the ring. I fight because I want to not because I have to. I have a very successful network that keeps me busy there are a lot of projects that have nothing to do with fighting that I am involved in, also I am working on getting a reality show on. And the latest project is FIGHTFEST. Our first show is in Evansville, IN on December 9 so I am very excited about that.
Let's talk about your "Fight Fest" event.
RG: We are putting together an MMA event and adding some entertainment aspect to it. We have an 80's band Skid Row that will be playing at the event for about 45min or so, just to mix it up a little bit, make it a little more entertaining and also get some good fights in. We have Butterbean on the card, we have also been talking to a lot of really good up and coming fighters as well as some seasoned fighters about doing the show. By the end of this week we should have the card done and will have it released. I am very excited about it. I want it to grow and be a show that both the fans and also the fighters like to be a part of.
How much of the event are you involved in?
RG: Mostly producing and consulting. My manager and a promoter that we are partnered up with are doing most of the day to day stuff as well as matchmaking, but I am involved in some aspects of fighter selection and get daily updates on the show.
How did the association with Skid Row come about?
RG: You know the 80's music is something that no one wants to admit liking, but once then start playing everyone is into it. We want to not just entertain the younger crowed that is already into MMA, but attract some of the older audiences into the show and Skid Row was big in the 80's had some hit songs, so we are hoping that we will get some of the older crowed to come out to the event as well.
Is this a one-shot or event or will there be more? How often can we expect to see "Fight Fest" events?
RG: No this is not a one shot at all. We ideally want to put on between 8-10 events per year. We have also talked bout adding grappling tournaments as part of the Fightfest production. In the near future we are going to partner up with a very large Mixed Martial Arts
organization and take Fightfest even further. This is a serious project that takes a lot of money and time so we are very serious about it.
How much longer do you feel the need to compete?
RG: I have no idea, as long as my body and my mind is letting me, and my family is letting me.
Is Fight Fest an attempt at transitioning to MMA life outside of competition?
RG: No this event is just another challenge that I want to be a part of. I can stop fighting right now and be just fine. Like I said, I fight because I want to fight, not because I have to.
Thanks for doing this interview. Do you have anything to say to all the Royce Gracie fans reading MMAFighting.com?
RG: I want to thank the fans, its been over a decade since I started fighting and my fans have always been there for me, supporting me not just in fighting but in everything that I have done. I want to thank the MMA community and sites like yours for their support as well. You guys have been very helpful and supporting in my endeavors and I appreciate that very much. It would be very hard to get the word around without the support of MMA news site and message boards and I thank them all for help and support. See you guys in Indiana.