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Royce Gracie believes Brazilian fighters lack strategy: ‘You can’t just be tough and talented’

Zuffa LLC, Getty Images

UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo will put his title on the line against Chad Mendes on Oct. 25 in Rio de Janeiro, and he has the whole country of Brazil in his hands. If Mendes stops Aldo’s reign 4-year reign as 145-pound kingpin at UFC 179, Brazil would have no UFC titles for the first time in eight years.

Anderson Silva, the man who won the first UFC gold in years for his country in 2006, believes that his countryman recently lost three of the four championship belts because they stopped evolving. Royce Gracie, who dominated the UFC during an era where belts didn’t even exist, has a different take on the situation.

"It’s a strategy game. You can’t just be tough and talented," Gracie told "People outside (of Brazil) knows how to work with strategy really well. You have to know your opponent and take him out of his game. It might look easy at the end, but he trained really hard to make you do this, make this wrong step, and then knock you out in 30 seconds. That’s strategy. I think (Brazilian fighters) are lacking that."

Gracie built an 11-1-1 record under the UFC banner, winning three one-night tournaments in the early 1990’s, using his jiu-jitsu only. It’s crazy to think that a fighter would be able to dominate his entire division using only one martial art today, and Gracie recognizes that. However, he criticizes fighters who walk away from their background when making a transition to MMA.

"A fighter does jiu-jitsu, boxing or kickboxing his whole life, and then he wants to do something else in the ring," he said. "If you trained jiu-jitsu his whole life, why would you trade punches on fight night against a striker?"

"That’s why I like Demian Maia and Fabricio Werdum," he continued. "Demian will take you down and do his game. Werdum learned the stand-up to know what’s coming, but he never stopped using his jiu-jitsu. He will clinch, take you down and submit you. It’s a strategy game. It’s not being talented only, you have to use strategy."

Werdum is scheduled to challenge heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez on Nov. 15 in Mexico City, and Gracie won’t make a prediction on the fight.

"Werdum is good, is a smart fighter. He knows how to set up a beautiful strategy. He’s showed that already," Gracie said. "But that’s only one way to find out if he’s going to win: getting inside the Octagon and fighting."

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