Ralek Gracie knows that his name has taken something of a hit in the jiu-jitsu world over the past several years.
The son of the legendary Rorion Gracie and nephew of UFC Hall of Famer Royce Gracie shot for the moon with the Metamoris submission grappling promotion, earning sport jiu-jitsu more mainstream attention than it had ever received.
But while the promotion had its share of artistic success, it was not a financial one, leaving behind a trail of outstanding bills. And as Gracie attempts to resurrect Metamoris promotion nearly three years after its final full event, Gracie says that his driving force is making things right.
“There’s no doubt that I let down the jiu-jitsu community and I created a monster that I couldn’t control,” Gracie told host Luke Thomas on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour. “And it was a lot of my own inability to grow a company and not have that experience. There was a lot of energy for growth and a lot potential that I just couldn’t manage.”
Gracie wasn’t ready to manage the company’s finances, which led to a situation in which several competitors haven’t been paid, some of whom have been more patient about it than others.
Among the least receptive to Metamoris’ financial woes was AJ Agazarm, who was not paid for a 2015 draw against Karo Parisyan, then used a “takeover” of the Metamoris Instagram account to chastise the company.
While Gracie says he’s sympathetic toward Agazarm for not getting paid, the fact Agazarm used the tactics he did didn’t sit well.
“To be frank, a lot of the people who have really made the noise and gone out against us online are people who owe a lot less money and the people who are owed more money have been in some ways more open and supportive and aware and very patient,” Gracie said. ”And knowing that I never had the intentions of doing that which of course intentions can be dangerous and all that, we heard it, but they know me and they’ve had dialogue with the athletics and they’ve had very specific communications and the athletes who haven’t wanted us to success from the very beginning. For example A.J., we owed him $1,000. We owed him $1,000 and he goes out and says basically don’t support this event, Metamoris 7, live streams it from his phone to siphon revenue from us so that we not cannot continue to do business and pay athletes live in real time.”
“If you look want at his motive for trying to trash our brand and trying to take over our Instagram and tell us he’s not going to help us to pay back the athletes like he’s some super hero ... this is a much bigger engine and yes, I’m sorry, it’s unfortunate he got caught up in it,” Gracie continued.
Given the bad will which came out of Metamoris’ original incarnation, it came when the company went live with a series of Instagram posts announcing the start of “Chapter 2,” which came in a series of posts over the past week after not posting to the account since May.
But Gracie believes the time is right, as he explained the theory behind “Chapter 2.”
“The Chapter 2 reference is essentially that with the time that I’ve had to kind of recuperate from a lot of the emotion and a lot of the stress that we really went through frankly in this whole process,” he said. “Just trying to keep things afloat and keep things going despite all that financial stress, being able to take that time off and in the moment what we really have, the things that’s coming up is, there’s a life for Metamoris that is way longer than what I guess I even anticipated initially. Chapter two is a reference to the fact that we’ve learned a lot, we’ve made a lot of mistakes and gone through things that we couldn’t even anticipate. We’re aware of the fact that’s essentially in the first chapter in a book that could go 10, 20 chapters.”
Metamoris still has bills to pay, but the game plan is to find new investors, and put business people in charge of the business, in order to move the ball forward.
“The company is in debt,” Gracie said. “The plan to be honest is, there’s kind of a two-phase plan or a double kind of plan if you will or two sides to the plan. The first side of the plan is we need a financial partner and we need a business partner with the experience and the fortitude and the qualities necessary to help us grow a company $1M to $15-20M someone who has that experience that could be on the operations side, that could be business development operations, and it could also be business development, but then you also have a business partner who cares, who is passionate about jiu-jitsu.”
So why not start a new company without taking on Metamoris’ baggage? Gracie says that this is as much a matter of karma as anything else.
“I can just walk away from it,” Gracie said. “But the reason I won’t, the reason at this point feeling into it, it’s chi, its karma and so I believe personally there is a certain amount of energy, and whether you call it good or bad, there’s energy, and it’s passion and people who have been wronged and there’s energy and ill toward the brand or towards me personally is meaningful and is something that ultimately if I had the ability right those wrongs, if I had the ability to step into it and say hey, here’s your money, after five years, here’s your money, for them to go ‘oh wow, okay, man I’m not necessarily like super excited but I’m no longer holding on to something that I was holding onto in the same way with you.’ And I think that chi and that release and that movement could ultimately be stronger than starting a new brand.”