Consider the following boys and girls:
- When Royce ruled the UFC no one and I mean NO ONE understood ground fighting! Hence he had his way with all of them as soon as the fight hit the ground. And keep in mind while Dan Severon didn't understand submissions he was a very good wrestler and it took Royce 15:00 to submit him. That should prove that big strong wrestlers (with little else) can give Royce trouble.
Is anyone doubting that Hughes is a better submission man than Severon was back then?
Now add this to the equation: All of the world class grapplers now understand submissions. I'm not saying that they are as good as Royce Gracie at Submission, (some are better) but they know enough to stay out of trouble and, or counter a move that comes their way. And in many cases their skills do rival the Gracies!
By the way do you know how the last three Hughes matches ended? He SUBMITTED ALL OF THEM: One armbar, one choke and one Kimura! That my friend demonstrates a very good understanding of submission techniques!
Furthermore take a close look at Hughes record:
You don't compile a record of 38 - 4 because you are average, not hardly.
12 (T)KOs (31.58%)
18 Submissions (47.37%)
8 Decisions (21.05%)
He submits almost half of everyone he fights!
Less than a quarter of his fights have even gone the distance!
How can anyone say that Hughes is average?
Royce's UFC record is 13-2-3. That's it. So who has the MMA fighting experience? Who is currently at the top of their game? Who has 42 full contact fights and only lost 4?
- Royce has been away from the UFC for approximately 9 years! That's not 9 months brother, it's 9 long years. Do you think his skills have gotten better compared to the rest of the field? Not hardly!
How many fights has Hughes had in the Octagon over the past 8 years? That would be 42 fights winning all of them but 4! (2 losses very early on)
In other words, while the "ring rust" has been attaching itself to Royce at a steady rate. Matt has done nothing but polish his art and get better with each fight.
The fights or Jiu-Jitsu matches that Royce has had since leaving the UFC have been few and quite unspectacular. Remember the Walid Ismal (sp) fiasco? Royce was choked unconscious! And then there was his loss to Sakuraba in Pride. Of course Sakurba went through several Gracie's like crap through a goose. But that's another argument.
What has Royce Gracie done over the past 9 years that would lead you to believe that he is even as good as he was back in 97'? But then again, most of us know that he has to actually be BETTER than he was in the mid 90's to defeat Matt Hughes.
- Let's do a quick analysis of what it takes to win, and make a comparison.
Someone stated that Hughes stand up skills are not all that great. I agree, they are not as good as most at his level. However what does this really mean in a head to head match with Royce Gracie? Have you ever seen Royce's stand up skills? I have and if you would rank Hughes skills just below ametuer boxers then Royce's would be somewhere around High School level. This is not a put down. The Gracies were never known for their stand up striking ability.
(I will say that Gracie has a sneaky high face kick and if he gets lucky it might work....)
Stand up game: Hughes all the way!
I know, I know the Gracies invented the ground game. But, remember one important factor; Hughes is a world class wrestler! In fact, he was a 4 time collegiate wrestling champion Division one. You don't get much better than that. And while he may not have grown up with submissions the way Royce did, he has proven over the past 8 years and 42 fights winning all but 4, and 20 by submission that he is more than capable of mixing it up with Royce on the ground skill wise.
Ground Game: Equal.
A quick look at some other aspects of what it takes to win:
Strength: I don't think that you or anyone else is ready to say that Royce is even in the same league with Hughes when it comes to strength and power.
Speed: Are you ready to say that Hughes lightning fast take-downs are slower than Gracie?s moves? Not hardly. What drives a persons moves (besides skill obviously) muscle!
Stamina: Have you ever seen Hughes sucking wind after one or two rounds? No, he is supremely conditioned. I will admit that Gracie has excellent stamina as well. I'll call this one a toss up.
I know how you feel Royce is most definitely the sentimental favorite. He WAS the UFC, no question. If not for Royce and his family we would not have MMA. I give Royce (and his family) a great deal of credit for taking martial arts to the next level and erasing for ever more the image of the mystical black belt fighter who can defeat all comers with lightning kicks and magical pressure points.
I am truly thankful that those days are over, for all but the most gullible, and of course children.
However, this is a new day my friend and the fighters of today are bigger (for their weight) stronger, faster, better trained and they are all well aware (at that level) of every aspect of martial arts, there are no more secrets on the ground! This erases the biggest component of the early Gracie arsenal.
Royce Gracie WILL be defeated by Matt Hughes. Whether he hangs on for 5 rounds (I assume it's a recognized championship fight), or Hughes puts him to sleep early there is no way for the legend to live up to the reality! And the reality is, the game has passed him by!