November 12, 1993 marks one of the most important dates for martial arts in history – Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in particular.
For, 29 years (and 1 day) ago, Royce Gracie won the first-ever UFC event. He competed in three fights and submitted all three of his opponents to win the tournament; Art Jimmerson, Ken Shamrock, and Gerard Gordeau.
29 years ago today,
A skinny Brazilian kid named Royce Gracie changed martial arts forever. pic.twitter.com/5e4mQ0SK2u
— MMA History Today (@MMAHistoryToday) November 12, 2022
But why was this tournament win so important for BJJ? It was because Royce Gracie demonstrated that Jiu-Jitsu is effective and that it could be used to defeat much larger fighters; including those who the audience previously thought would make easy work of BJJ.
Royce explained his strategy submitting Gordeau in the final match:
My strategy is not to give them a chance to hit me. I don’t want to get hurt, that’s the main thing. I want to win without getting hit – to get in the clinch just don’t let them hit me.
He also stated that he’s thankful for his family:
I thanks to my brother, my family for teach me this, and for giving me the chance, the opportunity to go do this.
Royce went on to win UFC 2 and UFC 4, forever marking his name in MMA history – and in 2003, became a member of the UFC Hall Of Fame.