Ever since it was announced that the UFC would be returning to Brazil to hold an event for the first time since 1998, it was speculated that MMA pioneer and and Brazilian jiu-jitsu legend Royce Gracie would be returning to action for the card.
In addition to appearing at the preliminary press conference announcing the card alongside other Brazilian UFC stars, Gracie canceled his Spring-scheduled European seminars in order to focus specifically on training for his return to action, which would come in late Summer.
However, MMAFighting.com reports that UFC President Dana White indicated to the website that he has no interest in having Gracie fight at the event.
Gracie had been hitting the media rounds lately, all but confirming a fight on the UFC’s August show. He recently told UOL Esportes that a fight on the card was almost finalized, although no opponent had been determined.
“It would be the perfect place to have my last fight,” said Gracie (props to Fighter’s Only for the transcription). “I have never fought in Rio de Janeiro and I couldn’t be more excited [at the prospect]. We are negotiating but we should have it finalized in two weeks. We only had initial contact so far and I don’t even have an opponent yet, but we should have that finalized soon.”
A UFC Hall of Famer, Gracie is a UFC veteran dating back to the promotion’s very first event, which was designed in part by his own family and was intended to prove which single style of martial arts was the most dominant. He participated in the first five UFC events, the first four being tournaments. Gracie won UFC 1, 2 and 4, but was forced to withdraw from UFC 3 after a grueling bout against Kimo Leopoldo. At UFC 5, Gracie fought Ken Shamrock to a draw in a high-profile super fight.
Gracie has competed in both PRIDE and K-1 Dynamite!!, and returned to the UFC in 2006, where he was defeated by Matt Hughes via first round TKO. His last appearance in MMA competition came at Dynamite!! USA in 2007 where he defeated Kazushi Sakuraba via decision, though tested positive for anabolic steroids following that fight.
UFC: Rio will take place on August 27 at the HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and will mark the UFC’s second ever trip to the country; the promotion held UFC: Ultimate Brazil, or UFC 17.5, in Sao Paulo back in 1998.