Receiving a surprise invite to the press conference announcing “UFC: Rio” must have really gotten Royce Gracie’s hopes up, because he’s still under the delusion that he’ll get a legacy fight on that card. Since then, he keeps talking like he’s in negotiations with the UFC about it, despite the fact that the combined number of fans and Zuffa brass who seem the least bit interested in his “comeback” can be counted on one hand… of a retired sawmill worker… with leprosy.
His last Octagon appearance against then-welterweight champ Matt Hughes in 2006 is perhaps best described as a sad and brutal demonstration of how far the sport had evolved since the single-digit UFCs of Royce’s salad days, as “Country Breakfast” utterly destroyed Gracie in the first round without appearing to break much of a sweat. Now consider the evolution we’ve seen just since 2006… the other champs at the time were Tim Sylvia, Chuck Liddell, and Rich Franklin, and the lightweight strap was on hiatus. GSP won the belt later that year, Arianny was brand-spanking-new, Tito Ortiz was still (mostly) relevant, and Jon Jones probably hadn’t even seen the inside of an MMA gym yet. The idea of putting Royce in the cage with anyone even remotely relevant to today’s UFC (or even the sport in general) sounds like a death sentence, especially since he’s now 44 and hasn’t fought in four years.
But I guess old dreams die hard, because CagePotato reports that Royce has canceled a European seminar tour in order to focus on training for the Rio event in August, though even his manager admits: “Nothing is locked down, no.” That’s apparently not stopping them from tearing up a guaranteed paycheck in favour of chasing a pipe-dream though.
So what’s the Baldfather got so say about this? Well coincidentally, I happened to catch the last minute or two of “MMA Connected” just prior to the “Fight Night 24” broadcast on Rogers Sportsnet, in which Dana White was straight-up asked about it (among other things, like Strikeforce, teammate fights, unions, Sonnen/Bisping, GSP/Silva, and UFC 129). It’s at 2:14 of the video above, but if you sneeze you might miss it, because his entire answer was: “I don’t think so.” In print, that doesn’t sound definitive one way or the other, but something about his demeanor tells me that he could give a shit if Royce even shows up to watch.