The Gracies’ fame quickly grew as a result of their success of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in the Open Challenge matches; so much so, that the Gracie family wanted a larger stage to showcase the efficiency of their family’s art.
In 1993, Helio’s eldest son, Rorion, along with Art Davie, held the first Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) in the USA in Denver, Colorado. As a means to exhibit the effectiveness of the art, and not the practitioner, the rather meek-looking Royce Gracie was purposely chosen as appose to the much larger Rickson, to represent the family. To the surprise of many viewers, Royce won three of the first four UFCs, and in the process defeated opponents up to 80 pounds heavier than he was.
The advent of the UFC and the success of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu caused many martial practitioners to question long-held assumptions about the effectiveness of their martial art in a realistic combat situation.
After the initial UFCs, there was a surge in the martial world toward learning Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu as BJJ dominated the initial MMA and No Holds Barred (NHB) shows in North America, Brazil, Japan and Russia. But over time, the image of the BJJ fighter has developed, as the hybrid style of the MMA fighter