GRACIEMAG: This October 14 at the inaugural Metamoris Pro, you will be taking on André Galvão, one of Jiu-Jitsu’s greats, in a gi match where you have to tap the opponent out in order to win. Does representing the Gracie name in such a match come with a lot of pressure?
RYRON: I believe that years ago I’d have felt pressure, but things are different these days. Win or lose, the Gracie name comes out on top, because Jiu-Jitsu is the biggest winner. And thus the family legacy continues. So there isn’t much pressure. And it’s just a match; it’s no big deal. Even so, I’m training every day to not let such pressure enter my mind.
What will change in your career after the match, win or lose?
A win will mostly show that my game isn’t weak. People don’t know me; have never trained with me, so my game is an unknown to my opponents. I want to test myself; that’s why I want to fight. Now if I lose to Galvão, I don’t think much will change. My students, for example, didn’t learn Jiu-Jitsu with me because I’m a champion; they’re my students because I teach Jiu-Jitsu in a pleasant environment, I teach self-defense, I teach life lessons, about health and how to eat properly along the lines of what my grandfather Helio Gracie used to preach as a philosophy and lifestyle. Everything Helio Gracie taught my father we continue teaching to the world. Even if I lose, my students will still like training with me.
What’s your take on André Galvão as an opponent?
If it were a match where points count, I’d have no doubt that André would win it. He’s really tough, has good base, is really strong and technical. If he gets on top of me and controls the fight, he’ll easily win on points. And it’s not my style to be on bottom using force to get out. My style’s different. I need time to work; I like longer matches. And that’s another reason why I entered this championship. Fighting without points is a way of showing the Jiu-Jitsu I believe in, where the art’s effectiveness is more apparent. My grandfather always said, “I never defeated my opponents; they defeated themselves.” It’s the opponent that makes the mistake, and you capitalize on it to win.
Do you trust he’ll make a mistake? You don’t compete too often, and he’s always in the big championships…
Even though I haven’t competed at a World Championship, I train with a lot of high level black belts. Some of these guys have already faced André. Some of them have beat him. Others have lost close matches on points… I train without the gi a lot with my brothers and MMA fighters too. So the main thing I want is to use Helio Gracie’s Jiu-Jitsu, which was about knowing how to defend and survive in any situation. What I know is this: It’ll won’t be easy to tap me out.
I want to see what he has up his sleeve and what he’ll do to surprise me. If I tap, fine… But I plan to have a good gas tank so he wears out and I can start putting pressure on him too. I’ve fought for 50 minutes, an hour many times before. Let’s see how it goes in 20 minutes. All I know is that I haven’t met a lot of people with gas like I’ve got.
How is your training going? Have you watched any of André Galvão’s matches?
I train every day and teach Jiu-Jitsu class, which I see as a really important part of training. I never stop. I never drink. I only eat according to the Gracie Diet. I live and breathe Jiu-Jitsu morning, afternoon and night. I’ve only seen two of his fights. I have to study his game more to drum up a strategy. I’m just starting to see his Jiu-Jitsu, and I admire it too, because as you said, he’s one of the best in the world.
What’s the main lesson you learned from your late grandfather Helio Gracie (1913-2009)?
To my grandfather, Jiu-Jitsu is for everyone. It doesn’t matter if you’re a doctor, teacher, lawyer—Jiu-Jitsu’s for you. In the end his message was this: give Jiu-Jitsu a chance; try it out. A lot of people think it’s only for professionals, for fighters, for healthy athletes; but it’s not. Jiu-Jitsu’s magic is that it’s there for anyone who wants to learn to defend themselves, get in shape, make friends and feel a different kind of energy.
To wrap up, tell us about the success of your “Gracie Breakdown” videos, which were such a hit on the internet that they’re now being broadcast on Fuel TV. Is explaining the moves from the UFC and Strikeforce an innovative way of popularizing Jiu-Jitsu?
We’ve even got a new project on the internet, http://www.keepitplayful.com. I think our plan is to show the world that MMA and Jiu-Jitsu are there side by side. Sometimes I feel like people think so much about MMA that they forget about Jiu-Jitsu. There are fighters starting out in the UFC who don’t know who Helio Gracie was. There are some who don’t even know who Royce was (laughs). So my family is here to not let anyone forget about or leave out Jiu-Jitsu.