It was a beach day in Rio de Janeiro, the first week of June this year, and Vitor Belfort made the most of the sun and an injured hand to meet up with some buddies of his in the Leblon neighborhood. There, he heard from friend and journalist Carlos Ozório that Marcus Vinicius “Bochecha“, a partner of his at a Las Vegas training camp, had overcome the unbeatable Rodolfo Vieira in an electrifying match at the Jiu-Jitsu World Championship.
Pleased with the news, Belfort remarked: “Bochecha’s good people and a great talent. And he knows his boxing too,” the UFC star said in praise. “I want to get Bochecha into MMA right away. At the camp he told us that MMA wasn’t a goal of his yet, and that first he wanted to beat Rodolfo and become absolute world champion. Well he’s done that now.”
The seductive offer from Vitor Belfort raises the classic debate: After winning a World Championship (or several), should a Jiu-Jitsu superstar stick his neck out in the painful new playing field of MMA and the UFC?
In the opinion of Jiu-Jitsu professor and fighter Renzo Gracie, no path is more natural to take than that one.
“We need more Jiu-Jitsu athletes crossing over to MMA,” opines Renzo Gracie in a recent interview on the SextoRound.com.br website. “Anyone who has dedicated their whole life to becoming a Jiu-Jitsu champion has just what it takes to become an MMA champion, because there’s no tougher sport than ours. The day I made the move to MMA I felt like I’d gone to the beach.”
“You have to do like Ronaldo Jacaré [two-time absolute world champion] did. The moment you’ve accomplished everything there is to accomplish in the gi, it’s time to leave the comfort of the Jiu-Jitsu academy and go throw down, because you have to show the world that our athletes are the best. And we’ve got 20 Jacarés out there,” adds the Gracie.
What do you think, gentle reader? Is the UFC the natural destination for our gi-clad aces? Would you like to see Bochecha and other world champions going toe to toe? Or does it make no difference to you as a fan?