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UFC 288, The Morning After: Why are we still doing The Gracie Experiment in 2023?

I love jiu-jitsu.

It’s my favorite martial art. I’ve been on the mats since 2009, a 14-year span that accounts for little more than half my time on this Earth. I’ve taught jiu-jitsu for many years, and submission skills are primarily responsible for all of my amateur and professional mixed martial arts (MMA) wins. I plan to roll for the rest of my life, and I have the famous Rickson Gracie quote that embodies the art, “flow with the go,” carved into my ribs.

So, keep in mind that it’s me asking the following questions. Namely, why the f—k were we all forced to endure Kron Gracie vs. Charles Jourdain in 2023? Better yet, why were we expected to pay for it on the main card of a UFC pay-per-view (PPV)?

I don’t mean to go all CURRENT YEAR on everyone, but it was absurd. Gracie — who collided with Canadian striker, Charles Jourdain, in UFC 288’s opening PPV bout last night (Sat., May, 6, 2023) in Newark — disappeared for the better part of four years and came back without the slightest hint of improvement. His boxing lesson at the hands of Cub Swanson did not serve to improve his hands, nor did he double down on offensive wrestling in the hopes of avoiding the stand up entirely.

If anything, he looked worse everywhere.

The numbers back that idea up, as Gracie landed 86 significant strikes on Swanson compared to just 32 against “Air” Jourdain. It was beyond frustrating, as Gracie was butt-scooting around the cage and jumping guard in the center of the Octagon like it was the late ‘90s dark ages of MMA.

None of this has any reason to be on a modern UFC broadcast.

Gracie is a spectacular grappler, and his jiu-jitsu is wildly fun to watch in the correct context. However, the second he made it clear that he didn’t intend to embrace kickboxing, wrestling and modern MMA, we all knew the result. We’ve already seen this story play out multiple times.

The Gracie Experiment — relying solely on BJJ in the cage — served its purpose in the founding days of UFC and helped form MMA as we know it. The days where jiu-jitsu alone is enough to win at even a mildly high level are so far gone, it’s absurd. Kazushi Sakuraba was kicking Gracie’s ass in 1999, and Matt Hughes served as a demonstration of MMA’s growth in 2006 by beating up Royce Gracie on the floor inside the Octagon.

Seventeen years ago, it was MAYBE an interesting storyline to those unaware of PRIDE. Nowadays, it’s just a miserable viewing experience with an incredibly predictable ending.

No more.

For complete UFC 288: “Sterling vs. Cejudo” results and play-by-play, click HERE.

This story originally appeared on MMA Mania

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