Competitive Jiu-Jitsu has grown exponentially over the last few decades but there are several men who were competing at the highest levels of the sport back when it was in it’s infancy, legends like Rickson Gracie and Rigan Machado. The two men actually met in a match all the way back in 1986, way before the UFC, the IBJJF, or ADCC were even discussed in private. This was a time when discussions about fighter pay for Jiu-Jitsu competitors would’ve sounded ludicrous and you’d have been laughed off the mats if you thought that a six-figure sponsorship deal was physically possible.
Back in the latter part of the 1900s, competitive Jiu-Jitsu matches were put together purely as a test of a skill and a chance for athletes to make a name for themselves within the niche. Of course, as had been true since the very beginning of BJJ, the Gracie family had a stranglehold on the sport and almost all of the top competitors came from within their family. That’s where Rickson Gracie and Rigan Machado come into it, as Rickson was one of many sons of Helio Gracie and Rigan’s aunt had married Helio’s brother, Carlos Gracie.
In 1986, Rigan would have been just 20 years old whereas Rickson was around his athletic prime at the age of 28. This marked a change in pace for the Gracie family because up until that point, any battles between family members were reserved for the training room. This was the first time that a competitive match between two family members played out and it was interesting to see how two different sides of the family compared to one another.
The footage of Rickson Gracie taking on Rigan Machado back in 1986 was uploaded to the official YouTube channel of Jiu Jitsu World:
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