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UFC Week takes over Toronto and the return of Royce Gracie

Attended a UFC 129 media shmoozer at Real Sports Bar last night. Ryan Bader, Chuck Liddell, bantamweight champ Dominick Cruz (whom many didn’t appear to recognize), octagon girl Chandella Powell and a few others wandered about, eating oysters and drinking the free booze and chatting with folks, although many seemed more interested in watching the Boston Bruins end the Montreal Canadiens’ season on the wall-sized TV than really carrying on a conversation.

That is to say, it was a low-key evening, a calm before the storm of what has turned into UFC Week. More than 100 UFC fighters are in town for Saturday’s historic UFC 129 and the UFC Fan Expo and countless other meet-and-greets, autograph signings, Q&As, parties and general MMA madness. The only way I can describe it is that it’s like the Toronto International Film Festival in Affliction shirts.

Among the swag handed out at the door on the way out was a copy of the Ultimate Royce Gracie DVD, which I’m looking forward to digging into post-UFC 129. Gracie was also at the event, albeit briefly (like a rock star he was hit-and-run).

And while he says he’s in town to promote the DVD, obviously his desire to compete at August’s UFC in Rio has to play into it, doesn’t it? This is a chance to grab some spotlight, show the UFC brass how big a draw he still is (at age 44). And sure, it would be a promotional boon to have Gracie on the Rio card, but I really don’t want to see him fight, and I definitely don’t want to see him rematch Matt Hughes in a super-fight, as has been hinted (at least by Gracie). There’s no value in watching him get beat and he would get beat.

Then again, what if it was a super-fight between Gracie and say, Renzo Gracie? Or perhaps a no gi grappling exhibition? Not as a main event, obviously, or even as a co-main event, but as some sort of Super Bowl halftime show. I’d tune in for that. Wouldn’t you?

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