It could all be bluster or an attempt to get publicity, but my sense tells me he's not exaggerating. Royce Gracie, UFC Hall of Famer and the first key figure in North American MMA, appears to be close to obtaining a fight on the UFC: Rio event in August later this year. He told UOL Esportes the following:
"It would be the perfect place to do my last fight. I never fought in Rio de Janeiro and I couldn't be more psyched. We are negotiating [the fight deal], but we should have it finalized in two weeks. We only had an initial contact and I don't even have an opponent yet, but we should have that finalized soon" said the 44 year old Gracie.
He also touched on his weight:
"My weight is the same as it was twenty years ago [80kg], I am still training, keeping the blade sharp. I follow a very strict diet. I never drank, never party, Carnaval, none of that... I'm ready to fight"
If you're doing the math, 80kg is approximately 176lbs. Gracie could fight at either welterweight or middleweight or even more likely, catchweight.
Ordinarily I'd be very opposed to the idea of Gracie continuing to compete. His game is in no way prepared for MMA in 2011. He's long since past his expiration date as a competitive athlete and his last MMA fight in June of 2007 was marred by a lackluster performance followed by a positive test for steroid use. Gracie also never formally addressed the punishments handed down by the California State Athletic Commission, thereby making him likely ineligible to fight anywhere in the U.S. or North America.
But this is Brazil and this is very likely his retirement tour. As culpable as Gracie is for his own misconduct and slightly tarnished legacy, it wouldn't kill the UFC to allow one of MMA's foremost pioneers the opportunity to end his career on more favorable terms by granting him one last fight in his home country, the very country responsible for much of MMA's worldwide success.
More on this story as it develops.