x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Ultimate Fighting champ can do it with his eyes shut

Fans from across the country went to the Contender MMA Centre to meet and train with Royce Gracie.

Three-time Ultimate Fighting Championship winner and mixed martial arts legend Royce Gracie returns to Dubai to lead a seminar.
Three-time Ultimate Fighting Championship winner and mixed martial arts legend Royce Gracie returns to Dubai to lead a seminar.

DUBAI // It takes considerably more than the dark to spook a three-time Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) winner.

So when the lights went out on Royce Gracie's fourth annual jiu-jitsu seminar in Dubai yesterday due to a power cut, no one was surprised when the event went on regardless.

"I'm used to teaching classes in the dark," said Gracie, a mixed martial arts (MMA) pioneer.

"I do that for some of my advanced classes to help them concentrate on their weight displacement and leverage rather than just their sight, but then it's usually much darker than this."

Fans from across the country went to the Contender MMA Centre to meet and train with Gracie.

He demonstrated the basic techniques of self-defence, judo and jiu-jitsu, and put some experienced pupils to the test to see if they had advanced enough for a new belt.

The kickboxing champion Chalid Arrab was a surprise participant.

"The dark didn't affect me at all," said Arrab, a veteran of more than 50 professional fights. "This sport relies more on feeling your way around than seeing."

Muneer Lazeez, a Tunisian, was eager to have his first session with Gracie since making his professional MMA debut this month at DFC Fight Night in Dubai.

"This is my second seminar with Royce Gracie," said Lazeez. " I love the way he thinks as a grappler. "I've trained with grapplers who were just about power and strength. Royce teaches you to fight smart."

Tam Khan, owner of Contender and a Gracie student with a purple belt, said: "This is the only official Royce Gracie-certified jiu-jitsu centre and we have the only full-time Royce Gracie black belt instructor, Amin Touati."

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