Royce Gracie.

You might wonder why Royce Gracie received a key to the City of Sarasota on Friday. So did we.

Gracie is mixed martial arts royalty around the world. His dad was a Brazilian martial artist who, together with his brothers, founded a fighting style known the world over as Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, perhaps better known as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Royce Gracie, the son who carries that torch high and bright, further popularized the fighting style through his grappling and ground fighting techniques. In 2008, Gracie was ranked by Inside MMA as the third-greatest mixed martial arts fighter of all time. His international fame was sealed when he became the first and only three-time UFC Tournament winner.

Sarasota mayor awards sports celebrity Royce Gracie key to the city.

Mayor Erik Arroyo awarded mixed martial arts superstar Royce Gracie with a key to the city on Friday. He also proclaimed Dec. 12, the sports celebrity's birthday, to be "Royce Gracie Day." Pictured left to right: Mayor Arroyo, Gracie Royce, Dr. Pasquale Montesano and City Commissioner Kyle Battie.

Image: Kim Doleatto

City of Sarasota Mayor Erik Arroyo presented the sports celebrity with a key to the city on Friday and declared Dec. 12 “Royce Gracie Day”–it’s also the day of Gracie’s birthday. Arroyo credits Dr. Pasquale Montesano, an orthopedic spine surgeon who has offices in Sarasota, Tampa, Miami and Beverly Hills, for bringing Gracie to Sarasota and showing him all that the city has to offer. But Arroyo never got back to us to clarify why the city is giving a key to Gracie or how the city decides to name a day in someone's honor. The proclamation the city sent says that Gracie “changed the face of combat sports forever.”

And maybe he’ll change Sarasota. At the key presentation at Sarasota City Hall, the semi-retired fighter said, “We may start looking for a house here next year.” He added that he may also want to snag a space where he could teach his expert skills.

Sarasotans love an international celebrity and we would be delighted to have you. Above all, we hope you had a happy Royce Gracie Day this past Sunday.

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