I was in utter shock the entire match.
Royce looked slow and unusually passive. I hate to play the age card here, but I saw Royce move when he was younger fighter and he was incredibly fast on the ground....like the first Shamrock fight when he was briefly on the losing end of a mount and ZIP, he escaped in a second.
My first hint that this would happen was watching his training tape, where he aimlessly pawed his arms and legs in the air in an attempt to improve his striking.
I love Royce with all my strength, but this fight broke my heart.
In in late Nineties, I went to a Royce seminar in Denver where he was watching me roll with another beginner who was much bigger than I. I got excited because I escaped the mount into half guard and I saw that his neck was for the taking (guilotine!). I greedily wrapped around, ignoring that I only had a half.
Royce scolded me a bit, telling me that I was too eager to finish him. "Be patient. You have to clear the leg into guard before you try that move. Position before submission."
I never forgot those words.
Seeing Royce do the exact same thing against Hughes tonight made me want to cry. Hughes looked on the top of his game, but I agree with those saying that Royce look defeated before he stepped into the ring.
That didn't look like Royce out there.