However, on Thursday, that veneer was crushed when the California State Athletic Commission revealed the 40-year-old Brazilian tested positive in both "A" and "B" samples for traces of Nandrolone, a commonly used anabolic steroid.
Currently vacationing in Spain after defeating Kazushi Sakuraba (Pictures) on points, Gracie e-mailed Sherdog.com to refute the CSAC report.
"I have never in my 14-year fighting carrier [sic] taken anything other then natural supplements and natural proteins," said Gracie, who was paid $300,000 to fight. "As such, I am shocked that anything was found in my system."
The early June bout marked the first time Gracie -- who competed five times in Japan from 2000-2005 after taking half a decade away from the ring following 13 unregulated UFC contests on American soil -- was required to undergo tests for steroids conducted by a regulatory body.
Though Gracie fought Matt Hughes (Pictures) on May 27, 2006 in Los Angeles, California was not testing for anabolic agents at that point, said CSAC Executive Officer Armando Garcia.
"I am looking into this issue right now and will file an appeal with the CSAC," Gracie's e-mail continued. "I have been training [for] this fight since October of 2006, as initially the show was supposed to be on March 15th. Over the course of training I have taken legal supplements that are available in GNC to anyone that wants to get them. Outside of that I have never taken anything nor ever would consider taking anything."
Cytosport, which produces the widely used "Muscle Milk" brand of supplements, lists Gracie alongside fellow fighter Nick Diaz (Pictures) and others, including Minnesota Twins pitcher Joe Nathan, as sponsored athletes.
According to Mike Kogan, who helped promote the June 2 "Dynamite!! USA" Fight Entertainment Group card, Gracie was awoken by phone calls at 4:30 Friday morning informing him of the news.
Closing out the short two-paragraph message, Gracie (14-3-3) wrote: "My good name is all I have and I do not want my fans to think that I would ever be [involved] with anything like this."
Pending appeal, which Gracie (14-3-3) must file for by July 13, the CSAC has suspended the slender Brazilian from June 2, 2007 through May 30, 2008, and fined him the maximum $2,500.