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Renzo Gracie on Facing Sakuraba Tomorrow: “It’s Going to Be Fun!”

Renzo Gracie on Facing Sakuraba Tomorrow: “It’s Going to Be Fun!”

Renzo Gracie has never been one to back away from a challenge. Simply put, he’s fought just about everywhere, against just about everyone. And that’s just how he likes it.

Fourteen years ago, in the now-defunct PRIDE FC organization, several members of Gracie’s family were feuding with Japanese MMA star Kazushi Sakuraba. They debated rules of engagement, argued about time limits, and so on. But Renzo didn’t care about any of that; he agreed to fight Sakuraba under the same rules as any other PRIDE bout.

The resulting Sakuraba vs Gracie bout, at PRIDE 10 in Saitama, Japan, is seen as one of MMA’s all time classics — with Sakuraba (pictured above) eventually earning a victory with a Kimura lock.

Tomorrow, Renzo Gracie gets his opportunity to avenge that loss. But it won’t be in Japan, and it won’t even be under MMA rules. The two will meet at Metamoris, Renzo’s cousin Ralek’s grappling event, in Long Beach, CA.

“It doesn’t matter to me,” the 47 year old Renzo said to Guilherme Cruz of MMA Fighting. “They could do a match with no time limit. I compete under any rules, and in this case, it’s a 20-minute submission-only match. Submission or draw, 20 minutes. It’s going to be fun.”

“His game is focused on MMA, so it’s hard to train for someone like that,” Renzo said of his old rival, who made his name in pro wrestling prior to switching to MMA. “He’s always dangerous. You can’t underestimate a guy like that. He’s dangerous from any position. He’s unorthodox, he doesn’t follow a clear line of attack. He does whatever goes in his mind, so that makes him unpredictable. It’s a challenge.”

“I talked to a lot of guys I know that trained with him, and everybody talked about the quality of his grappling, that he’s dangerous all the time,” he continued. “It’s going to be a 20-minute war. It’s going to be fun.”

Gracie will later meet another old opponent, Matt Hughes, in a grappling match at ADCC.

Renzo Gracie fights BJ Penn in a 2005 MMA bout.

Renzo Gracie fights BJ Penn in a 2005 MMA bout.

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