On April 10, 2010, Renzo Gracie will have the weight of the world on his shoulders as he steps into the octagon against former two-time UFC welterweight champion Matt Hughes.
Renzo Gracie is a BJJ expert and Gracie Barra black belt. He is part of MMA royalty as a member of the Gracie family. On the night of UFC 112, he will fight for the family name.
The match has all the makings of a Hollywood blockbuster. The storyline is compelling and has a lot of history behind it. A feared and hated warrior conquered the beloved family members and students. Now one man is the last hope to avenge the family.
Hughes made a controversial statement prior to the Royce Gracie fight back in 2006.
Hughes said, “The Gracie name means nothing to me. He’s just another opponent. The Gracie’s think that Gracie Jiu-Jitsu is all you need to win and that’s wrong. BJ Penn could take him, Georges St. Pierre could take him, there’s a bunch of people in the welterweight division who could take him. Winning the first two UFCs means nothing.”
Hughes dominated Renzo’s cousin, UFC legend Royce Gracie, at UFC 60.
Hughes later would feud with Matt Serra, a Renzo Gracie black belt, during the Ultimate Fighter 6 show. Hughes would go on to defeat Serra at UFC 98.
Hughes has already been to Abu Dhabi, the location of UFC 112, when he defeated Gracie standout student Ricardo Almeida in an ADCC championship match in 2000.
Renzo Gracie is coming off three victories over MMA legends Frank Shamrock, Carlos Newton, and Pat Miletich. There are some who would say Renzo never looked better than in those victories.
Renzo, however, has not fought in nearly two years. Renzo stated, “I’m feeling like a kid. I lost 27 pounds and I’m back in the game. I can’t wait to fight.”
Renzo Gracie’s schools and businesses are at a point where they are running themselves, according to Renzo. He said that now he is concentrating on himself for the first time and is only training to fight.
Gracie said, “I believe I’m going to surprise a lot of people.”
Gracie and Hughes have not fueled the fight with any disrespectful interviews. Hughes actually gave Renzo praise in a comment he made that cited Renzo as the best of the Gracie clan.
“I’ve always said that from the beginning, if you want to fight the best Gracie, you need to fight Renzo, and I still say that. He’s the best one carrying the name in my opinion.”
“I’ve watched (Hughes) develop from just a pure sport-wrestler to a well-rounded mixed martial artist,” Renzo Gracie said. “I have a lot of respect for the guy’s fighting ability and his achievements. I admire his work ethic and longevity.”
Despite his obvious intent to avenge Royce’s loss, Renzo knows that Hughes is one of his strongest opponents of his career.
Matt Hughes secured a multi-fight deal with the UFC in 2009.
Renzo Gracie recently signed a six-fight contract with UFC that guarantees we will see more of him in the octagon.
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