Renzo Gracie ready for return at ONE Championship’s ‘Reign of Kings’ event

Renzo Gracie will return to action on July 27th, as ONE Championship returns to Manila, for its ‘Reign of Kings’ event.

Gracie will make his first appearance in the ring since his defeat to Matt Hughes in 2010, where he lost via a third-round TKO. The 51-year-old will face fellow veteran Yuki Kondo, in an event that sees double champion Martin Nguyen attempt to win a third belt – this time in the Bantamweight division.

Gracie (13-7-1) will look to get back on track here in the Philippines and rediscover the form that saw him take victories over legends such as Frank Shamrock, and Pat Miletitch. Kondo will also look to get back in the win column after his second-round stoppage loss to Jutaro Nakao last December.

Its a Thursday afternoon on a warm day in Cardiff, as I find myself running back to the office. When the chance comes to speak with Renzo Gracie you don’t say no. A descendant of the Gracie family, founders of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and a pioneer in the sport of Mixed Martial Arts, Gracie is one of the finest minds in the world of combat sport. At 6 pm the phone rings and Master Renzo Gracie is on the other end of the line.

We’ve seen the story many times before – an old veteran returning to the sport for one last shot at glory – glory or despair. More often than not it ends in the latter, though something here seems different. Speaking from his home in New York, Gracie seems invigorated ahead of his matchup with Kondo. He feels better now than he did when he was 25, he tells me and wishes the fight was now instead of next week. Listening to the passion and conviction from this seasoned pro I am inclined to believe him.

The full interview with Renzo Gracie conducted by Lewis Smith of MMA UK.

Hi Renzo, you’ve got a fight coming up on July 27th against Yuki Kondo, could you talk to us about your preparation for this match, and what it was that made you want to get back in there at 51 years of age?

RG: Above all the love of the sport. It’s difficult to let go you know. The training was very good, and I’ve been training for over a year and a half now – in smart ways that would prevent injury – and I’m feeling great. I’m actually feeling better now than I was when I was 25.

And how much does it mean for you to get a win against a fellow veteran in Kondo?

RG: Yuki Kondo has some amazing fights in his career, and beat some unbelievable BJJ guys. He gave hell to some of the best guys in our time and I’ve had my eye on him even back as far as the ‘Pride’ days. So the moment they offered me the fight I couldn’t say no. It’s always exciting to know you will be fighting a guy who can beat you bad.

You’ll be fighting for ONE Championship in Manila, what has your experience with ONE been like so far?

RG: My dear friend that is the beauty of age. I was in a unique place in time where I could see ONE Championship being thought of, and then created. It’s an honour to be a part of their event now, and an even bigger honour to be competing for them. The job they are doing is amazing, and to be honest I don’t see how this company can fail. It’s going to explode.

As you’ve said you were in a unique place in time with the development of MMA, but what do you think are the biggest differences between now and when you first began?

RG: Now its become professional it’s much better because fighters can actually make a career out of it, but I really think it took too long as this is the best sport in the world. Our sport is the most intense. You’ve got two Olympic level athletes trying to take each other’s heads off. In NASCAR people go to see the crash, in hockey people, go to see the fight. In our sport, you see the crash. In our sport, you see the fight because that’s what we do. Intensity is the other name for our sport.

Can we get a prediction for your fight on July 27th?

RG: I see myself winning. In every way, I envision this fight I see victory, and I hope Yuki Kondo is in the best shape of his life because I feel great. For me, it’s just another day in the office because I train every day with the top guys. I spar, I get my ass kicked, I kick their ass, and every day I am able to test myself and see my level.

Join Our WhatsApp Group

Join our UFC WhatsApp fan group and discuss the latest UFC events and news