Renzo Wants to Surprise at UFC 112

By Jake Rossen Feb 16, 2010
By the standards of Spike television and Las Vegas gates, Renzo Gracie’s career has been shaded by a degree of obscurity. His first major appearance in the States was 1995’s ill-fated World Combat Championship pay-per-view, an unfortunate me-too attempt to capitalize on the UFC’s popularity. After another DOA promotion -- MARS -- Renzo wisely exiled himself to Japan, land of bigger paydays and due respect.

Because of this trajectory, it’s possible a lot of fans are unable to recognize Renzo for what he was: far and away the most impressive Gracie to ever compete in fighting. At an uncut 185 pounds, Renzo finished off two former UFC heavyweight champions in Mo Smith and Oleg Taktarov; at 38, he went the distance with B.J. Penn; a 2006-07 run netted three victories over three former UFC champions in the welterweight and middleweight divisions.

Credit for those victories goes to durability largely absent from the careers of Royce and Royler. Like Rickson, he had the physicality to play games other than the guard.

Whether those skills should be considered in the past or present tense is a question for April 12: Gracie, who has been making the media rounds for his fight with Matt Hughes in Abu Dhabi, told he wants to “surprise” audiences with a strong performance at the age of 43. Even considering his recent slide, though, Hughes may not be the best opponent for a middle-aged jiu-jitsu technician. He is an effective tormenter from the top, and his wrestling can decide where he wants the fight to take place.

Win or lose, Renzo’s career has always deserved a place of prominence in the U.S. He’s finally getting it.
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