K-1 ROTR - Penn Schools Gracie in Hawaii

B.J. Penn vs. Rodrigo Gracie

Nov 21, 2004
No Hawaiian had won on the card through the nine preceding bouts, and so the main event, ( the fight everyone was waiting for) was the last chance at glory for the Aloha State. This, even before the first bell, was incredibly dramatic. The fighters stared at one another, and such was the drama that repeatedly the crowd was on its feet.

The Gracies of Brazil are fightsport's most revered family, so rich is their fighting heritage that their name is synonymous with Jiu-jitsu in Brazil. They have the pedigree, but Penn, a Hawaiian, had the tiki gods on his side. Explained one Mike Gecko, Hawaii's most respected tiki artist, a man devoted to a celebration of the mythological pan-Polynesian man-god and all his incarnations: "The tiki named 'Ku' is a war god of Hawaii, and our Great King Kamehameha had carvings of Ku on Big Island to strike fear in the hearts of any evil spirits or enemies. This is a sacred part of our tradition, and because we are all family in Hawaii, I am sure that 'Ku' was in Penn's corner for the fight."

Are Hawaiians that spiritual. Yes indeed, said Malani Alemeda, a one-time schoolmate of BJ's who flew in from Hilo City to see his old pal fight. "Hawaiians are not humans who have spiritual experiences," he said, "we are spirits having human experiences!"

The bout began with both fighters focused and cautious, Gracie attempting a takedown but Penn scurrying deftly, sideways like a crab on the beach, to make it to the cage and stay on his feet. Here, the two remained locked up, Gracie with his legs spread and pressing forward as a fulcrum, occasionally firing in a punch. Penn turned the tide midway through the first, and the fight had gone to the ground at the buzzer, although neither fighter had a clear advantage through the round.

What was apparent was that Penn was relaxed -- never rushing, always sure of himself. In the second, Penn got in on a side mount, and worked the elbows and knees with increasing brutality. Here, also, a trend emerged -- as Gracie pushed away then elected to stay on his back and keep Penn at bay with bicycle kicks. Penn did not want to go into Gracie's guard, instead he patiently made several passes with punches and occasional leaping stomps. Late in the round the two went to the mat again. Twisted up tightly, Penn began mashing his opponent into the cage, all the while coolly earning points with tight hooks.

In the third Gracie seemed really off his form, again staying on his back with the bicycle kicks while Penn brought a far more varied attack -- locking up the legs and passing in quickly with punches, leaping over for stamps, showing maturity and poise throughout. It was an easy call for the judges -- unanimous decision for Penn.

Said BJ afterwards: "I'm happy with the fight, I believe in three words -- 'never give up,!' I had asked for a no time limit fight, because I wanted to finish him, but that's the way it goes, and I'm happy with the fight, the crowd was as I expected, full of love and support!"

Produced by Jay Dee Penn in association with the K-1 Fighting Network, Rumble on the Rock attracted a sellout crowd of almost 13,000 to the Neal Blaisdell Center. It was pay-per-view broadcast in the United States and Japan, and will be shown on a delayed basis in a number of other countries -- check with you local provider for scheduling information. Find the Official results here.
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