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Mixed martial arts (MMA) and jiu-jitsu athlete Renzo Gracie will battle Japanese MMA fighter/professional wrestler Kazushi Sakuraba at Metamoris 5 on November 22 in Long Beach, California. The grappling only matchup has been 14 years in the making: the last time Gracie and Sakuraba squared off, Sakuraba defeated Gracie by breaking his arm in a kimura lock but Gracie never tapped out.
Under Metamoris rules, the winner must win by submission during the 20-minute match or it’s a draw. Gracie is eager to avenge the defeats of fellow Gracie family members Royce, Ryan and Royler at the hands of Sakuraba.
“I think I’ve improved a lot from that time but I want to make sure that I actually got better,” says Gracie. “I’m feeling great and I’ll try to impose my game to make him submit.”
Gracie got invited to the Sakuraba rematch about three months ago and since then he’s lost 25 pounds from consistent training. A typical day of preparation included a 45-minute morning run/ride, a training session at his fight academy in New York, weight training at home, then another 45-minute run/bike ride. On Saturdays, Gracie does the running and biking in the same session, averaging 40 miles biking daily, followed by fight training.
“Lifting weights is very important to keep you strong and in good shape,” says Gracie. “I do a lot of plyometrics with weights and heavy lifting like deadlifts, Olympic lifting, and pulling exercises.”
To prepare for the grappling contest, the Brazilian cut striking from his training, not a big deal for a guy who says jiu-jitsu defines his character. Gracie says that although he loves utilizing the guillotine choke, he’ll apply whatever submission Sakuraba becomes a target for.
“Jiu-jitsu is everything I am so if you take it away from me, I’m an empty shell,” says Gracie. “It’s not about beating someone up, it’s about using it so that you can walk with your head up without fear. This is what I’ve learned more and more as time goes by.”
In 2015, the famed fighter looks to make a splash in the combat sports world. Gracie is scheduled to face former UFC Champion Matt Hughes in an Abu Dhabi Combat Club “superfight” in September. He also plans return to the octagon by February and wants a shot at a top fighter. “I’m looking forward to UFC for sure,” says Gracie. “I’d like them to give me one of the top 10 ranked fighters.”
Metamoris 5, Long Beach Convention Center, Long Beach, CA. Tickets and live PPV webcast available at metamoris.com. First match: 2:00 PDT.