Mixed martial arts pioneer Renzo Gracie is ready to step inside the cage once again – even eight years after his last bout.
Back in April of 2010, Gracie was battered by Matt Hughes in UFC 112, the league’s first foray in Abu Dhabi.
Eight years later, the now-51 year old feels younger than ever, as he is set to make his debut for ONE Championship.
“The funny thing is, if you believe you are old at 30, or if you believe that you are very young at 30, both ways, you are right. So you are what you believe,” said Gracie during the press conference for Reign of Kings.
“I believe that I’m better now than I was when I was 25.”
So what has taken Gracie so long to return?
Gracie, who owns a 13-7-1 record, shared that he had never actually retired from the sport and that he was only coming out of a hiatus.
“I never retired. That word gives me goosebumps.
“I never retired, I actually stopped because I was so busy, I have many schools, I have 67 schools all over the world, I was attending to them, I was making jiu-jitsu grow, I was helping Abu Dhabi to implement the jiu-jitsu program,” he disclosed.
Moreover, it’s not about the money.
“I was like, ‘How much do you want?’ and he goes, ‘I want nothing, I want a dollar’,” quipped ONE CEO Chatri Sityodtong. “I said, ‘No, that’s not fair.’
“Anyway, we’re giving him a huge check, so don’t worry, we’re taking good care of him.”
Stepping up to face him is 103-fight veteran Yuki Kondo (60-34-9). According to Gracie, it was his long-time dream to face Kondo. Once the opportunity was there, he had to grab it.
“It was my dream to fight Kondo back in PRIDE, it’s a dream I had 20 years ago, and thanks to ONE Championship, this dream will come true.”
Safe to say, Renzo Gracie is living his life to the fullest.