It was a fight that made history in Japan, handing the once invincible Gracies their most dramatic loss to date and locking in Sakuraba’s reputation as the Gracie Hunter. Renzo Gracie vs. Kazushi Sakuraba went down in August of 2000 as part of PRIDE FC 10, and ended with Renzo’s arm broken from a kimura he refused to tap from.
Now the two are reportedly set to rematch 18 years later under the ONE Championship banner in a bout that may end up as a real fight or a special rules grappling match. MMA website TheBodyLockMMA reported the news with quotes from Renzo Gracie and ONE Championship CEO Chatri Sityodtong.
Gracie, who was speaking at the ONE Elite Retreat in Boracay, Philippines, announced that he has recently signed to ONE Championship.
Chatri Sityodtong, Chairman and CEO of ONE Championship, confirmed the statement by declaring that Gracie will compete against Kazushi Sakuraba in his debut with the organization.
“He [Renzo] leaked it, but Renzo Gracie will make his debut in ONE Championship. He’s going to fight Sakuraba.”
The possibility of this being a real fight looms large considering Gracie and Sakuraba already engaged in a largely uneventful grappling match at Metamoris 5 in 2014. Sakuraba recently engaged in another grappling match with Frank Shamrock at a RIZIN event in October under grappling rules. The bout was a big disappointment too, with barely anything happening at all.
That seems to be the case all too often when aging legends face off in combat sports: the specter of losing becomes so big that nothing meaningful tends to happen. With Renzo Gracie now 50 and Sakuraba 48, it’s hard to imagine either have much more to give in the cage.
No date has been set for this fight.