Pulled from MMAJUNKIE.COM (a great source for MMA news)
For Renzo Gracie, "middle-age crisis" includes defending family's honor
by John Morgan on Feb 16, 2010 at 12:35 pm ET
At 42 years old, it's been more than two years since MMA pioneer Renzo Gracie (13-6-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC) has set foot in a cage.
But this April, Gracie will debut for the UFC on the main card of "UFC 112: Invincible" in Abu Dhabi when he takes on UFC legend and future Hall-of-Famer Matt Hughes (43-7 MMA, 16-5 UFC).
It's a bout rife with storylines, and Gracie recently told MMAjunkie.com Radio (www.mmajunkie.com/radio) that he's in the best shape of his life as he prepares to deal with what his wife calls a "middle-age crisis."
"I'm feeling like a kid," Gracie said. "I lost 27 pounds, and I'm back in the game. I can't wait to fight.
"I'll be 43 when I fight [Hughes]. My wife says instead of buying a motorcycle or a sports car, my middle-age crisis is to get back in the ring."
An eight-time PRIDE veteran, Gracie has also fought under the IFL and EliteXC banners during his lengthy career. But after previous bouts at middleweight, Gracie will now compete at 170 pounds, and he says he's truly focused on just himself for the very first time.
"I'm very fortunate," Gracie said. "I was able to set up all the goals I had before – to set-up my schools and tune-up my business so I could push my art to future generations of my family. I was able to do that, so now my business is running by itself, and I can just concentrate on myself for the first time in my life and just train to fight.
"I believe I'm going to surprise a lot of people."
Gracie currently runs a training academy that oversees 1,100 students. Among those that have been guided by Gracie's tutelage is former welterweight champion Matt Serra – a man Hughes defeated this past May after a lengthy verbal rivalry.
And of course, Hughes also defeated Gracie's cousin, Royce, in a 2006 superfight.
In other words, Renzo has ample motivation.
"I love my cousin," Renzo said. "In that fight, in particular, [Royce] came up short against Matt Hughes. He was having a life that wasn't fit for a fighter. He was working every weekend and doing seminars. He was booked for two years in a row. You can't fight under those circumstances.
"I hope to fight that guy. That's the guy I want to see in April – in that kind of shape. I want to test myself against the best that [Hughes] has ever been. I hope he's in good shape. I believe where Royce came up short, I'm coming up to get the flag. We are a large family, and anywhere a Gracie comes up short, someone should be there to push that thing forward."
Of course, in order to defeat Hughes, Gracie knows he'll have to leave no question as to the result, even if the bout does take place in Abu Dhabi, a location Gracie calls a "second home" after years of traveling to the locale to train some of the area's most wealthy residents.
"Matt Hughes became kind of a hero for the UFC," Gracie said. "It's a guy that has like 40-something fights. To beat him, you have to really beat him.
"You can't go in there and have a tough fight. If you give a little margin to the referees or the judges on the side, they will pull the rope toward him. I know that already, and I'm glad I'm fighting in Abu Dhabi. That's my second home."
And while the Gracie name is synonymous with ground fighting, Renzo knows he must present a well-rounded attack if he hopes to gain control of the action.
"You cant take a wrestler down," Gracie said. "If you've got a Division I wrestler, I'm not taking him down. I will need the striking to take him down. If I get him out of balance by striking, I'm able to shoot, and even a Division I wrestler will end up on his butt. But if you just go in, and he's not afraid of getting hit by you, you're going to be on your back every single time.
"How are you going to take a guy like Matt Hughes down if you're not going to strike? That's the reality."
Gracie's past three wins have been against MMA legends Frank Shamrock, Carlos Newton and Pat Miletich. Adding Hughes to that list would certainly provide Gracie with another impressive feat to add to his already lengthy list of credentials.
But Gracie said he has even more reasons to hope for a win: the fans.
"A lot of fans come up to me and are very angry with [Hughes]," Gracie said. "I don't know if success went to his head or he insulted people in certain ways, but a lot of people come to complain about his attitude. When they come to me, it's like, 'Teach him a lesson.'"
Gracie will try to do just that at UFC 112. But if you think his mid-life crisis will end there, know that he has five more fights in his UFC contract.
"They offered me three (fights), and I said I'll only sign if it's for six," Gracie said. "If I have to dive, I dive head-first."
I don`t know about you...but I can`t wait for this one.