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Wednesday, Jun 19, 2002

Heating Up For Pride 21:it’s Party Time For Renzo

By Eduardo Alonso

Heating up for PRIDE 21:
It’s party time for Renzo

      Respected by everyone in the fight game, Renzo Gracie is truly one of the nicest people you will ever meet in your life, both as a person and as a fighter. Known for not picking opponents, Renzo truly loves what he does and his passion for fighting translates into his behavior, his fighting-style and even his students. After testing himself against some of the best fighters in the world, and suffering some bumps in the road — like against Sakuraba and Dan Henderson — Gracie has not looked back, he continues to improve and train harder and harder to compete again, just for the sake of competing and fighting!
Renzo Gracie
      How many fighters in Renzo’s position would be testing themselves so often against some of the best, even though he is out-weighed by most, if not all, of his opponents? Probably not many, but he simply doesn’t care about reputations or living off of past accomplishments. Renzo Gracie just wants to be himself and do what he loves the most, and finally after several months waiting he will be back in the ring in Japan! On June 23rd, it will be party time for Renzo, as he will face Japanese fighter, KOTC and PRIDE veteran Shungo Oyama. In a conversation just two days before he left for Japan, Renzo stopped his class in New York to speak with us about his next fight, his training and his views on the fight game as FCF is feeling the heat for PRIDE 21!

FCF:   You were always one of the most active fighters, not only from the Gracie family, but from Jiu-Jitsu in NHB as well. You’re finally returning to fight in PRIDE for the first time since PRIDE 17. How was it for you to wait all this time to fight again?
Renzo:   It sucked! I have been preparing to fight in the last three PRIDE events, since PRIDE 17. But it goes this way; maybe it was even good for me to wait a little more because I had the chance to train even more. I’m in one of the best shapes of my life, I managed to put on some weight in a lean way, with little fat, and so in the end this entire wait was satisfactory.

FCF:   In the past you had some problems gaining weight because of your tough schedule! You train, teach classes, take care of your family and your students. How do you manage to reconcile the life of a professional fighter with all those other responsibilities?
Renzo:   I have to do it all! I’m a father of three kids! So it’s the wife, the kids, the dogs, everything. [Laughs] And I also have to train and teach classes, because I’m the main professor here. I think the major factor that drives me to do all of this is the passion I have for what I do. This makes me never feel tired, so as tired as I may get, I’m always standing up and doing what I have to do! There’s no other way brother, it has to be done so we’ll do it.

FCF:   You are known for not picking opponents and always wanting to face top-level competition, like Maurice Smith, Dan Henderson, Sakuraba and Kikuta, among others. Do you get somehow frustrated when the event opts to put you against a supposedly less competitive athlete?
Renzo:   Without a doubt I don’t like it very much. Because I think that this type of fighting [NHB]… it’s a chance you have to measure your skills against another competitive fighter. So, when they start to bring less expressive fighters… even though Oyama, this guy I’m going to face now, is a very tough guy! People have a bit of a wrong notion about him because they only watched the two PRIDEs he fought in. He was still very nervous there, and didn’t know how to control things. But I had the chance to watch him fighting some submission wrestling against some good Japanese fighters and he gave quite a show in terms of grappling skills, some good takedowns and beautiful submissions. But unfortunately, he not only had bad luck in PRIDE but he also wasn’t prepared to face an event of that size, with fighters of that importance, back then. But he is a tough guy, I have to be very careful, he strikes very hard! But without a doubt I would prefer to fight against other fighters. If I could chose, I would chose other opponents, but if the event thinks it needs to be one of those guys, I can’t do anything about it.

FCF:   Do you think that because of the name you established in NHB, and because you’re a Gracie, you now will have to face almost only Japanese fighters in PRIDE?
Renzo:   I think they try to do a show for the Japanese public. I believe when we’re facing Japanese fighters, it creates bigger ticket sales. Now they’re running out of options, I already went at it against almost everyone there brother. [Laughs] But they do the show for Japan, I even think this is one of the factors that when Rickson fights, he always fights against a Japanese fighter, because this is what is marketable for Japan.

Click here to continue the interview

From Josh Hedges/Zuffa:

A Message to the Fans
from UFC President Dana White

Hey everyone,

I want to thank all of you for your patience and support while we put this FOX show together. I know there are a million questions why we did this and why we did that. For me to explain the law BS and the politics of television would take forever. What is important right now is we are here!!! The sport will be on free TV for the first time!!

In the last year we have got back on PPV, legal in Nevada and many other key states, played Mandalay Bay and MGM, on TV in many other countries, getting mainstream newspapers and news play and now free TV. Our sport is coming out. Over the last year my team and I have killed ourselves (literally) and worked very hard to get the UFC where it is now, and you the fans have been huge in helping!!!! Selling out Mandalay Bay two weeks after Sept 11th, coming back a month later and selling 8500 seats at MGM, selling out 10,000 seats at Mohegan, etc, etc.

But right now is a critical time for the sport. We need to show these TV people just how many fans there are. I need all of you that read this forum every day to go to FOX’s website reader board and post about how happy you are that we are on free TV!! Even if you can’t get the BDSSP at your home, still let them know you’re pumped that the sport is getting its dues. Then, everyone needs to tune in the day of the show and tell all your buddies to watch. This is it guys, what we have all been waiting for!!!

Thanks for your support. See you Saturday.

Dana White

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posted by Full Contact Fighter @ 8:00 pm
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