A 6th Degree Black Belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under the legendary Carlos Gracie Jr., Renzo Gracie was one of the first Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioners to compete in modern day full-contact unarmed combat sports or No Holds Barred (NHB) fighting like Vale Tudo and Mixed Martial Arts (MMA).
And having competed in almost every major MMA organization during his time in the sport including the UFC, PRIDE, K-1, and the IFL, Renzo has beaten five former UFC champions over the course of almost 19 years in the sport. Today, he is a highly revered and world famous Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu coach who has helped trained some of the sport’s greatest fighters such as Georges St-Pierre, Chris Weidman, Frankie Edgar, Matt Serra and more.
So without further ado, Evolve Daily presents 5 Of Renzo Gracie’s Best MMA Fights:
1) Vs. Pat Miletich – IFL: Gracie vs. Miletich
The first ever UFC Welterweight Champion and recent UFC Hall of Fame inductee Pat Miletich was one of the most talented and dominant welterweights the sport has ever seen. Much like Renzo Gracie, Miletich is a world-renowned trainer and coach who has helped produce several world champions like Robbie Lawler, Matt Hughes, Tim Sylvia, Jens Pulver and more.
So when the two met in 2006 at International Fight League 9, it was billed as a master vs. master match for the ages. The fight began with both fighters staying cautious and sizing one another up. And after a brief moment of inactivity, Miletich closed in and the two fighters ended up in a clinch.
With his back against the ropes in the clinch, Gracie wrapped his arms around Miletich, holding on to him in a front headlock. And once the time was right, Gracie jumped up, wrapped his legs around the back of Miletich and applied a guillotine choke. Miletich struggled to survive but the choke was too tight and he was left with no choice but to tap, giving Gracie the win via submission with just a little more than minute left in the first round.
2) Vs. James Warring – WCC 1: First Strike
In only his fourth fight, Gracie faced off against boxing and kickboxing world champion, James Warring in the finals of the World Combat Championships tournament with the world title on the line. As usual, Gracie was heavily outmatched in size and strength, and in this case, in striking ability as well.
But Gracie stayed composed and patient waiting for the right time to attack. And when the time came, he shot in for a single leg and took Warring down. On the ground, Gracie dominated, attacking Warring to the face with headbutts and punches before slipping in a beautiful ezekiel choke to end the fight.
3) Vs. Oleg Taktarov – Martial Arts Reality Superfighting
Russian Sambo and Judo practitioner Oleg Taktarov is a UFC tournament champion known for his stone cold persona in the cage and for using flashy acrobatic Sambo takedowns against his opponents. After leaving the UFC, Taktarov faced Renzo Gracie at the Martial Arts Reality Superfighting event in 1996. With both men being seasoned grapplers, many expected the two to have a heated contest on the ground. But that never came to fruition as Gracie was able to knock Taktarov out with an up kick off his back followed by crushing right hand to finish the job.
4) Vs. Sanae Kikuta – PRIDE 2
Former Pancrase light heavyweight champion and 2001 ADCC 88kg class champion Sanae Kikuta is one the most successful Japanese mixed martial artists and submission grapplers of all time. And as expected, Kikuta’s showdown with Gracie at PRIDE 2 in 1998 was a world-class grappling contest. For five full rounds the two fighters battled for takedowns and submissions on the ground. Until Gracie was finally able to catch Kikuta in a tight guillotine choke early in the sixth round, forcing the Japanese MMA legend to tap out from the pressure.
5) Vs. Phil Benedict – WCC 1: First Strike
Weighing in at 200 pounds with a background in freestyle wrestling, Phil Benedict is certainly one of the biggest and strongest opponents Gracie has ever shared the MMA cage or ring with. Staying cautious, Gracie utilized his jab consistently, keeping the much larger Benedict at bay. But Benedict’s frustration started to show and he started to charge in with wild punches.
However, Benedict’s aggression would prove to be his downfall as he gets taken down and mounted very quickly by Gracie after missing all of his punches. From there, Gracie rained down punches, bloodying Benedict and forcing the referee to step in.
From its bare knuckle days to the fastest growing sport in the world today, Renzo Gracie has certainly played a huge part in the success of Mixed Martial Arts.