In a clash between two true mixed martial arts legends, Renzo Gracie and Yuki Kondo were out to prove that age is just a number at ONE: REIGN OF KINGS.
Gracie – the elder of the veteran competitors at 51 – brought his experience to bear in Manila, the Philippines on 27 July, submitting his 43-year-old opponent with a rear naked choke at the 1:40 mark of the second round.
Gracie’s eight-year absence from the cage was evident in round one, as he was extremely tentative, trying to figure out his Japanese adversary’s movements.
Kondo, whose previous bout was last December, looked sharper – probing with his jab and inside low kicks.
However, both men were hesitant to engage in a meaningful way, which prompted referee Olivier Coste to brandish the yellow card and force the action.
As they came out for round two, it appeared that both athletes had taken heed of the warning. Gracie, in particular, decided to move forward, and he darted in for a takedown behind a right hand.
The Brazilian immediately took his opponent’s back and wasted no time in sinking in a tight rear-naked choke, to the delight of a jubilant crowd inside the Mall of Asia Arena.
Speaking post-fight, Gracie said: “The first round was the study. I know he hits very hard.
“I know exactly how he defends the takedown. When he sprawled, I went to his back, took him down and did what my family have been doing for over 100 years – choking people.”
The upbeat star seemed positive about his time in the cage, so this may not be the last we see of the pioneering grappler, despite his advanced age.