ONE Championship will be rolling out the red carpet for a revered martial arts legend on Friday, 27 July as Brazil’s Renzo Gracie is set to make both his comeback and promotional debut in the Singapore-based organization.
Gracie, whose family introduced the discipline known as “The gentle art” to the world as an essential component of mixed martial arts competition, is slated to duke it out with fellow promotional debutant and three-division King Of Pancrase Yuki Kondo at ONE: REIGN OF KINGS in Manila, Philippines.
Still going strong at the age of 51, Gracie did not mince words about his excitement to wear four-ounce gloves for the first time in eight years.
“To be able to come back after all these years and do this again, it seems surreal to me,” he quipped.
“For me, I’ve always been talking about life and following your passion. Mixed martial arts and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu are an avenue for me to exemplify desire, diligence, discipline, dedication, character, integrity, and pride for my culture,” Gracie added.
Gracie expressed his gratitude to ONE Championship head honcho Chatri Sityodtong for extending his hand to host his return to action.
“I have been preparing a long time for this. I would like to thank Chatri Sityodtong and ONE Championship for the opportunity, for giving me the global stage once again, and for allowing me to satisfy my craving for competition. This one is for the fans,” he said.
Although it was more sensible for the New Jersey-based Brazilian submission specialist to sign with Western mixed martial arts companies for his comeback, Gracie disclosed that ONE Championship stood out as the appealing product.
“It’s my dream to fight in ONE Championship. They are doing a great job on this side of the world. What they do in Asia affects and benefits the entire ecosystem of the sport. I have everything. I don't need to be here, but I want to be part of something big," he stated.
Gracie has strutted his wares in different mixed martial arts organizations throughout his 26-year professional career, but he believes that ONE Championship will be the frontrunner of the sport in the coming years.
“It’s an amazing company. ONE Championship makes one of the best shows in the world. That’s why I’m feeling so privileged to be fighting in ONE Championship and in Manila,” he explained.
ONE Championship has achieved tremendous success since its inception in 2011, establishing itself as one of the key players of the sport in the world.
Since its early beginnings, the promotion has undergone a myriad of changes and developments.
From changing its name to revolutionizing the mixed martial arts weight-management system, the promotion’s iterations have brought it from promising young startup to global combat sports powerhouse in a matter of years.
Aside from housing some of the world's best martial artists and world champions like Bibiano Fernandes, Ben Askren, Roger Gracie, Brandon Vera and Shinya Aoki, ONE Championship has also been pivotal in the development of local and homegrown talents like the Philippines’ Eduard Folayang, Singapore’s Angela Lee and Myanmar’s Aung La N Sang.
Headquartered in the heart of Singapore, ONE Championship holds the largest sports and entertainment events across Asia, broadcasting to over 1.7-billion potential viewers across 136 countries around the world.
“It (ONE Championship) will be No. 1 very soon,” Gracie declared.
Respected in both fields of mixed martial arts and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu as a pioneer, elite athlete and fearless competitor, Gracie will show the world what he is capable of in ONE Championship.
“The only thing that I know is that I’ll be a better man, I’ll be a better teacher, and I’ll be a better person in the sense of passing forward everything that I learn in there,” he conveyed.
Whether he wins or loses against Kondo at ONE: REIGN OF KINGS on Friday, Gracie assured that it will not be his last ride in mixed martial arts.
“I believe I’m going to fight more. I’m going to impress people with this fight, and they’re going to want me to fight more, so I will do it. This is not my farewell fight,” he promised.