The diehard grappling fans that filed into Pauley Pavilion to watch Eddie Bravo and Royler Gracie go at it again were not disappointed. Their battle of "kinetic chess" was captivating for the entire 20 minutes of toil, and the casuals who don’t normally watch grappling became familiar with such terms as electric chairs and berimbolos.
In the end it was deemed a draw, which brought a small level of vindication to Gracie, who’d lost to 10th Planet’s Bravo in Abu Dhabi back in 2003.
One person who didn’t exactly see it as a draw was Bravo, whose mother was on hand in Westwood to see her son compete. Bravo thought he won his jiu-jitsu match pretty plain for everybody to see. He appeared on Monday’s MMA Hour and made his case.
"I thought I won, and the headline on the Underground just 20 minutes later was, ‘Bravo dominates Gracie and Metamoris,’" he told host Ariel Helwani. "That pretty much sealed it for me, because after a fight everyone can blow smoke up your ass. I’m sure everyone was telling Royler the best possible stuff you can think of. So he actually thought it was a legit draw. At the press conference he said, ‘yeah he had me in a couple of things and I escaped, and I had him in a couple of things, so it’s a draw.’ And at the time I’m sitting thinking, damn, maybe I’m delusional. Maybe it was a legit draw.
"But then I got on the Underground, and everyone, 98%, Eddie Bravo dominated, Eddie Bravo won. That confirmed it. He’s delusional, not me."
In any case, it was a big hit for Metamoris, the jiu-jitsu promotion that was running its third showcase this past Saturday. The 43-year old Bravo, who had made the rubber guard famous over the years and invented many other colorful names for his techniques (like "the electric chair") hadn’t competed in a decade.
Heading into Saturday afternoon’s matinee match with Gracie, and with all the attention he’d garnered through the help of his friend Joe Rogan and others promoting it, Bravo said he was worried he might disappoint.
"I thought maybe there was a chance I’d fold under the pressure, that maybe I’d buckle, there was so many layers of pressure from everywhere, and all different angles," he said. "I had to win for my head instructors, my head instructors, for my students, for my mom, for my brother, for my sister, for my aunt, for all my family watching at home, the haters, the Gracies, Metamoris, everybody. There was so much pressure from all these different angles. There as so much pressure that there was no way I was going to buckle. It was weird."
And yet Bravo says the competition, for as beloved as the match played out for the grappling world, felt a little bittersweet. It was a draw in the end, and the level of respect he was feeling from the Gracie side of things left something to be desired.
To the point that, should the 48-year old Royler want to trilogize the series with Bravo, he says he’s more than game.
"I didn’t get the tap, but everyone who saw that match knew I smoked him," he said. "I was all over him, he did nothing to me. If you look at the highlights that Metamoris put together, there are no Royler highlights. So I don’t know how he thought he won. There were no Royler highlights.
"Him saying that I was lucky ten years ago is what got him into this mess. He didn’t want this rematch. He knew I had his number. And now his ego is just making him say things that he’s going to regret, because we can do this for a third time. And, he doesn’t want to do this a third time -- he didn’t even want to do it a second time. He was trying to avoid me. The money is what brought him out. It made him walk through this nightmare. And it’ll happen again if he doesn’t just start showing some respect. Jesus. Give it up. What is wrong with your brain, man?"