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Renzo Gracie says PRIDE promoters sabotaged him before Sanae Kikuta fight

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

In a time when MMA wasn’t regulated by an independent body, promoters could do anything they wanted. According to MMA legend Renzo Gracie, that’s how things worked when PRIDE was launched.

In March of 1998, PRIDE 2 featured four Japanese fighters at the Yokohama Arena, and Sanae Kikuta was the one matched against Renzo Gracie. According to the Brazilian, he was drugged by the promoters the day before the fight.

"I don’t sleep. I can sleep two hours and a half and I can work, I can think, I can read, I can do whatever I want. I feel 100 percent if I can sleep two hours and a half. If I sleep four hours, I think I overslept. And that day, I slept 18 hours straight," Gracie said on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour. "And I remember people knocking at the door and I woke up, but I couldn’t move out of my bed. And I never had a sleep like this in my whole life."

According to the MMA veteran, promoters offered him water leading up to the fight, and they had put something in it.

"But it may have helped, because I was feeling great the next day," he continued. "I mentioned that (to the promoters), but they said ‘no, impossible.’ But they could do whatever they want. Japan, back then, was like this. There was the Rings organization, and the guy who owned Rings would get up and say ‘no, this guy won.’ He would look, scream in Japanese, point his finger, and whoever he points (his finger to) is the winner. This was the foundation of what we have today."

Renzo Gracie ended up winning that fight via sixth-round submission with a guillotine choke. Three years later, though, he lost to Shungo Oyama via decision at PRIDE 21.

"They gave him the victory, even though I beat him the whole fight, because they claim I spat on him," he said. "So the guy was insulting me the whole fight, I spat on him. But there were nothing on the rules that says so. There’s nothing in the rules about spitting, but because I spat on him they gave him the victory.

"The whole organization on the beginning, they could do whatever they wanted."