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The rivalry is back: 25 years later, Wallid Ismail and Renzo Gracie could rematch in a MMA cage — or in a street fight

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Wallid Ismail vs. Renzo Gracie at Jungle Fight?
Guilherme Cruz, MMA Fighting

Wallid Ismail and Renzo Gracie engaged in a social media war recently, and now they want to fight each other.

Ismail and Gracie met in a jiu-jitsu match back in 1993, and Ismail came out victorious. Ismail went 3-0 in jiu-jitsu clashes against members of the Gracie family in the 1990’s, defeating Ralph Gracie in 1992 and Royce Gracie in 1998, but that’s not the reason why their rivalry is back with full force.

Brazilian website Combate produced a documentary in December about the 10-year anniversary of Ryan Gracie’s death, and members of the Gracie family were upset with comments made by Ismail, Hugo Duarte and Eugenio Tadeu, three of Ryan’s biggest rivals.

Renzo Gracie and other members of the family started to attack Ismail online, and Renzo decided to go one step further. Gracie said that he’s going to Rio de Janeiro in May, and vowed to give Ismail a beating if they meet.

“They don’t know what respect is, so they will learn the tough way,” Gracie told MMA Fighting about why he decided to call Ismail out. “I want to beat him up. I’ll go after him and catch him in any corner. Just like that. And I’m being gentle.”

Ismail, who is also 50 years old, is open to trading punches with Gracie, but wants to do it the right way.

“If he’s a man and not a coward, he will fight me the way men fight, in a ring,” Ismail told MMA Fighting. “Cowards call their friends and fight in groups. Renzo’s side (of the family) always did that. If he wants to fight, he says he’s coming, so come and fight.

”It will be just the same as last time, I’ll beat him up for the world to watch. But get the facts straight: I will be giving him a rematch. He’s the loser here.”

Asked if he’s willing to promote their fight at his own Jungle Fight, Ismail said he’s already asking someone to reach out to Gracie.

“Someone will call him to negotiate,” Ismail said. “He has to be a man. There’s no time for cowards who fight in streets and try to intimidate people. Let’s book this. No bulls**t. I’ll give him a rematch, but on my terms.”

Gracie laughed at his suggestion.

“He can’t pay me to fight in that sh***y promotion without stealing money from a city budget or money from the government,” Gracie said. “I’m under contract with ONE Championship. I just want to beat Wallid and Hugo (Duarte), wherever they want. And there’s also Eugenio, that a******. But I don’t want his small promotion, he doesn’t pay no one. They said what they wanted (in the documentary), now I want to beat them. Just like that. In a room, in a gym, wherever. Tell him to be ready.”

Ismail is not down to fighting Gracie in a gym or in a street fight, and said he’s open to facing him in neutral territory, citing Gracie’s good relationship with the Abu Dhabi government.

“He wants to get beat and pocket some money,” Gracie laughed. “He never changes.”