You would never guess Renzo Gracie’s age just by looking at him. His head is still unmarked by gray hairs, his skin still tight. He’s something close to ageless, but in reality, he’s 51 years old. Historically, that’s an age at which most athletes have long been flushed out of the fight game. Yet, after eight years away, Gracie is making a comeback.
He’s scheduled to compete against Yuki Kondo at ONE: Reign of Kings in the 20,000-seat Mall of Asia Arena in the Philippines in a fight that has been billed as his retirement bout, but Gracie told MMA Fighting during a recent interview that last part is incorrect. He has not announced an intention to hang up his gloves.
“I believe I’m going to fight more,” he said. “I’m going to impress people with this fight, and they’re going to want me to fight more, so I will do it.”
Gracie’s professional career spans more than a quarter-century, dating back to 1992, the year before the UFC was born.
Still, he hadn’t competed since losing to Matt Hughes at UFC 112 in April 2010. Prior to that, he hadn’t fought since 2007, meaning he’s only competed once in the last decade, yet he said he feels physically great and expects to fight multiple times in the future.
So how did the “retirement fight” mixup happen in the first place? Gracie said it was probably a simple mistake. He says nearly everyone who hears he’s returning makes the same assumption that he’ll be one and done.
“I think they thought I’m 51 and I don’t need it anymore, but I will fight for them more times,” he said. “Believe it.”