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MMA pioneer Renzo Gracie looks to get back in the cage

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Renzo Gracie yells instruction during an MMA event. (Getty)

Renzo Gracie is a pioneer of the sport his family created – mixed martial arts. He has beaten a number of former UFC champions in multiple weight classes and counts a number of UFC champs as students, including Matt Serra, Georges St. Pierre, Chris Weidman and Frankie Edgar.

At 46 years of age, Gracie himself has not fought in years (his last bout was a loss at 2010 to long-time welterweight champ Matt Hughes), yet he says that he wants nothing more than to fight again.

“I’ve been so busy over the years that I have not ever really been able to focus on my own training and fight career,” Renzo tells Cagewriter.

“But I will fight again. I have been training hard and will be able to focus on myself and my own training soon. For sure I am going to fight again. We will see where and against who but it is going to happen soon. Fighting is just inside me.”

Gracie says that while he still has a UFC contract, it does not preclude him from competing elsewhere if the organization does not end up giving him another fight. Renzo recently helped two of his cousins, Roger and Rolles prepare for fights of their own and is currently organizing the 2013 World Jiu Jitsu Expo, which will take place in Long Beach, CA Nov. 9 and 10.

Roger and Rolles both suffered tough defeats after starting out their bouts well. Any time a Gracie loses in MMA, the critics come out of the woodwork but after those two losses, Roger, Rolles and, by implication, Renzo received rough criticism from an unlikely source – their own cousin Royce Gracie.

Royce, of course, was the original UFC champion, beating multiple men in single nights when there were few rules and the fights were style vs. style. Renzo says that Royce has no place critiquing fighters who he has no part in developing. After Rolles' and Roger's recent losses, Royce publicly criticized their fighting, saying that they deviated too far from pure jiu-jitsu.

“First of all, you should only offer criticism if you’re one of the people helping the guys. When I tell these guys things it’s because I’m there with them, I coach them, I train with them, I do all these things with them and for them,” Renzo tells us in response to Royce’s critical comments.

“If you’re not on the mat sweating and bleeding with people, you can’t talk about their training and fighting.”

Renzo won’t say if Royce has a personal axe to grind with him but advises that his cousin, and everyone for that matter, keep their mouths closed when in doubt.

“I don’t know if it is personal. It’s just that, usually when we have something to say, it is stupid,” Renzo says with a chuckle.

“That’s why it’s better to think before you speak or keep things to yourself. If I said everything I thought a lot of it would be stupid as well [laughs]. “

Before he can focus on his own fight career again, Renzo needs to get this year’s World Jiu Jitsu Expo off the ground next month. The expo will feature vendors, demonstrations, autograph signings but also submission grappling super matches between some of the best MMA fighters in the world and some of the best jiu jitsu athletes out there.

“I’m excited not just because we plan to have fighters take part like Nam Phan, Jon Fitch, Matt Riddle and others,” Renzo says.

“But also because this expo is everything jiu jitsu. It will have everything for those that love jiu jitsu and will expose all parts of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu to those wanting to learn. This is the art I love and I enjoy sharing it with everyone.”

Follow Elias Cepeda on Twitter @eliascepeda.

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