Aging Gracies keep hitting the Octagon in search of Matt Hughes, and they keep leaving bruised, beaten and exhausted. Renzo Gracie came out of semi-retirement to face the former UFC welterweight champ. He dropped from 210 to 170 pounds to meet Hughes at welterweight. The weight drop and his age proved to be too much to overcome. Gracie was competitve early but because he didn't check leg kicks, his front leg was destroyed by the middle of the third round. It was part exhaustion, part pain as Hughes dropped Gracie to get another UFC win via TKO at 4:40 of the third round.
The win was the 17th UFC victory in Hughes' career, setting a UFC record he had shared with Chuck Liddell.
"I was actually pretty happy [with my performance]," said Hughes. "I knew Renzo came in throwing wide, looping, slow punches. I tried to stay on the outside. I definitely wanted to stand. You're fighting a Gracie. I got to put the odds on my side."
Gracie comes from the famous fighting and teaching family out of Brazil. His cousin Royce was the winner of UFC 1 and 2 often fighting against much bigger opponents. The family's jiu-jitsu was revolutionary at the time and has now become a staple of any mixed martial artists' game. Royce attempted a comeback at age 41 in 2006 at UFC 60 against Hughes. The UFC 170-pound champ at the time, Hughes destroyed a very old looking Gracie inside of one round. His cousin Renzo fared much better for a while but faded badly in this fight.
Hughes (44-7, 16-5 UFC) fought cautiously early choosing to fight from a distance landing the occasional leg kick. Gracie developed a limp as his front leg was battered in the second. In the final round, he had no answer for the kicks, his hands dropped and Hughes starting landing heavy shots. Things got embarrassing down the stretch as Gracie got knocked down several times on leg kicks. On each occasion, he laid on his back for a prolonged amount of time, once even asking Hughes to give him a helping hand. Hughes, 36, obliged and did help him up one time. It actually appeared Gracie was going to quit on the floor with 50 seconds left in the fight.
Gracie said he would definitely be back. The UFC may be better served using the 43-year-old as a spokesperson and ambassador for the sport.