Renzo Gracie wants the world to know one thing for sure – he is definitely not retiring.
The 51-year-old martial arts legend turned back the clock in July to make a dramatic comeback to the cage, and submit Yuki Kondo at ONE: REIGN OF KINGS – his first contest in the cage in more than eight years.
That bout was initially announced as his retirement match, but at ONE Championship’s press conference in Japan on 23 August, he reiterated that was far from the case.
“In my last event, my dear, beloved brother Chatri (Sityodtong, ONE Chairman and CEO) announced it was my retirement,” he explained.
“I said, ‘How can I retire knowing ONE Championship is coming to Japan?’ If I cannot be fighting for ONE Championship when I am 60, I will be fighting my neighbor!”
Gracie was part of a line-up of stars on stage in Tokyo to announce ONE’s 2019 live event schedule, which includes two shows in the Japanese capital.
For the first of those two dates – on 31 March 2019 at the Ryogoku Kokushikan – his greatest wish is to have a rematch that would be almost two decades in the making.
“I believe if I could fight (Kazushi) Sakuraba, it would be unbelievable,” he said.
“If he could take this match, I would love it, but if he cannot, I understand. I admire him a lot, and there is no lack of respect if he cannot.”
The two icons faced off in PRIDE in August 2000, in front of an audience of more than 38,000 people, and a second-round Sakuraba kimura gave him a technical submission victory.
Sityodtong revealed ONE aims to make the bout, and although the promotion’s efforts to persuade “The I.Q. Wrestler” have been unsuccessful so far, he is confident a deal can be done.
“We offered the fight to Sakuraba a few times against Renzo in mixed martial arts,” he said.
“Renzo would like to fight Sakuraba for sure, but Sakuraba is very busy right now. But, I think Sakuraba also wants to fight Renzo. It would be an amazing fight.”