Last month at Metamoris 3, a 48 year-old Royler Gracie and a 43 year-old Eddie Bravo competed in a jiu-jitsu rematch 11 years in the making.
Their first battle ended with Bravo slapping on a triangle choke, forcing Gracie to tap out and giving a taser-like shock the jiu-jitsu world. And although their rematch would end in a draw, most fans who watched the contest would concur that Bravo was the more aggressive of the two, attacking from half guard and looking for the submissions.
Royler, however, would describe a very different contest taking place. (Interview and quotes, courtesy of MMAFighting.com.)
“How did he win the fight? You can’t win if you didn’t submit the other guy,” Gracie told MMAFighting.com. “That’s not how it works. He went there and just holds me. I’m not criticizing him. I’m almost 50 and I did well in there, so I also can say I feel like I won the fight.
“I didn’t see anything special from his game, again. I only saw him holding me, but who am I to criticize other’s games? I have to see my own game. In this tournament, you only win if you submit, so how can he say he won the fight if he didn’t submit me? I dominated the first 10 minutes of the fight, but it’s not a 10-minute fight and doesn’t have points, so I can’t say I won because of that.”
Gracie wasn’t impressed by Bravo’s game, but he admits to being put in positions that he didn’t want to be in.
“I really enjoyed the fight,” he said. “I had a good start, dominated from the top for the first eight minutes. Eddie came prepared to counter attack, holding me, and he did that pretty well. He swept me, passed the guard went to side control, and I came back to top position again. We had our good moments in the fight. He created some good positions and some people thought he would submit me, but you don’t submit people with those positions. It’s a game completely different from the normal jiu-jitsu game.
“It’s a 20-minute fight with no points, so we can take risks we normally can’t in a regular 10-minute jiu-jitsu match,” he continued. “I heard some people say that he would have won if it had points, but it would have been a completely different fight with points, we would have had different strategies. We can go forward and take risks at Metamoris, but we saw in other fights that some people didn’t do that.”
Bravo submitted Gracie with a triangle choke at ADCC, and the Brazilian jiu-jitsu legend felt better prepared to fight him 11 years later.
“I only fought him once and I didn’t know a thing about him back then, and this time I knew his game a little better,” he said. “I’m not a competitor anymore, so it’s always complicated. I’ll turn 50 next year and my time as a competitor is over. It’s always a great challenge to do what I love these days. I do what I love. It was a great experience. I did a great camp here in San Diego, and I even trained with Zak Maxwell, who competed at Metamoris. I have twice his age and we trained together the whole camp, so I enjoyed it.”
“No way, man. It is what it is,” Gracie said when asked if he felt pressured because of the first loss to Bravo. “I never took anything away from what Eddie did. I still think that that fight was more a mistake from my side. He obviously had the merits to get there and submit me, but I’m sure that it was my fault. It’s an individual sport, so if you blink you have to pay the price. I was better prepared this time, I knew what he would do, so it helped me, even thought he got me in some positions. But the fight was pretty close.”
Royler Gracie isn’t focused on competing again, but he won’t rule out another special fight under the grappling or jiu-jitsu rules.
“I know who I am and I know what I did for the sport,” he said. “I don’t intend to become world champion or compete at ADCC. I would have to have a good financial reason to do a special fight like this again. I can’t stop doing what I do just to train and show that I’m in shape. I want to fight, yes, but I have priorities in my life. This fight (with Bravo) didn’t happen before because we both had different priorities in the past. This time we had a promotion with good sponsors that made it happen. I’m not a 23-year-old anymore and I’m not competing like these kids. I have my job and I’m paid good money for it.”
How about a trilogy with Bravo at Metamoris 4?
“That’s not in my plans today, but it’s always possible,” he said. “This rematch settled it, or not? It left that taste in the mouth. Would I tap him? Would he tap me? That’s what makes it intriguing for the fans, it makes them want to watch Royler fight again. It’s awesome. I would like to (fight Bravo again), but that’s not in my plans now.”
By Jim Chadwick | Twitter