The Shareef Don’t Like It: Matt Hughes, Renzo Gracie, and an Egregious Beating

Matt Hughes obliterates Renzo Gracie’s leg, the UFC gets a ton of money.

On Thursday, One Championship announced that Renzo Gracie would be fighting Yuki Kondo in what they are billing as Renzo’s retirement fight. One would assume that the fight will accompanied by a celebration of Renzo’s career and that Kondo won’t go out there to brutalize the retiring legend, although maybe he should; if you’ve ever seen Renzo fight Sanae Kikuta from Pride 2, you’ll understand. As an event, it should be enjoyable, but as a fight, in the purest sense, it is utterly meaningless.

The fight with Kondo will come over 8 years after Renzo’s last MMA outing, an absolute and unnecessary drubbing at the hands of Matt Hughes. As I write this, we are a little over a day away from CM Punk’s second foray into the UFC’s octagon, an experiment widely mocked as a cash grab and blemish on the competitive nature of the UFC, but Renzo’s fight with Hughes at UFC 112, somehow, is perhaps an even greater sham. So let’s give the Kadowaki Special treatment to Matt Hughes vs Renzo Gracie.

A few background notes to give you some context here: Renzo Gracie is the personal Juijitsu coach for Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. The sheikh bought a portion of the UFC, 10% to be exact, in order to get an event in the United Arab Emirates. He wanted to see Renzo Gracie fight on the card. The UFC booked him against Matt Hughes.

In the opening video package, Mike Goldberg tells us that this is a “historic fight between two legends that won’t seen be forgotten.” Mike, I’ll give you legends, and anyone who ever saw this fight probably hasn’t forgotten it, but a 36 year old Matt Hughes fighting a 4 3 year old Renzo Gracie isn’t a historic fight in anyway. Later, Hughes claims that, “this fight is going to bring out the violence in [him].” Matt Hughes disagree on a lot of things, everyone can agree that certainly a violence was brought out of Matt Hughes this night.

The opening portion of the first round is a plodding standup affair, Renzo doesn’t do much of anything, but at some point Goldberg points out the Renzo has heavy hands. No, Mike, he doesn’t. He’s never finished anybody with his hands, Anthony Johnson has heavy hands, Renzo Gracie fought with Akira Shoji to a thirty minute draw.

It takes nearly a minute for Hughes to land his first outside low kick, which will become a theme in this fight, the same sort of way that bullets are theme of the Civil War. The crowd starts to chant for Renzo, in the same sort of way you would chant if your uncle was on The Voice, except your uncle is about to have the shit kicked out of him by Matt Hughes because a Sheikh wanted to see his friend fight, and the guy from Maroon 5 isn’t gonna spin around in a chair to stop it.

Hughes grabs an upperbody lock and pushes Gracie into the fence, from here Hughes tries to throw some knees to the thigh, but nothing much happens. Gracie is gets some separation and manages to spin out.  Again Hughes clinches, this time double-underhooks, pushes Gracie against the cage and throws some more knees to the lower body of Gracie. Again Renzo spins out, which look, he’s not being mauled in there. We are three minutes in and he hasn’t done much, but he isn’t laying face down on the canvas yet, so Joe Rogan gets to say that Renzo Gracie is doing a good job. Alright Joe, time to get on the Alpha Brain, I suppose.

With 90 seconds left, Hughes lands another outside low kick, many more will follow, unfortunately. And with less than a minute left Hughes lands another two kicks. Renzo answers with a front kick, but the round ends without any real strikes on consequence.

Within the first 30 seconds of Round 2, Hughes lands 3 solid kicks above Renzo’s left knee, and for the first time Renzo starts showing signs of damage.

The two throw weak strikes from a distance, Hughes lands a glancing low blow, but Renzo shrugs it off. Hughes decides to take it to the ground and grabs double-underhooks again, but Renzo is able to fight off the initial takedown attempt and go for a trip of his own, but Hughes thwarts it and we are back standing. (1)

The next minute or so of the fight is mostly Renzo throwing 2 and 3 punch combinations that Hughes is able to avoid by simply stepping back. Hughes seems to be content to use this time to build his energy up, as he doesn’t press the offense at all. With around 90 seconds left Hughes goes back to the kicks, landing another 2 solid kicks. This forces Gracie to press, going for a takedown, which Hughes easily stymies. He grabs a front headlock and rides the round out with some ineffectual knees to Renzo’s body.

We are two rounds into this fight and as farcical as it seemed on paper, Renzo has actually acquitted himself nicely so far. He lost both rounds, and hasn’t offered much offense, but any human with realistic expectations going into this fight would have thought Gracie would be unconscious by now. However, Round 3 is a whole other animal.

Hughes lands the first significant strike of round 3, and you guessed it, its an outside low kick. Rogan posits that if Hughes keeps landing those kicks, Gracie might just fall down, apparently the Alpha Brain has kicked in at this point. Hughes follows up with another kick, and again Gracie sells it.

Hughes continues on the offensive with a combination that stuns Gracie, but Hughes decides to back off instead of pursue Renzo. (1)

Hughes is content to keep his distance and throw light punches and a few more outside lowkicks, including one that stings Renzo and elicits a look from Gracie that epitomizes of a 43 year old man has been kicked way too many times and had enough of this shit, except his leg really hurts so he can’t really do anything about it. (2)

Hughes, sensing that Gracie’s leg is about to fall off his body, goes for the clinch, pushes Renzo into the cage, and lands a couple shots to his left leg. (3)

From here Hughes grabs a Muay Thai clinch, and attempts to throw some knees to Gracie’s face, but Renzo is too sweaty and pulls out, instead Hughes throws a combination that stuns Gracie. But again he backs off.

We are three minutes into Round 3, and at this point Renzo can barely stand and Hughes is content to stand out of reach and spam an outside lowkick/uppercut combination. Eventually, Hughes throws a lowkick that drops Gracie in the same sort of manner Little Mac would drop Gabby Jay.

Gracie is laying on the mat unable to get up and asks Matt Hughes to help him stand up. Hughes, that grade A sadist, gladly lifts Gracie up so he can continue beating his leg unmercifully. What a great sportsman Mark Hughes’ brother is. (1)

Hughes knocks him down with another legkick, and again Renzo asks Hughes to pick him up, but referee Herb Dean tells Gracie to stand up own his own. Gracie obliges, only to have his knee buckled twice along with some solid punches to the face that drop him to the canvas.

Hughes let’s Gracie up again, but he is swarming now. He lands a few more legkicks, and eventually flurries to bring an end to the fight.

Finally, this fight is over. The first two rounds weren’t competitive, but they weren’t this brutal. Round 3 was an absolute rout. Hughes relished in destroying Gracie’s leg, on multiple occasions he let up on Gracie to inflict more punishment. Afterwards, Hughes is all smiles, because of course he is. (6)

As we gear up for Renzo Gracie’s retirement and CM Punk’s revenge tour, we can look back and see the sorts of base and craven things that MMA has wrought. The UFC wanted a ton of money from the government of the United Arab Emirates and they got it. The man behind the UAE governement wanted to see his friend fight and he got to see it, worts and all. And because this is MMA, he got to see his friend absolutely brutalized, one of his limbs battered into uselessness. And so on Saturday night, as CM Punk attempts to complete his UFC fantasy camp, remember that this MMA things doesn’t end well for most people, it leaves nearly everyone involved broken and battered. So let’s look forward to a 50 year old man fighting Yuki Kondo in One Championship and an unathletic professional wrestler with some MMA training fighting in the UFC and not think about how things will end up, because boy do they end badly, even if your fiends are super rich Sheikhs.







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