One of the pioneers of mixed martial arts returns to the octagon to take on an old foe as Royce Gracie (14-2-3) comes out of retirement to fight another elder statesman, Ken Shamrock (28-16-2), in an open-weight bout at Bellator 149 in Feb. 2016, at Toyota Center in Houston.
This will be the third time that Gracie, 48, and Shamrock, 51, have met in the octagon. In 1995, the two high-profile fighters battled to a 36-minute draw in UFC 5. Their first matchup, at UFC 1 in 1993, ended with Gracie submitting Shamrock in 57 seconds with a rear-naked choke hold.
Age is the overwhelming storyline of the bout, with both fighters well past their primes. Shamrock is 2-8 in his last 10 fights while Gracie is returning from an almost nine-year absence. The Brazilian jiu-jitsu legend remains adamant about his fighting abilities.
"Wouldn't you love to see Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield go one more time?" Gracie told ESPN. "It's not like just one of them has aged. They've both aged. They're both icons. There is no age as long as the body feels good."
Gracie said he signed a one-fight deal with Bellator but did not say whether or not this would be his last fight. "I never put a 'last one' tag on my fights because you never know," Gracie said. "I'm just thinking about this one right now."
The Rio de Janeiro native will be fighting for the first time since June 2007, when he beat Kazushi Sakuraba but tested positive for steroids after the bout. It was a stain on an otherwise illustrious career.
Part of the first family of
Gracie's long front kick to double-leg takedown in addition to his armbar and rear naked choke remain signature moves that many have tried to emulate and duplicate. His early reputation was one of a stoic and serious competitor very much intent on submission, which he achieved in great numbers. Between UFC 1-4, Gracie submitted eleven straight opponents, including six chokes and three armbars.