Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
Formula One 2014: Complete schedule, standings, driver info
Renzo Gracie is tended to after losing at Yas Island last night.
Renzo Gracie is tended to after losing at Yas Island last night.
Stephen Lock
Renzo Gracie is tended to after losing at Yas Island last night.

Hughes plays waiting game in triumph

'Clash of legends' disappoints as Brazilian master Gracie fails to live up to crowd support but promises he will be back.

ABU DHABI // Bruce Buffer, the UFC Octagon announcer, dubbed it: "the clash of legends". It turned out, for two and a half rounds anyway, to be a damp squib. The overwhelming sensation, played out willingly by Renzo Gracie, the UFC debutant, and Matt Hughes, a former two-time welterweight champion, who spent 12 minutes sizing each other up, was one of respect.

It was not until three minutes in to the third round that anything meaningful happened. That moment, a Hughes leg kick which sent Gracie to The Octagon floor, was not even followed up: Gracie casually put his hand out and Hughes, even more casually, helped him up. In a contest expected to feature the renowned grappling and jiu-jitsu skills of both fighters, the action between Gracie and Hughes was distinctly stand-up. And of the comedy variety.

Neither seemed particularly interested in hurting the other. The crowd, partisan towards the Gracie, the Brazilian jiu-jitsu master, who trains Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed al Nahyan in his native form of the discipline, grew increasingly frustrated. Then, Hughes kicked Gracie's weakening left leg again and once more the local hero, who entered the Yas Island arena venue to the Arabic pop singer, Aida al Manhali's anthem Salam Alah, fell.

Again, Hughes helped him up. The crowd were not happy. Hughes, however, scented blood. As his opponent tired and wobbled, the American advanced, landing several hard punches - lefts and rights of all varieties - on Gracie's face and head. Gracie fell and Hughes pounced. Jumping down on to the stricken Gracie, Hughes rained down hammer blows for what seemed like an eternity - perhaps because of the lack of action beforehand - and referee Herb Dean stepped in.

"I was pretty happy with how it went," said Hughes in The Octagon afterwards. "I knew Renzo was throwing wide, looping shots, so it was important I moved away, keep it tight and simple." Explaining the drawn-out stand-up, Hughes added: "The gameplan was to strike because I had to put the odds on my side." Having sported a modified Manchester City strip, branded with his own sponsors, Gracie was 'ironically' fighting out of the blue corner - the colour of the English Premier League side.

With City's chairman Khaldoon al Mubarak watching from the sidelines, the only things blue about Gracie come the end, however, were his eyes and mood. "It was very hard," he said. "Six months to prepare for this fight and a guy like Hughes is tough. But what kind of fighter would I be if I hadn't accepted?" Asked if he would be returning to the UFC, Gracie, who has a six-fight contract, said: "I'll be back for sure."

The drama of this heavily-hyped fight may not have lived up to expectations, but it was 'legendary' nonetheless. emegson@thenational.ae

Back to the top

More articles

Editor's Picks

 Al Rayyan's Yakubu Ayegbeni, left, tries to escape the attention of Jazira's Khamis Ismail. Karim Jaafar / AFP Photo

Late strike puts Al Jazira on verge of qualifying for the last 16 of Asian Champions League

All to play for across East Asia during final round of group phase.

 Manchester City's Vincent Kompany reacts after being sent off by referee Lee Mason during their English Premier League soccer match against Hull City at the KC stadium in Hull, northern England March 15, 2014. REUTERS/Nigel Roddis

Man City’s Manuel Pellegrini says Vincent Kompany is an important player

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini defends team captain and talks about team's injuries ahead of clash with Sunderland at home on Wednesday night.

 Supporters of China during the Asian Cup Qualifier match between Iraq vs China at Sharjah football stadium in Sharjah. Iraq won the match by 3-1. Pawan Singh / The National

Asian Cup expanding to 24 football teams in 2019

As part of a regional shake-up, the 2019 Asian Cup will climb to 24 teams but next month’s Challenge Cup in the Maldives will be the last, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) announced.

 Latifa Ali Al Shamsi of UAE fights compatriot Boshra Ghanem Al Zadjali in their 38.5kg match at the Junior World Jiu-Jitsu Championship. Christopher Pike / The National

Competitors at Abu Dhabi Junior World Jiu-Jitsu Championship target world domination

All of Wednesday’s winners at the tournament, being held in the UAE capital, are ambitious enough to target a black belt and reach the pinnacle of the sport, Amith Passela reports.

 Jacques Kallis top-scored with 72 for Kolkata Knight Riders against Mumbai Indians at Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday. Pawan Singh / The National

Kallis kicks off IPL 7 with fifty as Kolkata thrash Mumbai

South African legend shows class is permanent as Knight Riders beat defending champions by 41 runs. Osman Samiuddin reports from Abu Dhabi.

 Amir Khan, during a workout at the Gloves Community Centre on March 24, 2014 in Bolton, England, says his fight will be the real main event in Las Vegas on May 3. Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Amir Khan says bout with Luis Collazo ‘will steal the show’ in Las Vegas on May 3

British-Pakistani boxer Amir Khan says his fight with Luis Collazo will be the main attraction on same fight card led by Floyd Mayweather Jr and Marcos Maidana, writes Omar Al Raisi.


To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National