Renzo Gracie and Kazushi Sakuraba competed in an epic rematch in the main event of Metamoris 5 on November 22nd, 2014. The two men are not only major figures in the development of MMA but also legends of their respective grappling styles as well. Gracie obviously represented the Gracie family and their storied history of BJJ, while Sakuraba was known for his incredible catch wrestling skills. This would have been a fantastic matchup to begin with, but the fact that the two men had a history that stretched back well over a decade just made it even more interesting.
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Renzo Gracie v Kazushi Sakuraba 2 – Metamoris 5
Renzo Gracie and Kazushi Sakuraba first fought back in the main event of PRIDE 10 on August 27th, 2000 and it was one of the biggest wins of Sakuraba’s entire career. Gracie came into that fight with a professional MMA record of 9-1-1 (1) while Sakuraba had a similar start to his career and held a 9-2-1 (1) record. It was less than a year after Sakuraba had managed to brutally submit Royler Gracie and just a matter of months after he had battered Royce Gracie over 90 minutes of action. He was already known as ‘The Gracie Hunter’ at this point in time, while Renzo Gracie was one of the top grapplers and MMA fighters in his family.
Kazushi Sakuraba locked up a kimura in their MMA fight and when Renzo Gracie refused to tap, he continued applying the submission and dislocated his elbow. The referee called an end to the fight and Sakuraba was declared the winner by technical submission, further growing his legacy as ‘The Gracie Hunter’. Both men continued fighting in MMA and competing in professional grappling for years afterward, even after this rematch took place at Metamoris 5. At the time they met on the mats here, Gracie had a 13-7-1 (1) record and a pair of ADCC gold medals while Sakuraba had an incredible 26-16-1 (2) record.
The match started out pretty slowly, with the two men exchanging position in the clinch and feinting for a little under a minute. That’s when Kazushi Sakuraba picked up a single-leg very quickly, causing Renzo Gracie to lose his balance and fall to the mat. He couldn’t hold Gracie down though, as he popped up back up to continue the battle on the feet. After another extended standing period, Sakuraba went for a low single-leg but he was stuffed and quickly returned to standing. Gracie off-balanced Sakuraba with a footsweep shortly afterward, but he didn’t hit it clean enough to finish it.
Renzo Gracie eventually snapped Kazushi Sakuraba into a front-headlock and used it to pull closed guard. The match stayed there for around 8 minutes as both men fought for the grips that they wanted. Sakuraba was finally able to capitalize on a moment where Gracie opened his guard, and he stood up to start passing from headquarters. Sakuraba started using a leg-weave to pass before latching onto a front-headlock with Gracie’s leg trapped inside. Gracie managed to come up on top and free his head, before he took up position in top half-guard and started to pass from there.
Kazushi Sakuraba created some space but Renzo Gracie used it to drop into a double-under pass, pressuring heavy and getting to side control. Gracie worked patiently to isolate an arm for a while before he transitioned to north-south and continued slowly trying to set up a submission. He tried to move to knee-on belly at one point and Sakuraba was able to recover half-guard with around 90 seconds left on the clock. Gracie was trying to use head-and-arm control to pass but Sakuraba freed his arm shortly before the time ran out. Neither man was close to a submission and Gracie won the positional battle but there were no judges being used so the match was ruled a draw.