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Rickson Gracie starts up IFL Brazil

The last time we caught up with Rickson Gracie, he was saying that MMA had ‘turned into a circus, extreme, violent, and sensationalist, which only attracts people who like barbarianism and all that blood.’ Five months later, guess who’s getting back into the MMA business!

Jiu-jitsu legend and former vale tudo fighter Rickson Gracie has created an event that promises to astonish the fans.

‘Mestre do Combate’ debuts on November 22nd in Rio de Janeiro and has a format designed to leave viewers with no doubts about who has won the fights. Among the innovations is a weigh-in rule that has fighters hitting the scales on the day of the show, to eliminate big weight cuts.

In addition, the bell will not sound at the end of the round if it looks like a fighter is nearly about to be knocked out or submitted; the action will be allowed to run its course. Judges have also been eliminated – the winner will have to get the victory by KO/TKO or submission over two rounds, being the first of ten minutes duration and the second of five.

The rule is designed to give preference to martial arts ability rather than athletic ability. If there is no submission or stoppage, three votes will decide the winner – one vote from Rickson, other from the referee and the third of the public.

“We want to create a new paradigm and recover values from the fight that were lost over time. Today, MMA fighting means blood and money. We will honour the warrior spirit and the fighting art,” says Rickson.

Mestre do Combate also offers individual and team competitions. Inside the ring, the fighters go one-on-one but each of them will be part of a team that will represent a Brazilian city. One coach and five athletes (at heavyweight, light heavyweight, middleweight, welterweight and lightweight) form the teams.

Crusty old MMA fans (formerly referred to as TUF noobs) will remember something similar in the US called the International Fight League that tried a similar city based team approach to the sport. It only lasted as long as it’s owners were willing to continue burning money on the altar of MMA promotion and then folded shop. Not to say Rickson’s series of events (9 shows planned over 2012 / 2013) is doomed to a similar fate. There’s money to be made in the Brazilian MMA scene and a guy like Rickson Gracie is favorably positioned to get at some of it.

Plus a Brazilian’s nationalistic tendencies are only overshadowed by their rationalistic ones. No one ever gave a fuck about the Southern California Condors or the New York Pitbulls. But Sao Paolo vs Rio is already a rivalry that probably accounts for a significant number of stabbings every weekend in Brazil. Promoters don’t have to worry about people getting behind an idea like this – they have to worry about people taking it way too far.

One area that might need to be tweaked though is Rickson’s plan for no judges. In theory it sounds cool and jibes with this whole warrior spirit thing he’s so obsessed with. In reality though it’ll just result in an assload of draws, which in turn will probably bork the whole team scoring system they’re trying to get off the ground.

Whatever the case, we welcome Rickson Gracie back to the sport and look forward to his purifying blend of warrior spirit and artistry returning the sport to it’s proper set of paradigms and values.