eddie-bravo.jpgEddie Bravo thought someone was playing a joke on him when he was offered a rematch with Royler Gracie at Metamoris III.

“I was like, ‘Are you sure? Are you absolutely sure?’” Bravo told MMAjunkie.com Radio (www.mmajunkie.com/radio).

The jiu-jitsu guru had coveted another roll with the icon since he had won a career-defining upset in the quarterfinals of the 2003 Abu Dhabi Submission Wrestling Championships. But as the years passed, the jiu-jitsu match had never come to fruition.

Even a heavily rumored rematch at the 2011 Abu Dhabis had “totally fallen apart,” as Bravo remembers.

“I got lucky enough to go against him, and I figured I could do it again,” he said. “You think I’m lucky? Maybe I was lucky, but let’s do it again. I just wanted to live the dream again.

“I thought it was a trick. But something changed his mind, and now he’s down. So it’s a beautiful day.”

Now, the work begins for Bravo, who’s spent the bulk of his recent years focused on training and teaching over competition. He and Gracie will headline the grappling-only event in late September in Los Angeles.

That Bravo gets to compete under the lights of a major event and get paid for it is perhaps the next best thing about the rematch.

“What Metamoris is doing is basically what the Fertittas did for MMA,” he said. “We’re lucky to finally have all this money behind jiu-jitsu. It’s long overdue, and I’m happy that it’s right here, right now.

“All that’s happened in the past with the rematch, and is it on, is it off – all that, it was meant to be. Because the rematch couldn’t have been better timed. Now, you can get paid with just jiu-jitsu. You don’t have to do MMA.”

Over the years, Bravo lent his skills to countless fighters, though he never fought himself. Many in the traditional jiu-jitsu community were critical of his no-gi style and the cultish devotion it inspired among students. Bravo said it was his love of the art that led him to diverge from traditional methods of instruction, which ultimately yielded several moves that are widely seen in the cage today.

Even with an event such as Metamoris, Bravo said he’d like to see competitors have the option of whether or not to use a traditional jiu-jitsu gi when competing.

“I would like to see all no-gi, but that’s my personal preference,” he said. “All those tournaments end up being tug-of-war on the sleeves and tug-of-war on the pants, and the sport of grappling struggles when we’ve got guys playing tug-of-war. I think that the gi doesn’t define jiu-jitsu.”

In the fall, Bravo will again pit his style against Gracie, who’s also focused on teaching after a decorated career in submission grappling that’s included three consecutive wins at the Abu Dhabis.

Bravo’s understanding is that the two are to compete in a 20-minute match with judges but no points. The search for unbiased officials will be key, he added, though he has no intention of giving outsiders a chance to determine the match’s outcome.

“I’m going to try to finish him,” Bravo said. “I don’t want to go 20 minutes. I want to end it at eight.”

But Bravo admitted that Gracie has some powerful tools at his disposal – namely his half-brother, Rickson Gracie, who maintains a god-like status among fighters and grapplers.

“Rickson very well might be studying my game,” Bravo said. “It’s hard to wrap my brain around that.”

MMAjunkie.com Radio broadcasts Monday-Friday at noon ET (9 a.m. PT) live from Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino’s Race & Sports Book. The show is hosted by “Gorgeous” George Garcia, MMAjunkie.com lead staff reporter John Morgan and producer Brian “Goze” Garcia. For more information or to download past episodes, go to www.mmajunkie.com/radio.

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