“Roger is more skilled, but, brother, I got into his closed guard, got out, took his back! What a fight. And about that armlock, he didn’t let go, I escaped!” That’s how Ronaldo Souza described in 2004 the epic battle he had just had with Roger Gracie at the World Championship black belt absolute final.
Yes, we are talking about the famous armlock match, the one fight that is regarded by many as the most thrilling match in the history of competition Jiu-Jitsu.
It was July 25, 2004, and the two best fighters of that edition of the Worlds got to the gold medal decider.
In a interview to GRACIEMAG’s reporter (today our Editor-in-Chief), Raphael Nogueira, while he waited to be examined by an orthopedist in a Rio de Janeiro clinic, Jacaré talked about the culprit moment of the fight: “I decided in my head that I was not going to tap and so I made my body follow that decision!”
Before that, while still in the Tijuca Tenis Clube gymnasium, Jacaré yelled only one phrase to the press about the decision not to give up, which cost him a severe elbow dislocation, but no fracture, as the x-ray proved later that night: “I regret nothing!”
Afterwords, he gave a more thorough explanation: “My arm was not broken! I thank God for that! That will not jeopardize my career. In two weeks I’ll be doing pushups.”
Jacaré was right. The arm healed and one year later he was back to win another absolute title, once again over Roger Gracie, in another heavily disputed outcome. The 2005 Worlds absolute black belt final became known as the final of the “takedown in the advertisement sign”.
And today he is a successful MMA fighter ready to debut in the UFC, which he will do on May 18 as part of UFC on FX 8 in Brazil. As a matter of fact, the two old rivals will debut in the UFC almost at the same time, as Roger has his first fight scheduled for July 6.
But that’s another story.
Back to 2004, Roger started pulling guard and soon tried his first attack to the arm, well defended by Jacaré, who also managed to make Roger turn to turtle position.
With Roger leaving his back exposed, Jacaré did not lose the opportunity, working to put both hooks in.
It took a while, but he finally did, going ahead in the scoreboard, 4-0.
Roger did well to defend Jacaré’s attempt of choking him from the back and managed to turn around and put his opponent in his guard again.
At this point of the fight, they ended up in a position that years later would be named 50/50 and Roger almost got the sweep from there, but Jacaré managed to release his leg and stand up.
When the fight resumed, Roger once again pulled guard.
This time, the Gracie was more precise in capturing Jacaré’s left arm while he climbed his legs to set up the armbar.
Faster than Ronaldo could react, the lock was in place and it was an all out war between the two — Roger trying to finish the fight for the gold and Jacaré resisting to the very limit.
Little by little, Jacaré managed to loosen the lock a bit and was able to escape, but not before having his elbow ligaments completely outstretched and damaged.
From that point on, his left arm was useless and when the fight resumed Jacaré knew that he was in trouble.
For the next minute and a half to the end, Jacaré clearly avoided the confrontation and was criticized by Roger, who said he was running from the fight: “Shit, I was winning, 4-0. He made the same mistake many times of trying to take me down. All I did was stretch my right arm and defend my left arm. He should have made a grip on my gi and pulled guard, which would have given him a much greater chance to win,” responded jarcaré, when asked by Raphael about Roger’s statements.
And then, the time was over and Jacaré was the black belt absolute champion.
Years later, in another interview, after saying that the 2005 final was more important for him, Jacaré admitted that the “armlock match” was the one he would always be remembered by: “Everybody still thinks about that fight.”
Here is the full video of the historical match.
And here is an exclusive and never before seen photo gallery with 32 images of that fight, by the lens of GRACIEMAG’s legendary Photographer, Gustavo Aragão.
After remembering another amazing chapter of the history of the World Jiu-Jitsu Championship, hurry and register to be part of the next one.
Click here and enroll to compete in the 2013 Worlds, scheduled May 29-June 2, in Long Beach, California.
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