Gracie was almost thirty pounds lighter!
The fight between Gracie and Taktarov was scheduled to be the main event of the night and no one who came to watch it on November 22, 1996 in Birmingham, Alabama, regretted it. Taktarov, who was, perhaps, the best sambo artist in MMA in the mid-nineties, had a great weight advantage – he was 28 pounds heavier than Gracie. This difference and the fact that the fight had no time limits made Gracie’s task extremely tough. However, before the fight Renzo Gracie gave an interview where he promised to “dine on chicken a la Kiev”.
Taktarov was born in the Russian town of Sarov, not in the Ukrainian capital, but that was the only mistake Gracie made that night. Sooner than a minute into the opening round Taktarov performed a takedown and attempted to catch Gracie’s leg for a submission. Gracie, lying on his back, landed a devastating upkick which dropped Taktarov to the mat. The BJJ artist got on his feet immediately and threw a coup de grace punch making referee’s stoppage a mere formality.