By Ken Pishna, MMAWeekly.com
When you’re the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu instructor of a fighter aptly title “The Prodigy” and you decide to step into the ring, you better be good. And if you’re invited to participate in the Rumble on the Rock 175-pound Grand Prix along with the likes of Dave Menne, Frank Trigg, Jake Shields, Anderson Silva, and more, you better be damn good.
While he may not yet have garnered the attention of his prize pupil, BJ Penn, Renato “Charuto” Verissimo hasn’t exactly kept himself on the down low either. Known as a BJJ maestro, Charuto has yet to submit an opponent in MMA competition despite his impressive 6-2 record. All but one of his victories have come via TKO, typically from strikes or a cut.
He hasn’t skated through with easy opponents either. In just the fourth fight of his career, Charuto stopped UFC veteran Gil Castillo. Following that fight, he got the call to the Octagon and was impressive, dominating Carlos Newton en route to the only decision victory on his resume.
Seemingly put on the fast track, Charuto then had to face Matt Hughes, who was coming in fresh off a loss to Penn. It was a tremendous battle, which Charuto nearly finished early on with a triangle choke, but ended up losing when the judges awarded Hughes a very controversial decision.
With such a great showing against Hughes, Charuto was given another shot in the UFC, this time against then number-one contender Frank Trigg. Again Charuto nearly secured victory in the first round with a tight triangle choke, but like Hughes, Trigg fought his way out and then turned the tables on Charuto in the second round. Charuto suffered the first decisive loss of his career when Trigg finished the fight by TKO from strikes.
It would be more than six months before Charuto would enter the ring again, but return he did, this time on his home turf at Rumble on the Rock 7 where he stopped Yuichi Nakanishi due to a cut. By the time he enters the cage against Carlos Condit at the Grand Prix it will have been more than eight months since that win over Nakanishi.
That said, will ring rust be a problem? Probably not, Charuto is the type of guy that is continually training, whether he has a fight coming up or not. Not to mention that he is very active anyway. With a love for the outdoors, Charuto has a passion for activities that help keep him in shape. He can often be found surfing the waves of Hawaii or even hiking or cycling around the islands.
Even though it may sound as if Charuto has it easy in the first round, just because most people haven’t heard of Condit, don’t be fooled, he’s a solid fighter with a 13-2 professional record. His only losses were to a very tough Carlo Prater and number-one ranked Pancrase welterweight Satoru Kitaoka. A well-rounded fighter with a very aggressive style, Condit could be the dark horse in this tournament and should not be overlooked.
If this fight hits the mat, things definitely swing into Charuto’s favor. He isn’t BJ Penn’s jiujitsu coach for nothing. Condit is good on the ground, but not in the league that Charuto is. But with a solid wrestling base, it’s possible that Condit will be able to keep this fight on the fight, at least for a time, and this is where he wants to be against Charuto. With a very aggressive and confident style, Condit is not afraid to strike with anyone. He handily decisioned UFC veteran Pete Spratt in a recent kickboxing bout, only the third of his career.
If a dark horse emerges from this tournament, it is likely to be Condit. He is a young fighter that is good enough that he doesn’t realize that he shouldn’t be defeating fighters with the worldly experience that the fighters in this tournament bring. But Charuto has only lost to Matt Hughes and Frank Trigg, so he’s used to difficult challenges. This is a tough fight to call. If it goes to the ground, expect a win for Charuto unless Condit can gain a ground and pound position. If the fight is on the feet, don’t be too surprised at an upset.