by Ken Pishna – MMAWeekly.com
One of the elder statesmen of the Gracie clan, and with a mixed martial arts career that officially began in 1992, it’s somewhat surprising that Renzo Gracie has never competed for the promotional juggernaut that his family started, the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

Until now, that is.

The 42-year-old Gracie on Wednesday, in an interview with Combate.com’s Paula Sack, confirmed wide speculation that he has indeed signed to make his promotional debut for the UFC in 2010.

“(At) the age of 42 (Renzo) has just signed with the largest MMA event on the planet!” wrote Sack in here blog, which accompanied a four-minute video interview.

Gracie was all but an afterthought following a stretch where he lost six of seven bouts, including losing a K-1 superfight with B.J. Penn in Hawaii in July of 2005.

He made a surprising return while coach of his own International Fight League (IFL) team in late 2006 with a first round submission of Pat Miletich. The win was the first in a three-fight stretch that saw him avenge a loss to former UFC champion Carlos Newton, and score a controversial win over Frank Shamrock by disqualification.

That was nearly three years ago, though. Prior to signing with the UFC, Gracie had once again faded into the background as a coach to several top fighters, such as Matt Serra and Ricardo Almeida.

His UFC debut date and opponent have yet to be revealed. There has been strong speculation that he would premier against former UFC welterweight champion Matt Hughes, who recently revealed that his next fight would be on April 10. Hughes however played coy on the location and opponent for that date, leading many to believe it very well could be Gracie.

UFC welterweight Matt Brown, however, recently tossed his hat in the ring, campaigning to matchmaker Joe Silva for the first shot at Gracie.

“I’ve met Renzo a few times and I think he’s one of the greatest guys in the world. I’ve trained at his gym a bunch of times. I’ve got absolutely nothing but respect for the guy. I think he’s one of the greatest ever, but that’s why I want to fight him,” said Brown.

“He’s a legend and he needs a warm-up fight. I’d love to fight a Matt Hughes (too), but he’s not going to fight someone like me right now.”

There has been no official word from the UFC on Gracie’s signing or when he might debut.