Friday, February 9, 2007

Verissimo climbs back in ring

Renato "Charuto" Verissimo wants to light a victory cigar again. That's why he came out of a nine-month "retirement" to fight on tonight's Icon Sport: All In mixed martial arts card. Verissimo will take on Iowa's Kris Fleurestil in a semi-main event of the 14-bout card at the Blaisdell Center Arena.

"I think it was too important to me to stay away from fighting, especially here in Hawai'i," Verissimo said. "I just want to come back in a good way and show everybody that I can still compete."

After losses in January and April of 2006, Verissimo announced that he was retiring from the sport. "I felt like if I couldn't compete at that level, I didn't want to compete at all," he said.

Verissimo, 33, is still considered one of the top Brazilian jiu-jitsu competitors in the world. He was raised in Brazil, but moved to Hawai'i around 10 years ago to teach jiu-jitsu. One of his prized pupils was BJ Penn, the former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) world champion.

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