Renzo Gracie: I didn’t punch club bouncer, because he ‘chickened out’
Renzo Gracie wanted to teach the bouncer outside of a New York City club a lesson. But he said he never punched him.
Gracie, the legendary MMA fighter and trainer, said to Ariel Helwani on "The MMA Hour" on Monday that the doorman at 1OAK was not letting people into the trendy hot spot, calling women "fat and ugly" in the early-morning hours of May 19. Gracie, who said he had encountered the man at the club one other time, said he would not stand for such "prejudice." He said the bouncer’s words were worse than being called the N-word.
So Gracie said he took matters into his own hands, confronting the doorman, whose name is reportedly Craig Molesphini. The bouncer did not respond the way Gracie would have liked. Gracie said he took him to the ground and mounted him, ready to rain down punches. But Gracie said he never hit Molesphini, because Molesphini begged him off.
"I would never hit someone who chickened out," Gracie said. "He asked for a towel. He asked to leave (the fight). I couldn’t hit him."
According to reports, what transpired next was a scuffle between 1OAK bouncers and the people Gracie came with, including his cousins Igor and Gregor Gracie, both MMA fighters and trainers. The group was out that night celebrating the birthday of MMA fighter Andre Gusmao.
I would never hit someone who chickened out.
The police came and Gracie and the six men he was with were arrested on charges of gang assault, according to the NYPD. Molesphini reportedly broke his arm in the incident.
Gracie said calling it gang assault was "ridiculous," because it was never three or more men beating up one man, which is how the law is written in New York. Those charges were reduced at arraignment to misdemeanor (third-degree) assault May 20, and all seven men were eventually released on $10,000 bail. Gracie said he waited for everyone else to be released before he left jail.
"I couldn’t leave them," Gracie said. "It was my fault I was in there. I was the one who lost my temper."
Gracie, 47, said no punches were thrown in the incident at all. He claims it was just a lot of pushing and shoving. Gracie — who trains the likes of former UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre, former UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar and UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman at his New York academy — said there is video proof of his side of the story.
He and the six others are due back in court July 17. Prosecutors still could charge them with a felony, according to the New York Daily News.
Molesphini’s version of events differs greatly. He told the New York Post that he was attacked by all seven men, who jumped out of a van. Molesphini called it a premeditated, planned assault and compared it with the Bruce Lee film "Enter the Dragon."
"All of the seven men were fighting, doing MMA moves on the guards, some of whom were injured," Molesphini said. "When the police arrived, they tried to get away, but the cops parked in front of their van, which was waiting with a driver."
Molesphini said the "attack" was retribution for not letting "two of their masters" into the club a week earlier. Molesphini’s lawyer Salvatore Strazzullo said his client could also file a civil assault claim.
Gracie said he did not break Molesphini’s arm.
"I wish I did," Gracie said. "I wish I had done that. Because I’m being blamed for something I didn’t do."
I wish I did. I wish I had done that. Because I’m being blamed for something I didn’t do.
-Renzo Gracie on bouncer's broken arm
Gracie said he could not let Molesphini continue his behavior toward potential patrons and said people "hate him" in the nightlife industry.
"A smart guy who knows how much they have to lose, they just walk away," Gracie said. "I can’t do that."