Samuel Braga shoves Gui Mendes after the whistle at the 2009 BJJ World Championship.
If one visits the IBJJF results page for the 2009 BJJ Mundials, one will notice that the light featherweight division omits the silver medal from its listing. The winners read: First place, Guilherme Mendes (Atos); Third place, Carlos Vieira (CheckMat BJJ); Third place, Daniel Beleza (Army of Combative). That is, no one earned second place!
Here is why.
Those who were following our live play-by-play of the 2009 BJJ Mundials finals may remember the match to determine first and second place in the mens black belt light featherweight division between Samuel Braga (Gracie Barra) and Guilherme Mendes (Atos), which began at the 5:00 timestamp in our coverage. The match between these two was a pretty slow affair that lasted ten minutes, the full duration of the time allowed for black belt matches. When time ran out and the whistle blew, the score between the two was still 0-0 and Mendes was ahead by advantages, putting Mendes in line for the gold medal and Braga in line for the silver.
Knowing that the advantages gave him the victory, Mendes stood up, faced the stands where the Alliance and Gracie Barra teams were sitting and made a motion as if slicing through the air with an imaginary sword. This has been a trademark of Atos competitors since the recent Abu Dhabi Pro that recently took place.
Upon seeing Mendes’ post-match celebration, Braga took offense, came across the mat and shoved Mendes. This drew quite a vocal reaction among the spectators, and the two were separated by the referee until things calmed down. The shove was a true demonstration of poor sportsmanship. Moments later, after the referee had raised Mendes’ hand in victory, Mendes offered a conciliatory embrace to Braga. Instead, Braga walked away.
After the following match ended, it was announced over the public address that the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation had taken the bold move of not awarding Braga the silver medal. The IBJJF’s message was clear: you might not care for your opponent’s victory celebration, but under no circumstances is it acceptable to initiate a physical altercation with them. Later that evening Braga was seen discussing the situation with members of the IBJJF officiating team, presumably asking forgiveness, but to no avail.
Brazilian jiu-jitsu tends to make its practitioners stable, more grounded and self-assured. No one, least of all a black belt in the sport, should demonstrate the lack of control shown by Braga on Sunday. The IBJJF is to be commended for taking a strong stance with such behavior. Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioners must behave in a positive manner for jiu-jitsu to gain the popular recognition it deserves.