Brock Lesnar and Roger Gracie: A Tale of Two Champions

Gracie Barra’s Roger Gracie and UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar.

Over the weekend I got to thinking about UFC heavyweight Brock Lesnar‘s comments after soundly defeating Frank Mir at UFC 100. When he was presented the microphone, Lesnar made a string of remarks which spanned the gamut from being disrespectful to fans, sponsors, and his opponent. Now that I think about it, I am pretty sure the only person he did not insult was UFC president Dana White which would have probably been a really bad idea.

Lesnar now has apologized for his statements. Knowingly or not, the things Lesnar said will sell many pay-per-views for the UFC, as everyone likes to see the bad guy get what is coming to him. I get that. It’s apparent at first glance and has been explained in a gazillion places online like this nice writeup from MMAPayout.

But come on… seriously? Did Lesnar need to share that he feels he pulled a horseshoe out of Frank Mir’s backside? Did he need to flip off the crowd? Even in the heat of the moment, how many of us would think to behave that way?

Let’s compare the 2009 Brazilian jiu-jitsu absolute champion Roger Gracie with Brock Lesnar, who actually have a lot in common. Both are huge men who are really good at what they do. Facing Roger Gracie in competition is a question of not whether you will survive, but how long you can avoid being tapped. An octagon fight against Brock Lesnar means another countdown to an inevitable bloody defeat for his opponent. When you look at either you ask yourself, “who in the world can beat this guy?!”

At the same time, the two could not be any different.

In the multiple occasions we have interviewed Roger Gracie for The FightWorks Podcast, his soft-spoken manner usually leaves me trying to push my audio recorder closer to his face for fear of not catching what he is saying. (My respect for his ability to mount and choke every human he feels like prevents me from invading his space too much.) He is calm and completely respectful when you ask him about the throngs of very, very tough guys who have tried to end his streak of invincibility.

Call me old fashioned, but I prefer the behavior of the 2009 Brazilian jiu-jitsu absolute champion Roger Gracie. I’m not posting this to say Roger Gracie is a better champion than Brock Lesnar, or that he is a better sportsman than Lesnar. What I am saying is that for me, I prefer a champion that is easy to admire for his ridiculous athletic ability and how he carries himself.

Yes, it’s probably true that Roger Gracie will never generate the revenues that Brock Lesnar has and will in his career. But I could care less.

(In some subconscious way, am I suggesting that the culture in the Brazilian jiu-jitsu community is superior to that to that of the MMA world? Am I a BJJ elitist? I don’t know. Shred me in the comments below if you think I deserve it.)

#167 Art of War and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in China

The great wall of China.

Last week the cohost of The FightWorks Podcast cohost Dan made the looong trip from Northern Virginia to Beijing, China. The FightWorks Podcast was invited by China’s mixed martial arts promotion Art of War, which held a major MMA event on May 23, attended by such Brazilian jiu-jitsu stars as Rickson Gracie, Renzo Gracie, and many others.

In this episode Dan will relay his experience at the Art of War show and will bring back interviews from representatives of the Brazilian jiu-jitsu scene in China. Pedro Schmall, a black belt under Royler Gracie and Thomas Fan, a brown belt under Ze
Marcello (head coach of BTT Europe) have planted the seeds of Brazilian jiu-jitsu in China and have been working hard to cultivate the jiu-jitsu students in a culture which has a long tradition of and appreciation for martial arts.

[iTunes] Subscribe to the Podcast directly in iTunes (recommended)
[mp3] Download the show

Andre Galvao Debuts in MMA Tomorrow

Andre Galvao

Tomorrow Andre Galvao, the 2008 Brazilian jiu jitsu middle heavyweight world champion, will make his mixed martial arts debut in a match against Jeremiah Metcalf at a small MMA event to be held for charity, Fighting4Kidz.

Galvao is a member of Team Brasa, and his teammate Demian Maia has had a very successful and lucrative career so far in the UFC. Maia has won the Submission of the Night prize twice in the UFC, each earning a hefty $60,000.

Galvao’s opponent is no “gimme”. Metcalf has fought in over a dozen MMA fights and has won his last four fights, including fights in Strikeforce and EliteXC.

BJJ Champions Going to MMA

The trend for high-end Brazilian jiu-jitsu competitors to transition into mixed martial arts is not a new idea. BJJ is nowhere near as lucrative as fighting in MMA is, and it is doubtful that will change any time soon. So it is natural for successful BJJ guys to attempt to parlay their success on the mat to success in the cage.

But what is the best strategy for those who make that jump? Is there a best strategy? It will depend on the angle you examine the question from, but here is a quick review of a few top-level BJJ guys who have gone into MMA.

Guys Who Seem to Have Made the Transition Well

  • demian maia At the time of this writing Brasa jiu-jitsu fighter Demian Maia is 7-0 in his MMA career, and has two UFC wins behind him. Three of Maia’s first four fights occured in Brazil in organizations without too much of an international spotlight.
  • ronaldo jacare souzaRonaldo “Jacare”, like Demian Maia, began fighting in Brazil. Despite his debut fight being a loss, Jacare has come up through various organizations and since then gone undefeated. He now carries a 9-1 record and his next fight will be in Japan soon.

Guys Who Are Finding Their Way

  • gracie rogerRoger Gracie. Now 2-0 in MMA, Gracie fought once in 2006 and so far just once in 2008. It remains to be seen whether the world champion in BJJ will make MMA his focus.
  • marcelo garciaMarcelo Garcia. “Marcelinho” made his MMA debut in October 2007. While he controlled the first round of his fight against his Korean opponent in K-1 Hero’s, Garcia fell prey to a bloody cut in the second round and was forced to take the loss. No formal announcements have been made about a return to MMA action for Garcia. He recently relocated to Florida and now that he is settled perhaps we will see him give MMA another shot.

Guys Who Are Going to Take the Plunge

  • drysdale robertRobert Drysdale is now the resident grappling instructor at Randy Couture‘s gym in Las Vegas and is will be making his debut in mixed martial arts in early October. The organization in which he will fight has not been announced but wherever he ends up fighting, his debut will take place in a regional event.
  • galvao andreAndre Galvao is set to make his debut at a small mixed martial arts event in Los Angeles on August 30th. His opponent is still unknown but this is also a conservative entry into MMA for this member of Brasa.
  • xande ribeiroXande Ribeiro It was announced in that Xande will be making his MMA debut at the end of September in Japan fighting for Sengoku. It has been known for quite a while this product of Gracie Humaita was going to make the transition but details were not known. Xande has stated in interviews here on The FightWorks Podcast that he did not want to accept just any offer to fight, so that BJJ champions who follow in his steps later have a benchmark of what should be fair compensation for an athlete of his caliber.

This generation of BJJ superstars moving into MMA reaffirms to jiu-jitsu fans and practitioners everywhere that jiu-jitsu is worthwhile as a means of protecting oneself. The pressure on these guys to fight well and represent jiu-jitsu is enormous! Good luck! We are with you!

Congrats to the University of Jiu-Jitsu

Fabricio Morango camoesTonight the University of Jiu-Jitsu had a successful debut in its mixed martial arts coaching debut, as Fabrico “Morango” defeated Los Angeles area BJJ black belt Joe Camacho on the ShoXC mixed martial arts card, televised on SHOWTIME.

Saulo and Xande Ribeiro opened the University of Jiu-Jitsu about a year or so ago here in San Diego, and since then have branched out into coaching MMA fighters. Among other aspiring MMA fighters such as Diego Garijo under their care, they also help prepare UFC fighter Diego Sanchez.

Sanchez, BJJ brown belt Leo Santos, and Saulo Ribeiro were all present for Morango’s victory tonight, as was Xande Ribeiro, who has stated that he will begin his own MMA career after competing at the Brazilian jiu-jitsu world championships, or Mundials this year.

Concentration of BJJ & MMA Power

brandon vera saulo ribeiro jacare xande

┬áJust thought I’d share this picture I took on my iPhone the other day when I was at Brandon Vera‘s Alliance Training Center here in San Diego. I was present for an interview with Ronaldo Jacare Souza. Going from left to right, we have:

  • an unidentified guy
  • Rob Lovi, BJJ black belt under Pedro Sauer
  • Brandon “The Truth” Vera
  • Saulo Ribeiro (in a San Diego Chargers Ladanian Tomlinson jersey no less)
  • Jacare
  • Xande Ribeiro
  • Rudy Silva, who runs the Alliance Training Center

I was sitting with several buddies who’d attended Jacare’s seminar that day and we looked over at this group and just had to shake our heads about the amount of talent all in a single spot. Sorry about the quality of the photo. I think it would’ve been a little better if someone else’s flash hadn’t gone off at the same time as my camera took the picture.

Keep an eye out for the Jacare interview over on sometime soon!

#100 Dean Lister's New Gym in San Diego

throwdown san diego dean lister
Dean Lister’s new gym, the Throwdown Elite Training Center.

Yesterday marked the opening of a new martial arts gym in San Diego. Normally that would not distinguish it from many other days in San Diego but this facility stands apart. The Throwdown Elite Training Center will be manned by UFC fighter and San Diego local Dean Lister. Bas Rutten was on hand and claimed that this facility is the best one he’s ever seen. We’ll play audio with both Dean Lister and Bas Rutten, as well as cover more events of interest in the Brazilian jiu-jitsu world!

[iTunes] Subscribe to the Podcast directly in iTunes (recommended)
[mp3] Download the show

#99 On The Mat's Best of 2007

rafael lovato jr
Rafael Lovato Jr. is delared the gold medal winner at the BJJ Mundials against Big Mac in 2007.

On the recently announced their annual “Best of” awards for 2007 and we thought the topic was worth some examination. The editorial staff of OTM (i.e., Gumby) came on board with co-host Dan and I to give this important topic the discourse it deserves.

  • Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Player of the Year: Rafael Lovato Jr.
  • MMA Fighter of the Year: Anderson Silva
  • Female Combat Sports Athlete of the Year: Hannette Quadros Staack
  • BJJ / Grappling Instructor of the Year: Cleber Luciano
  • Submission Grappler of the Year: Alexandre “Xande” Ribeiro

[iTunes] Subscribe to the Podcast directly in iTunes (recommended)
[mp3] Download the show

BJJ and MMA Connection Evident at the No-Gi Worlds

The overlap that exists between mixed martial arts and Brazilian jiu-jitsu was evident yesterday in the number of MMA fighters who were present at the first-ever BJJ No-gi World Championships as competitors and spectators.

Just a quick run-down of personalities from the MMA world who were there:

  • Jeff “The Snowman” Monson (UFC, Pride, etc) – won the black belt no-gi absolute division. Monson also grabbed the silver medal in the Ultra Heavyweight black belt division.
  • Jess Liaudin (UFC) – competed in the purple belt open division and was submitted by a head-arm triangle from Jason Parry.
  • Vinicius Magalhaes (Gracie Fighting Championship) – won the gold medal in the Super Heavyweight division for black belts.
  • Fabio Leopoldo (IFL) – captured the silver medal in the Heavyweight black belt division.
  • Adam Lynn (IFL) – competed as a brown belt but I don’t have any results for him.
  • Diego Saraiva (UFC)- competed but I don’t have any results for him.
  • Luke Stewart (Strikeforce)- lost to Marcel Louzado for the Middle-Heavyweight championship for black belts.
  • Renato “Babalu” Sobral (UFC, EliteXC, etc) – spectated.
  • Daniel Moraes (Gracie Fighting Championships) – grabbed the silver medal in the middleweight black belt championship.
  • Ginelle Marquez (EliteXC) – won the women’s purple belt lightweight division.
  • Andy Wang (UFC) – competed in the black belt division but I don’t have any results for him.
  • Kevin Casey (Hero’s) – spectated. I spoke with Kevin and he said that he may compete in MMA in Asia again in mid-2008.
  • Josh Barnett (UFC, Pride, etc) – spectated, coached Ginele Marquez.
  • Joe Rogan – Okay so Joe didn’t compete nor is he an MMA fighter, but you see the connection. He is a brown belt in BJJ though. Keep tuned to the FightWorks Podcast for a quick conversation with the UFC commentator about the No-Gi World Championship.

Okay time to put my nose to the grindstone and get this week’s show done for you!

Ryan Gracie Found Dead in Jail Cell This Morning

ryan gracieOn the same day as the first-ever Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu No-Gi World Championship run by BJJ’s central authority, Ryan Gracie was found dead in his jail cell in Sao Paulo this morning after being arrested for stealing a car yesterday.

According to Gracie Magazine, when police visited Gracie’s cell this morning at 7am as part of the normal routine, he was found passed away. No details about the cause of death were given.

It goes without saying that the name Gracie is synonymous with Brazilian jiu-jitsu and Ryan Gracie’s passing will likely have an effect on today’s Championship, to be held in Southern California. The FightWorks Podcast will be there and will have coverage for you in tomorrow’s episode of our weekly audio show.

Our thoughts are with those who were close to the fallen fighter.