Here in Rio there are famous BJJ and MMA guys around every corner and the longer you stay the more you will meet. This is the birthplace and home to almost every BJJ world champion ever, so the odds of seeing one are better here than anywhere in the world. I have been lucky enough to train with a lot of big names here so far and here are (in no particular order) my favourite 10.
The Best BJJ in Rio
During the beginning of my trip I went to Terere’s academy with a few guys from connection rio. Not only did he take the class himself (I’m told he almost always does, even though there are four a day) but he also rolled with some of us visitors. Before he has actually taken the time to roll with every visitor in his academy.
2. Yan Cabral
Halfway through our visit to Terere’s academy Yan showed up. He even rolled with some of use guys as well as Terere’s. He was also one of the many super high level black belts there during our visit to Nova Uniao.
3. Thales Leites
This UFC fighter was also there during our Nova Uniao visit, although I must confess I didn’t immediately spot him among the 18 black belts there that night.
4. Leo Santos
Another big name at Niva Uniao the night we visited, but one I did recognise immediately. The current UFC fighter and ex-world-class jiu-jitsu competitor was another great presence to have on the mats.
5.Antonio Braga Neto
This super-heavy weight world champion is always hanging around Gordo’s, taking up a lot of space and trashing high level black belts. He is a friendly guy with some scary jiu-jitsu.
6. Rafael Henrique
Rafael is a fixture here at Gordo’s training most nights. He is the current brown belt light weight world champion. It is great to have a current world class competitor on the mats, espetially for the smaller guys.
7. Kyra Gracie
She is another regular at Gordos. The ADCC world champion does most of here training when here in Brazil at Gordos and can often be seen on the mats not only rolling but also showing moves. She is one of several Gracies that base there training at Gordos.
8. Kit Dale
The jiu-jitsu prodigy is also staying at the Connection Rio house at the moment and has immediately settled into to the relaxed spirit here as well as having a wealth of knowledge. He was also great to roll with, having a super technical varied game.
9. Travis Stevens
The second of the Copa Podio competitors on this list, the first being Kit, he is not just a two time judo Olympian but also a very high level BJJ brown belt. He rolls with technical pressure and with killer grips that he was sometimes kind enough to let me break, with a smile on his face.
10. Mario Sperry
Just before writing this I came back from a session with the legendary Carlson Gracie black belt. He is a super friendly guy and is unbelievably athletic and strong, not to mention having the technicality that comes from training for longer than I have been alive. He is getting super sharp for his upcoming ADCC super fight with Fabio Gurgel.
Rio really is like no other place in the world for jiu-jitsu talent and this week was really a highlight for me. I often have to pinch myself and make sure I appreciate every minute of my trip here.