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Romulo “Rominho” Barral

Romulo Barral is a retired professional grappler as well as one of the top Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu coaches in the world. Tipped as “The Number 1 BJJ fighter in the world” by Gracie Mag in 2007, Romulo Barral maintained his top tier black belt status in the years that followed with consistent medals at the top jiu-jitsu tournaments, reaching BJJ Heroes’ Top 10 Competitors of All Time ranking. Originally from Belo Horizonte in Brazil, Romulo Barral established his own successful jiu-jitsu academy in California — United States, named Gracie Barra Northridge.

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Full Name: Rômulo Claudio Barral

Nickname: Rominho. The suffix “inho” in Portuguese is used as an endearing way of saying someone’s name.

Lineage: Carlos Gracie > Helio Gracie > Carlos Gracie Junior > Vinicius Magalhães > Romulo Barral

Main Achievements:

  • 1st Place ADCC World Championship (2013)
  • 1st Place IBJJF World Championship (2014/2013/2012/2009/2007)
  • 1st Place IBJJF World Masters Championship (2016 Master 1)
  • 1st Place IBJJF Pan Championship (2007**)
  • 1st Place IBJJF European Open (2016**)
  • 1st Place CBJJ Brazilian Nationals (2006/2007)
  • 1st Place IBJJF World No-Gi Championship (2009)
  • 1st Place IBJJF European Open (2013)
  • 2nd Place IBJJF World Championship (2016/2014/2011/2010**/2009*/2007*)
  • 2nd Place IBJJF Pan Championship (2016/2009)
  • 3rd Place IBJJF World Championship (2017/2006)
  • 3rd Place IBJJF Pan Championship (2017/2013/2013*/2006)

* Absolute
** Weight and absolute

Weight Category: Meio Pesado (88kg-194lbs)

Favorite Position/Technique: Spider Guard and Triangle

Team/Association: Gracie-Barra

Romulo Barral Biography

Romulo Barral was born on May 3, 1982, in Belo Horizonte, State of Minas Gerais – Brazil.

Like many young boys, Romulo fell in love with martial arts through the movies, joining a taekwondo academy when he was 8 years old. Barral carried on training for many years, achieving a black belt in the striking based combat style, though he eventually stopped training by the time he was 19.

“Rominho” started training jiu-jitsu when he was 15 years old, at the Gracie Barra BH academy. His first coach there being Cristiano Lazzarini and Vinicius Magalhaes. Barral’s true intentions behind joining a grappling club were to learn enough to start fighting mixed martial arts (MMA), a wish that came through in 2004 when he was invited to fight at the Arena BH, a successful debut won by mata Leão choke (RNC).

A strong believer in the benefits of the gi game (kimono) for submission wrestling and MMA, he never stopped training with the Gi, even when preparing for this type of events, progressing through Gracie Barra’s belt system and earning his black belt on December 2005 from the hands of Vinicius “Draculino”.

As a black belt, Romulo quickly established himself as one of the top figures in the medium-heavyweight division of jiu-jitsu, through numerous victories at an international level. These victories that didn’t pass unnoticed by many MMA aces who invited Romulo do be their BJJ coach, fighters like Dan Henderson, King Mo, Jason “Mayhem” Miller among others had the privilege to train and be taught in the gentle art by Romulo.

Romulo Barral moved to the United States in the early 2010s where he taught at Alberto Crane’s school in the Los Angeles area. He then opened his own Gracie Barra academy in Northridge, California, a gym that became a hub for GB’s top talent.

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Claudia “Claudinha” Gadelha

Claudia Gadhela is a retired Brazilian mixed martial artist who competed in the Women’s Strawweight division of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). 

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Full name: Ana Cláudia Dantas Gadelha

Nickname: Claudinha

Achievements (Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu):

  • BJJ world champion (three times)
  • BJJ Rio International Open champion (four times)
  • BJJ Brazilian Nationals champion (seven times)

Achievements (Mixed martial arts):

  • Ultimate Fighting Championship
    – Competed in and won the First Women’s Strawweight fight in UFC History
    – Fight of the Night (Two times) vs. Joanna Jędrzejczyk & Jéssica Andrade
    – Performance of the Night (One time) vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz
  • Women’s MMA Awards
    – 2013 Fan Favorite Fighter of the Year
  •  MMAjunkie.com
    – 2016 July Fight of the Month vs. Joanna Jędrzejczyk
    – 2017 September Fight of the Month vs. Jéssica Andrade

Weight Division: Strawweight (52 kg / 115 lb)

Team/Association: Nick Catone MMA

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Kauan Barboza

Kauan Barboza is a jiu-jitsu black belt under André “Alemão” Vasconcelos, who worked extensively with coaches Ari “Galo” and Leonardo Vieira, having represented the Carlson Gracie Academy in the past and, later, the Checkmat team. Barboza became widely recognized as one of the sport’s rising stars during his colored belt career, a time when he earned medals in the IBJJF (International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation) World Championships and Brazilian Nationals. He would later cement that status with an outstanding career on the professional circuit.

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Full Name: Kauan Argimon Barboza

Nickname: N/A

Lineage: C. Gracie > Carlson Gracie > Carlson Gracie Jr > André Vasconcelos > Kauan Barboza

Main Achievements:

  • 1st Place SJJIF World Championship (2017)
  • 1st Place IBJJF Atlanta Summer Open (2018)
  • 1st Place IBJJF Chicago Summer Open (2018)
  • 1st Place IBJJF Chicago Summer Open NoGi (2018)
  • 1st Place IBJJF Nashville Fall Open (2018)
  • 1st Place IBJJF Los Angeles Open (2018)
  • 1st Place IBJJF NY Summer Open (2017)
  • 1st Place IBJJF Seattle Open (2018)
  • 1st Place IBJJF Fresno OPen (2019)
  • 1st Place IBJJF Phoenix OPen (2019)
  • 2nd Place IBJJF Long Beach Open (2019)
  • 2nd Place IBJJF Miami Winter Open (2019)
  • 3rd Place IBJJF Boston Spring Open (2018)
  • 3rd Place IBJJF Dallas Fall Open (2017)
  • 3rd Place IBJJF Miami Fall Open (2017)
  • 3rd Place IBJJF San Jose Open (2019)

Main Achievements (Colored Belts):

  • 1st Place IBJJF Rio Open (2014 purple)
  • 2nd Place IBJJF World Championship (2014/2016 purple)

Main Achievements (Juvenile):

  • 1st Place IBJJF World Championship (2013)
  • 3rd Place IBJJF World Championship (2013*)
  • 2nd Place CBJJ Brazilian Nationals (2012 / 2013)

* Absolute
** Weight and Absolute

Favorite Position/Technique: Modern Guard

Weight Division: Peso Leve (76,00 kg / 168.0 lbs)

Team/Association: Checkmat

Kauan Barboza Biography

Kauan Barboza was born on May 7, 1996, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where he was raised.

As a child, Kauan’s sporting interests lied solely with football (soccer), yet, during his early teens, martial arts sparked his interest, particularly judo. Although Barboza asked his parents to join a club where the famous Japanese trade was taught, his father was good friends with a local jiu-jitsu black belt and decided to sign the young man with his friend’s gym Instead. That friend was Ari “Galo”, a well-known member of the Carlson Gracie Academy.

In 2015, then a purple belt, Kauan traveled to North America with teammate Alexandre Molinaro to compete at the IBJJF No-Gi World and Pan Championship. During their trip, they met another Carlson Gracie team member and gym owner, André Vasconcelos (Alemão), who offered to sponsor both athletes and help them remain in the country in order to compete year-round in the sport’s most competitive circuit. The offer was accepted by the competitors who rapidly made their names known in America.

Barboza would earn his brown and black belts from Alemão, the latter of which at a ceremony held on the 5th of June of 2017.

During his time in the USA, Kauan made many good friendships at the Checkmat Headquarters Academy, in California, marrying a member of the team. This close-knit relationship with the Los Angeles workgroup led Kauan to discuss with coach André Vasconcelos a move to the US West Coast and Barboza’s affiliation to Checkmat. A decision fully supported by Alemão at the time.

Well received by team leader Leozinho Vieira, Barboza would later be offered a position as a coach in the well known grappling gym – Checkmat Headquarters.

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Lucas Lira

Starting out his sporting career from his hometown of João Pessoa (the capital of the Paraíba state in Brazil), Lira went through an array of competitive activities before he found his calling for jiu-jitsu back in 2015. According to Luccas, the match between Luccas and grappling was purely coincidental, as he told BJJ Heroes in an interview back in February 2022

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I started [BJJ] because they had mats on the second floor of the gym where I used to lift weights. One day I went there and tried a class.

Lira started training with coach Carlos Augusto, also known as “Zau”, who is himself a student of Bob Esponja and a member of Halavanca, a well-known jiu-jitsu school in the region.

Although Lucas had positive competitive results almost immediately, becoming a pro-athlete was far from Luccas’ mind early on. That seed of thought was planted a couple of years later.

As a blue belt, Luccas’ international career started shaping up through a South American title (2018), which galvanized Lira to push forward with his competitive aspirations. That same year, the young Paraíba native competed at the World Pro Championships in Abu Dhabi against one of team Fight Sports’ rising stars, Felipe Porto. Lira and Porto became friends after the match, so much so that Felipe invited Luccas to a training camp with his team in Miami Florida ahead of the IBJJF World Championships the following year, an offer accepted by Lira.

The experience at Fight Sports in Miami only further enhanced Lira’s love for the sport, and after earning a 3rd Place at the famous Mundial, Luccas opted to remain under Roberto Abreu’s wing and become a FS squad member. Later that year, another groundbreaking moment for the young athlete, his first World No-Gi title. “When I won double gold at IBJJF No-Gi Worlds (2019) that made me understand that I was really good and that if I dedicated my life to it I would be one of the big names in the sport. Also winning World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship in Abu Dhabi and earning 4.000$ made me know I was pretty good.

“Pretty good” is definitely an understatement from the young athlete who just turned 24 in January. Since his purple belt days back in 2021, Lira has rampted up his career by shifting his focus to no-gi jiu-jitsu with two recent attempts at the ADCC Trials, losing both to the division’s winners and well established black belts. The first in the quarter-finals (by decision) and the second trials tournament in the final, cementing his claim to being one of the top light-heavyweight grapplers in the world right now, despite his current brown belt status.

His 8 match performance at the ADCC Trials may earn him an invite to the big show in September, time will tell if he swayed the organization’s promoters. That aside, one thing is certain, Lira will be a name to remember in this sport.

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Marco “Xassi” Canha

Marco Canha is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt, graduated under the legendary Ricardo Vieira at the Fightzone academy (Checkmat headquarters in Rio de Janeiro). Born in the “Mecca” of jiu-jitsu, Marco Canha made a name for himself as one of the hottest new prospects to come out of the Checkmat Academy, he has since moved to Europe, where he opened up his own affiliate of Fightzone in London (check Fightzone London website).

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Full name: Marco Aurelio Oliveira Canha

Nickname: “Xassi”, which is short for “Xassi de Grilo” (cricket chassis). The name was given as a joke due to Canha’s small frame.

Lineage: Mitsuyo Maeda > Carlos Gracie > Helio Gracie > Rolls Gracie > Romero Cavalcanti > Ricardo Vieira > Marco Canha

Main Achievements:

  • 1st Place IBJJF London Open (2013/2014 Master 1)
  • 1st Place IBJJF London NoGi Open (2013/2014 Master 1)
  • 1st Place IBJJF London Winter Open (2019 Master 2)
  • 1st Place IBJJF London Fall Open (2018 Master 2)
  • 1st Place IBJJF Dublin Open (2018 Master 2)
  • 1st Place IBJJF Dublin NoGi Open (2018 Master 2)
  • 1st Place UKBJJA British Open (2014)
  • 1st Place UAEJJF Grand Slam Tour, LDN (2019 Master 1)
  • 2nd Place IBJJF European No-Gi Open (2012 Master 1)
  • 2nd Place IBJJF London Open (2012 Master 1)
  • 2nd Place IBJJF London Fall Open (2015 Master 1)
  • 2nd Place FJJ-R Rio de Janeiro State Championship (2009)
  • 3rd Place FJJ-R Rio de Janeiro State Championship (2009**)
  • 3rd Place SWOPBJJ Scandinavian Open (2009)
  • 2nd Place UKBJJA NOGI British National Open (2009)
  • 2nd CBJJ Brazilian Nationals (Blue Belt Division 1997)

* Absolute
** Weight and absolute

Favorite Position/Technique: Half-Guard

Weight Division: Leve (Lightweight) 76kg-167lbs.

Association/Team: Checkmat

Marco Canha’s Biography

Marco Canha was born on the 25th of January 1982 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. His first steps into the martial arts world were through Judo when he was still a toddler. It was only later in his life that he fell in love with martial arts and Jiu Jitsu in particular, after watching the first UFC seeing Royce Gracie win the event.

He started training BJJ in 1994 with Murilo Bustamante and Sergio “Bolao” in an academy close to his house. The contact with the Carlson Gracie black belts was short and Canha soon moved from one fantastic coach to another, Roberto Traven.

He stayed with Roberto Traven through the ranks, from Yellow Belt, to Blue Belt. When Traven moved to Australia, Canha took instruction from Muzio de Angelis. Muzio (who graduated him as a purple belt) was the man that truly instigated Marco to follow a jiu jitsu career and believed in his skill. At a later stage, Marco started training with another legendary jiu jitsu coach in Ricardo Vieira at the famous Fight Zone Academy in Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro. Marco Canha received his Black Belt from Ricardo in 2008.

In his first competition as a black belt, Marco took 3rd place in the Open Weight Division at the Rio de Janeiro State Championship – arguably the hardest State to compete in. This was an important landmark in Marco’s career as he had not competed as a Brown Belt. In 2010 Marco Canha moved to London in the United Kingdom and became London Fight Factory’s head jiu-jitsu coach. It was in London on 2011 that Marco Canha awarded his first black belts (Keith Mckenzie and Andre Borges).

On December 2012 Marco Canha opened up his own martial arts gym named Fightzone London, a direct affiliate of the Fightzone Academy in Rio de Janeiro.

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Valmyr “Mamulengo” Neto

Valmyr Neto is one of the top Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belts competing and coaching in the United Kingdom. Originally from Belém do Pará (the birthplace of Jiu Jitsu in Brazil), Neto travelled to England after he earned his black belt from Walter “Broca”, where he established his team in the region of Gravesend, Kent.

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Full Name: Valmyr Mattos Pereira Neto

Nickname: Mamulengo a style of puppet, typical of the northeast region of Brazil, where Neto is from. The nickname came about as a joke, given by his Brazilian team mates in London when Valmyr came to the United Kingdom.

Lineage: Mitsuyo Maeda > Carlos Gracie > Carlson Gracie >Ricardo De La Riva >Alexey Cruz > Walter Broca > Valmyr Neto

Main Achievements:

  • Para State Champion (2007)
  • Seni Champion – Gracie Invitational (2010)
  • British Open Champion (2011)
  • Bournemouth Open Champion – superfight (2011)
  • Rolling Thunder Champion (2011)
  • Bristol open 2009 Silver Medallist (fought one weight division above)
  • Para State Silver Medallist (2006)
  • World Pro Cup Trials 3 rd Place (2011)
  • Para State Bronze Medallist (2007 – open weight)

Favourite Position/Technique: Half Guard

Weight Division: Peso Pena (70kg/154lbs)

Team/Association: Checkmat/VN Team

Valmyr Neto Biography

Valmyr Neto was born on the 17th of December, 1983 in Belem, state of Pará in Brazil. He started practicing martial arts through a short spell at Judo before he turned to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Neto watched the very first UFC’s with his father and was really impressed with Royce Gracie’s heroics, so much that almost imediatly he sought an academy where he could train.

Starting in 1998, Valmyr Neto’s first BJJ instructor was the former world champion Marcus Norat. Marcus graduated Neto with his yellow and blue belts, but shortly after Valmyr switched to a different school and began his tuition with the prestigious Walter “Broca” receiving all belts by “Broca” from their on, including his black belt in October 2006.

In 2008, his good friend Rodrigo Cabral invited Neto to come to England and spend some time with him. Upon arrival Valmyr was invited to coach at an academy in Swanley (Kent). Neto had planed to make a living from teaching BJJ in the future and grabbed the opportunity. Later, through a contact from the Swanley academy, Neto met another gym owner named Dhell who was opening the DFC academy in Gravesend. Dhell invited Neto to be the head coach there, a challenge accepted by Neto. Since accepting the job, Neto has made a tremendous job in the region, taking another step into making England one of the most prosperous grappling countries in Europe.

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Marcelo “Faustinho” Fausto

Marcelo Fausto de Abreu Montanagna, commonly known as Marcelo Fausto, is a jiu-jitsu black belt under Thiago Abreu (Baiano), who was developed in The House FC in São Paulo, Brazil, an affiliate of Team Checkmat that is widely recognized as one of the utmost grappling academies in the jiu-jitsu world. Marcelo made a name for himself as a big player in the BJJ world during his colored belt career, a status he cemented in his first year competing in the pro-division (black belt) with wins over big names such as Ashley Williams, AJ Agazarm, and Igor Feliz.

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Full Name: Marcelo Fausto de Abreu Montanagna

Nickname: Often referred to as “Faustinho”, an amicable way of saying the family name Fausto in Portuguese jargon.

Lineage: Carlos Gracie > Helio Gracie > Carlson Gracie > Élcio Figueiredo > Rodrigo Cavaca > Thiago Abreu > Marcelo Fausto

Main Achievements:

  • 1st Place ADCJJ World Championship (2021)
  • 2nd Place IBJJF European Open (2022)

Main Achievements (Colored Belts):

  • 1st Place IBJJF World Championship (2018 blue)
  • 1st Place IBJJF Pans Championship (2018 blue)
  • 1st Place IBJJF Brazilian Nationals NOGI (2019 purple)
  • 3rd Place IBJJF World Championship (2019 purple)
  • 3rd Place IBJJF Pans Championship (2019 purple)
  • 3rd Place IBJJF South American Championship (2018 purple)

Main Achievements (Juvenile):

  • 1st Place IBJJF Brazilian Nationals NOGI (2017)
  • 3rd Place IBJJF Brazilian Nationals NOGI (2017)

Favorite Position/Technique: Botinha (Collar-Grip Straight Ankle Lock)

Weight Division: Peso Leve (76,00 kg / 168.0 lbs)

Team/Association: Checkmat

Marcelo Fausto Biography

Marcelo Fausto was born on November 20, 2000, in São Vicente, on the coastal line of the Brazilian state of São Paulo.

An active and sporty kid growing up, Marcelo was first introduced to martial arts through judo, a sport his father admired greatly and practiced diligently. Despite his dad’s love for the Japanese art of throwing, Fasto did not share the sentiment, and instead would often cause trouble in class. So much so that he abandoned the sport shortly after starting, making two more (unsuccessful) returns at the age of 7, and 9.

The gym where Marcelo Fausto practiced judo also ran a jiu-jitsu kids program, which started every day just after judo practice. Fausto would often interact with the BJJ children in between classes and eventually decided to try his luck on the BJJ mats.

Starting out jiu-jitsu around the age of 10-to-11 years old at the local Checkmat BJJ team affiliate (led by coach “Tio Chico”) Marcelo quickly discovered he was more in tune with the scrappiness and freedom of movement allowed on the BJJ mats opposed to the more rigid system taught in judo. Characteristics that led the São Vicente native to pursue jiu-jitsu more seriously than any other sport until then.

Guided by Tio Chico (Valdir Canuto), Fausto was promoted from white to orange belt. After that, for convenience/location purposes, Marcelo joined his cousin Marcel Ribeiro at another Checkmat affiliate where he was promoted to blue belt.

As a blue belt, Marcelo started studying in the neighboring city of Santos and, as a consequence, he joined The House – one of the sport’s most revered academies where many of Checkmat’s main stars spawned from. While at The House, Fausto trained under the guidance of Thiago Abreu and Gabriel Rollo.

It was also while training at The House that Marcelo started taking jiu-jitsu more seriously, making his first attempts at training and competing under a full-time regime – despite his parents’ vehement opposition at the start. During this process, juvenile Marcelo Fausto would often compete in the adult division (when there was prize money) and win. It was also then that he made his first trip to the IBJJF World Championships in 2017, suffering a disappointing loss in the second round of the tournament. Unhappy with his performance, Marcelo came back for more the following year and was able to conquer a gold medal, submitting 6 out of his 7 opponents.

This gradual growth of Marcelo Fausto’s career saw him earn promotions all the way up to black belt by The House head coach, Thiago Abreu. His black belt promotion taking place on February 26, 2021.

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