By: Riccardo Ammendolia
Around 2002 I did an interview with Romero Jacare Cavalcanti, for OntheMat.com During the discussion, Jacare listed off a group of his stars from Alliance and Master team. At one point he said “We have a kid named Marcelinho who trains with Fabio Gurgel who’s doing very good”… I didn’t think much of it at the time.
Fast forward to 2003, Brasillian ADCC qualifiers. A student of Fabio Gurgel comes to the qualifiers to compete. Marcelo Garcia, originally from Minas Gerais, demonstrated a display of techniques that had created a buzz in the BJJ scene. Unfortunately Marcelo lost to Daniel Moraes in the finals of the trials, but this was definitely the tournament that got Marcelinho noticed.
Here’s one of the matches.
Now, Marcelo didn’t get an invite to the actual worlds which would also be in Brazil later on, but as a 3rd round alternate, Marcelo was finally accepted into the competition and his legend was born.
First was Japanese Grappler Kiuma Kunioku.
Next was Renzo Gracie, the legend and former ADCC Champ.
Then was the very dangerous grappler, (and my pic to win the division that year, Vitor Shaolin Ribeiro).
Then, Marcelo got to the finals and you know the rest!
At this time, people really had no idea either who Marcelo was, or how the heck was he destroying all of these fighters so easily?
Was it his crazy new guard position the X-Guard? Or his arm drags? Or maybe he had some secret to his rear naked choke? Or…could it just be that Marcelo is one of the hardest working grapplers in the sport and is just that damn good? Either way, this was how things started and his legend began. Since this event, he has been on a terror and suffered only a few losses, but regardless of his wins or losses, Marcelo’s execution as well as his funny personality, make him who he is today. A Grapplers loved by everybody, who everyone wants to learn from and tries to emulate.
I have had the honor to train with Marcelo many times, and what makes the sessions so special, is to know that every time, he will be winning with something completely different than the last time.