One of the great black belts produced by Carlson Gracie, Zé Mario Sperry didn’t just make a name for himself in MMA, with his performances in the Pride FC promotion. In the gi, Zé won the absolute division of the World Championship in 1998, overcoming Roberto “Roleta” Magalhães in the final. The old-schoolers will also remember, for example, the match with Léo Dalla at Hotel Nacional in the early nineties. At a time marked by fierce inter-academy rivalry, Sperry took to doing push-ups after winning.
Time went by and the rivalry turned to friendship, like in the recent ADCC supermatch where “Zé Machine”, 45, overcame Renzo Gracie, 44, in a match where both showed they still have plenty of fuel left in the old tank. The encounter with Rnezo rekindled Sperry’s love of training, which he carries on doing at Team Nogueira headquarters in Rio de Janeiro.
So our editor of photography, Gustavo Aragão, was there last Wednesday, February 29, and witnessed the fighter being rewarded the fifth stripe on his black belt by red belt João Alberto Barreto. Rodrigo Antunes and Marcio Livio also received stripes.
Watch the promotion ceremony and, to boot, rolling with beasts like Rogério Minotauro.
Video by Gustavo Aragão