Marcelino Freitas moves to Australia and explains Worlds absence

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There were a lot of Jiu-Jitsu aficionados scratching their heads when the name Marcelino Freitas didn’t appear in the later stages of the 2010 World Championship featherweight dispute. The black belt confirmed the top-tier status he has long held among insiders and pulled his name out of international obscurity when he won the New York Open and fought on even terms with four-time world champion Rubens Charles “Cobrinha” in the Pan-American Jiu-Jitsu Championship final earlier this year.

Already in the country for a stint teaching at Vitor “Shaolin” Ribeiro’s academy in New York, Marcelino was signed up for the World Championship and raring to go, when an unfortunate training injury dashed his hopes of making the big splash in the world Jiu-Jitsu circuit he craved. In spite of the setback, though, the André Pederneiras black belt and training partner to MMA stars like José Aldo Jr, Marlon Sandro, Wagnney Fabiano and the rest of the rugged Nova União roster still sees a broad horizon ahead of him and has high hopes for what is to come, as he embarks on another big adventure, in the Land Down Under.

Marcelino at Australian embassy in Washington DC. Photo: Personal archive

The truth is that his move to Melbourne, Australia, had been brewing for some time before his Worlds misfortune, and a good showing at the World Championship was just what he wanted so he could show up and teach at his new home in style. When what was to be one of his final training sessions before winding down one week from the big event ended in excruciating pain, Freitas knew deep down that his dream of facing the burly featherweight favorites had come to an end, but retained stubborn hope. He spent the rest of the week applying ice to the afflicted region and running to keep in shape.

“I had a good idea I wouldn’t be able to compete when it happened,” said Marcelino, regarding the ribs that popped out when training partner and stalwart black belt Steve Rosenberg fastened a figure-four around his rib cage as the two went through their final preparations for the Worlds at GMA Gustavo Dantas’s gym in Arizona. “I knew it was serious and would probably mean I couldn’t compete. I just held on to hope and trained as best I could, to have a go at it,” he continued, revealing the magnitude of the let down to him – and the degree of misfortune Jiu-Jitsu lovers unknowingly suffered in not catching the ace in action –, “I knew I was in great shape. I was in much better shape than I was at the New York Open and the Pan. I only really started real competition training after the New York Open because I was teaching the whole time and didn’t have time to train properly. I did proper competition training for the Worlds, and that I wasn’t able to show it was just bad luck.”

Marcelino ignored the discomfort and went for it at the Worlds, only to desist after taking a two-point lead one minute into his first and only match. The pain was unbearable.

Marcelino celebrates gold over Renan Borges at NY Open. Photo: Luca Atalla

But Marcelino’s long-term plans were not contingent on success at the Worlds, and now, after a week’s visit home, he heads to Melbourne, Australia, to take the reins as Jiu-Jitsu instructor at Extreme JJG (Jiu-Jitsu and Grappling), the academy of Australia’s foremost grappling-arts master John Donehue, a black belt in judo under the legendary Gene LeBell as well as one in Jiu-Jitsu under the great Rigan Machado.

His competitive aspirations may have suffered a setback, but 2008’s Brazilian National champion is upbeat about his prospects in the vocation of Jiu-Jitsu teacher he has practised over the last five years.

“I’m just really excited about going. I’ve been excited about going ever since the opportunity arose, and I can hardly believe the time has finally come,” he said, when asked about what his flight to the other end of the world this Friday, June 26, means to him. “I’m just really thankful for the opportunity. I really want to get out in the world and teach what I know to people who want to learn what I have to teach. This opportunity means so much to me because I will get to have my own class, teach using my own style, have my own students. Getting to see and teach in New York was cool, but I didn’t have any of that; I had to teach someone else’s students using his method. Now I get to teach my way,” he set forth, painting a picture of what he looks forward to when he gets to his new destination.

Marcelino against Gustavo Carpio at NY Open. Photo: Luca Atalla

But if anyone is led to believe the ill-fated incursion into the 2010 World Championship and subsequent move means Marcelino’s competitive career is on hold, they are sorely mistaken. “There’s a bunch of black belts and competitions down there. I plan to carry on competing. I’m going to compete at the regional tournaments and have the World Pro tryouts marked on my calendar. I want to get my students ready to win and compete alongside them,” he says, announcing the arrival of a new force to be reckoned with in the Land Down Under.

Check out Marcelino’s highlight video:

For Marcelino’s students in Australia to prepare for what’s in store for them, check out this video of seven positions taught by Marcelino that was previously featured here on

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