Who is BJJ black belt and TUF Brazil finalist Godofredo Pepey?

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Godofredo Pepey training in Fortaleza, Brazil, before shooting to fame on TUF Brazil / Photo: Junior Samurai/GRACIEMAG.com

That Godofredo “Pepey” Castro is a Jiu-Jitsu ace and unbeaten in MMA, even Brazilian sports commentator Galvão Bueno knows. But who is the first TUF Brazil finalist really?

To begin, Pepey has been fighting since he was 12 years of age, which may help to explain some things. From the city of Fortaleza, in the Northeast Brazilian state of Ceará, the 24-year-old has amassed numerous medals around the northeastern region, both in Jiu-Jitsu and in MMA. With his crafty guard, Godofredo Pepey commands respect for his intricate fighting style, as well as for his charisma and friendly nature outside of the ring.

“He treats everyone the same. He greets everybody, talks to everyone, is always friendly. He never goes out at night. His thing is training and teaching his students, who happen to be winning most of the Jiu-Jitsu tournaments here in Ceará,” explained the black belt Claudio Oliveira, Pepey’s brothers and one of the first people to encourage him.

Pepey now holds black belts in Jiu-Jitsu and Thai boxing (in Brazil there are belts for Thai boxing), has amassed 11 MMA wins—three of them in the TUF house. “He’s living out a dream. It is all he ever wanted. He deserves everything he’s going through; he’s a hard worker,” added the finalist’s brother.

If you believe in yourself, soon others will too.

“He’s never been in an IBJJF World Championship because he lacked sponsorship. However, here in the Northeast he’s a seven-time North/Northeastern champion and two-time Ceará State champion. He never gave up on his dream of making a living through fighting,” said the brother, underscoring the biggest lesson of Pepey’s career: always believe in yourself, otherwise no one else will.

“In Jiu-Jitsu here in the state, his biggest rivalries on the mat were with Caio Magalhães [now in the UFC], Helio Mourão and Thiago Goiabeira,” he further elaborated.

“He started training under me, after that he went to Ricardo Holanda. He also trained with Manoel Soares, William Couto, Carlos David, and for the last five years he’s been training with Marcio Guilherme ‘Cupim’ at MG team,” Claudio added.

The Ceará native with brown eyes and naturally black hair (when he doesn’t die it orange) is a black belt Jiu-Jitsu newcomer generating the biggest buzz on TV. In his hometown he is affectionately approached when at the bakery and on the street. Last Monday morning, having his customary coffee, the last mystery cleared the air. Why the nickname “Pepey”?

“My sisters nicknamed him Pepey. He was a pesky kid. They just started calling him Pepey, Pepey out of the blue, and it stuck,” recalled the brother.

At 1.80 meters and weighing 66 kg, Pepey awaits his opponent in the “TUF Brazil” final, to be determined between of the semifinal pitting Hugo Wolverine and favored-to-win Rony Jason—who Pepey happens to have already faced in the gi.

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