A jiu-jitsu black-belt and sitting master world champion, Felipe “Ninja” Pinto is not only a teacher and athlete. Away from the mats, he is also an event organizer working to elevate BJJ as a professional sport. On this mission for more than four years now, Ninja leads Velox Fight League, a superfight-based promotion headquartered in Kansas.
In its third edition, held two weeks ago for 200 spectators, VFL gathered 46 athletes of different weights, ranging from yellow-belts to black-belts, for matches lasting up to ten minutes each. The headliner was Brian Stubner vs. Bryan Ramirez, a fight mired in expectations due to the fighters’ rivalry, as explained by Ninja Pinto in a recent interview:
“They did the main fight of Velox Fight League 3, and had a good one. Despite their quarrel at the end of the fight, it was all very well controlled by our team. Brian, who was the winner, celebrated, and his opponent felt offended because of that. But nothing out of the ordinary.”
“Also noteworthy was the duel between Jesse Coop and Teven Chavez, which ended 10-11 with Teven nabbing the win,” Ninja added. “Nicholas Sbravatti and Gonzales also engaged in a war where Sbravatti emerged victorious in the first jiu-jitsu fight of his career.”
A proud Ninja went on to provide details on how the event was organized, saying he seeks to give back everything that jiu-jitsu has given him. “For this third edition, we from the organization brought qualified referees who have undergone CBJJ courses,” he said, “as well as offering a warmup room with isotonic drinks, water, cereal bars for all the athletes on the card. We produced content for our athletes on our social networks too, to give them more visibility.”
“It’s very important to value the athlete,” Ninja added; “this motivates people to compete even more. I myself had six athletes competing for the first time in their lives.”
As to what the path may be for elevating jiu-jitsu as a whole, Ninja said, “I believe paying athletes would be a good start Best of all would be visibility. If the athletes got more exposure in sports media, their chance of getting a sponsorship would be greater.”