Who is ‘TUF Brazil Finalist’ Sergio Moreas?
Words by Riccardo Ammendolia
Before Sergio Moraes got on the UFC roster and before his Bellator debut a few years back, Moraes was one of jiu-jitsu’s greatest rising stars. Why and how, you ask? Well, let me tell you a story.
Back in 2008, I was in Long Beach, Calif., watching the World Jiu-Jitsu Championship, or Mundials as the grapplers call them. This is where the best of the best came to compete, or could at least afford a plane ticket and registration to compete, but that’s another article. The World Championship title is what every jiu-jitsu competitor one day dreams of having, and attaining this at the black belt level is one of the hardest things to accomplish. Not only are you facing some of the most skilled competitors in your division, but depending on what division it is, you have to fight five or six times, maybe more.
In the black belt division, matches are 10 minutes in length unless someone is submitted. So, a competitor could potentially spend over an hour of competing. It might not sound so long, but the average non-jiu-jitsu trained person gasses after rolling for three minutes. So anyways, back to the story...
At the time of this tournament, I was in town watching the Worlds as I love to do. To see new talent, to learn new techniques and to be a part of jiu-jitsu history. But on the black belt day, I was asked to keep my eye on one competitor: Sergio Moraes.
Sergio came from Sao Paolo, Brazil, and he was on the powerhouse Alliance team. A former member of TT jiu-jitsu, Sergio, or Serginho, was also known for having an acrobatic capoeira background, which transcended into his matches. On this occasion, one of the coaches of Alliance told me to keep my eye on him as he wanted to compete in MMA abroad after having already started his career in Brazil. So I messaged a friend of mine who was managing Brazilian fighters to come and check Serginho out. His first match… Kron Gracie!
For those who don’t know, Kron is the son of Rickson Gracie, who amongst the jiu-jitsu community, is regarded as the greatest of all time. Kron was not just Rickson's son, but had an amazing career competing in jiu-jitsu, especially in the brown belt division. But this was his first match at black belt, and the world was waiting to see how he would stack up against the Marcelo Garcias or Lucas Leites that would potentially be in his division. But little did the jiu-jitsu world know that Sergio had other plans. Although he wasn’t as well known as the above, he made himself known after this match.
Before getting to the details of the match, you have to understand that Sergio came from a very poor family in Brazil. In Brazil, jiu-jitsu and MMA to some people is not a hobby, but the only option they have for a better life. Many people say that when you are born in the favela (slum where Sergio lived), you normally ended up dying there. But Sergio came to the U.S. for one reason, and that was to not only win, so that he could potentially get sponsorships, but to make a name for himself so that his life would be forever changed. And so he did just that.
When Kron and Sergio began to compete, the whole stadium stopped to watch Rickson Gracie’s son potentially assault this unknown Alliance fighter. But Sergio shocked the world in a match that will go down in BJJ history.
Sergio started off with his patented fake guard pull to a single-leg takedown. And he didn’t just take Kron down, he slammed him to the mats to the shock of the crowd.
From that point on, it was all Moraes, constantly attacking Gracie with passes, controls and aggressiveness. He had the whole arena's mouth drop. In the end, Sergio submitted Kron with an ezekial choke and carved out his name in the books of Mundial history.
Not only did he submit Rickson's son, but from that moment on, all of his competitors afterwards seemed like nothing as Sergio submitted almost all and tore through the competition, and ended up winning the division, all the while with a giant smile on his face. This was the beginning of the legacy of Sergio Moraes.
From this tournament on, the little known Moraes repeated as World and European champion, then went to continue his MMA career in Bellator and Jungle Fight. Most recently, Sergio was a contestant on TUF Brazil. In his preliminary match, he executed the first-ever leglock from the 50/50 position, a move that had Wanderlei Silva confused.
Sergio was praised as a jiu-jitsu master and competitor and even made it to the semifinals, but he was eventually knocked out by Daniel Sarafian. Despite the knockout, Sergio stayed on training with Wanderlei Silva's team and formed an alliance with the Evolucao Thai team where he became the new head jiu-jitsu coach.
If you watched the UFC on FOX with Shogun-Vera, you might have recalled seeing Sergio, with a huge smile on his face on top of the cage, just enjoying the moment. I’m sure he thought about all the times he had no money or food in Brazil, but just enough energy in him to train. Although this wasn’t a main event, it was the first time Serginho got to see a huge UFC audience outside of Brazil and he loved every second of it.
On Saturday, October 13, Serginho will make his UFC return against fellow Brazilian Renee Forte. The stakes are now higher than ever. Sergio is once again fighting with all eyes on him because if he loses this, he could be out of the UFC. But if history repeats itself, do not count this Brazilian Rocky Balboa out, and maybe…just maybe, we will see another historic finish from Serginho!
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