It’s a dark day for the BJJ community, as veteran competitor Orlando Sanchez is dead at the age of 40. Sanchez was often regarded as a polarizing figure but he was also a fantastic addition to every ADCC tournament, and he passed away on the night of December 15th. He represented Gracie Barra throughout his entire career and in recent years, he even branched out to open his own academy under the affiliation too. Sanchez had always been open about his struggles with mental health issues and substance abuse in the past, explaining that he fell deep into the partying world after college and at the age of 26, had gotten all the way up to 260lbs.
That’s when Sanchez decided to turn his life around, and he often credited Jiu-Jitsu with being the thing that allowed him to do so. Within three years of finding Jiu-Jitsu, Sanchez had reached brown belt in the sport thanks to his natural affinity for grappling. It was a well-deserved promotion as well, as Sanchez had won the IBJJF world championships as a blue belt along with Pans and Brazilian Nationals at brown. This was when he stepped into the forefront of the grappling by competing in the over 99kg division of the ADCC world championships in 2013.
Since then, Sanchez has competed at a total of five different ADCC world championship events all the way up to an opening round appearance in 2022. His crowning achievement came in 2015 when he won gold in that division, although he did manage to reach the podium once again in 2017 when he took a silver medal home. Sanchez was known as an outspoken advocate for mental health and the value of family, in his case a wife and three children
The news that Orlando Sanchez was dead at the age of 40 was announced by an initial report on the official Instagram account of FloGrappling, and the thoughts of the whole of the BJJ community are with his family at this time.