Prior to the late 1990s, BJJ tournaments were pretty thin on the ground and those early Jiu-Jitsu athletes like Rigan Machado had to find any competitive grappling event they possibly could which often led to interesting matches between them and Judo black belts, Sambo players, and wrestlers. The Machado brothers and the earlier members of the Gracie family all had to do this in order to stay active and continually test their grappling ability in high-pressure situations. Footage also exists of Rickson Gracie competing in Sambo tournaments in the early 90s, also managing to submit his opponents at the time.
Some of the earliest footage of Rickson Gracie and Rigan Machado in a grappling competition is actually a match between them that took place in 1986. A short time later at some point between 1990 and 1994, Rigan Machado decided to compete in at least one Judo tournament at West Covina Dojo and footage exists of him submitting several Judo black belts under their own ruleset. The first two that he comes up against don’t last long at all as he manages to finish both of them with armbars in less than thirty seconds each. The third match collected in the footage is significantly longer and although Machado initially starts off by attacking an armbar again, his opponent manages to defend well and force a referee stand-up.
As this match features more time spent standing, it becomes readily apparent that Machado is actually on pretty equal footing with the Judoka there. Once the pair hit the ground, the skill difference becomes obvious again as Machado takes his opponent’s back and submits him with a tight lapel choke. The fourth and final match sees him back in fine form again as he locks up another armbar just a blink of an eye after the thirty second mark.
The footage of Rigan Machado competing against and submitting four Judo black belts was uploaded to the official YouTube channel of Jiu Jitsu World:
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