8 Most Controversial People in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

8 Most Controversial People in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu


BJJ is a fast growing sport and its community is very tight knit and passionate. Some leading figures of the BJJ community (athletes or instructors) have a huge following which means that getting their share of ‘haters’ comes with the territory. Very often the most successful ones have an equal amount of haters as they have fans. In some other cases when the person has a bad attitude, has immoral actions , the hate of the community can vastly overwhelm the support.

Most of the hate is not malicious. Sometimes it is even fun, (Brendan Schaub case for example) whereas in some other cases there is genuine hate (BJJ personalities who have abused others).

Here are the 8 most hated/controversial BJJ personalities in no particular order.

Brendan Schaub

schaub metamoris

Reason: ‘Schaubing’ against Roberto Cyborg at Metamoris.

Retired UFC fighter Brendan Schaub is a brown belt in BJJ under the Gracie Academy. He was heavily criticized by the BJJ community for running away in his Metamoris 2 bout against Roberto “Cyborg” Abreu last year. The match ended in a draw. This technique was jokingly known as ‘Schaubing’. In his interview with reporter Ariel Helwani, Brendan Schaub stated that not only did he have no regrets concerning his Metamoris match—he actually claimed that his ‘shutting down’ of Cyborg Abreu helped Jiu-Jitsu by bringing more exposure to the sport because of his presence. “It helped Jiu-Jitsu. Metamoris has never been that big.”

Erberth Santos



Reasons: Attitude, fighting during BJJ tournaments, switching teams 5 times.

Erberth Santos has the reputation of being the newest bad boy of Jiu-Jitsu. He has gotten this reputation from his arrogant attitude during various matches at brown and black belt where he walked off celebrating when the opponent was injured.

Last year, Erberth Santos was involved in an altercation during a Jiu-Jitsu competition. He threw elbows at Claudevan Martins durind CBJJE Mundials. Martins is much smaller and took him down with prompted this elbow from Erberth. Both were disqualified by the referee.

Last year, Erberth announced his departure from Guigo Jiu-Jitsu and he now trains under Team Ryan Gracie.
Since the beginning of his BJJ career, Erberth has trained under 5 teams: From white to purple belt, Erberth was under Pedro Freitas. As a purple belt, he moved to Rio de Janeiro and joined Equipe Marcio Rodrigues. He was kicked off the team for bad behaviour and joined Guigo in Sao Paulo. Guigo gave Erberth his brown and also spent some time training under Team Lloyd Irvin in the US.

Rorion Gracie


Reason: Historical manipulation, legal battles with Gracie family members.

Rorion Gracie is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu 9th degree red belt. He is the eldest son of Hélio Gracie. He is the co founder of the UFC. Rorion is widely recognized as the man responsible for introducing Gracie/Brazilian Jiu-jitsu to the United States and the world.

He is a controversial figure in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, especially in Brazil because of the way he manipulated Jiu-Jitsu history, making Helio Gracie seem like the creator of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu when in fact it was his older brother Carlos Gracie.

The book Carlos Gracie – The Creator of a Dynasty,which was published in Brazil only in Portuguese, was written by the daughter of the Carlos Gracie, Reila Gracie (Roger Gracie’s mother). The goal of the book was to show the other side of the story about the Gracie family. Up to now, Rorion’s side had told the World that Grandmaster Helio was the one who changed and improved Jiu-Jitsu by introducing leverage. The book created quite a controversy in Brazil in the BJJ community.

Reila Gracie stated:

When the UFC revealed to the world the technical efficiency of jiu-jitsu developed by the Gracies, Carlos was said to to be the guru and nutritionist of the family, thus eliminating his importance in the history of jiu-jitsu. Like him, other champions of my family were also virtually excluded: my brothers Rolls and Carlson, for example.
I could not bear this historical manipulation and saw that the only way to fix it would be doing thorough research and writing a book about the life of my father, revealing how it actually happened and the importance that each had in building this dynasty of Gracie fighters.

In 1999–2000 Rorion was involved with a legal dispute with his cousin Carley Gracie for trademark infringement. Rorion ultimately won his lawsuit and was awarded $108,000 in damages (along with $620,000 in attorney’s fees) from Carley for infringement of the triangle logo trademark. Both sides appealed, but Rorion’s appeal was dismissed. After Carley filed for bankruptcy protection so he would not have to pay the attorney’s fees and damages. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in Carley’s favor, affirmed his victory over the Gracie name and ordered the District Court Judge to cancel Rorion’s federal trademark registration.

Rener Gracie


Reason: Gracie University promoting belts online.

Rener Gracie, love him or hate him, you can’t deny that he’s a brilliant businessman. Rener Gracie together with his brother Ryron, is the creator of the controversial Gracie Online University. He is Rorion’s son and grandson of Grandmaster Helio Gracie.

Gracie University was launched after the death of Helio Gracie.

The online Jiu-Jitsu university follows the example of proper Universities which offer their courses online to students. It is a whole system that works from a distance, with lessons, reviews, tests and final exams. You used to be able to receive a “technical blue belt” in the mail after having demonstrated a set of basic techniques in front of a camera but because of widespread backlash, they removed that belt. The rest of the belts are given by an instructor in person.

Gracie University has more than 119,000 active students (source)in 196 countries offering tailored self-defense programs for men, women, and children. It is a multi million dollar business.

With the growth of Gracie University, the controversy over the belt system in Jiu-Jitsu continues. Many prominent members of the BJJ community have publicly criticised Gracie University: Rickson Gracie,Royce Gracie, Kron Gracie, Murilo Bustamante, Royler Gracie and recently Robert Drysdale who said that Rener was dragging Helio’s legacy in the mud.


Ryan Gracie 


Reason: General violent and antisocial behaviour.

Younger brother of Renzo, Ryan Gracie caused a lot of trouble, especially because of his fights in clubs, bars, restaurants and in competitions. He very fast made a lot of enemies in Brazil, even before getting famous. With so many confrontations he ended up making enemies even outside the rings such as Wallid Ismail, Jorge Pereira and Jorge Patino Macaco. No one was more disliked than Ryan for sure.

AND, there were also various attacks. The president of the Rio de Janeiro Jiujitsu league, Mauricio Lima said that he was attacked by Ryan Gracie because of a letter, published in a jiujitsu magazine (note from Carioca: O Tatame), where he accused Ryan’s father, Robson Gracie, of being prejudiced against homosexuals. Thanks to this letter, Mauricio was given a homage by the gay magazine SUI GENERIS. But, according to Mauricio, that got Ryan really mad..

“I criticized his father, and Robson did not retaliate. I don’t get it. At the night club, Ryan said I was bad mouthing his dad and punched me in the chin. I didn’t fight back.” – said Mauricio Lima.

After learning about what Mauricio said to the police, Ryan said, Ironically:

“Saddam (Mauricio’s nickname) is an amoeba, and idiot. I never said anything about gays. Only thing is, during my TV show (Ring Heroes), we joked, when a guest of the show said that Mark Kerr looked a little feminine. I have nothing against gays. Saddam, for example, has a candid, delicate soul. Now, if he is gay or not is not my business. Personally, I think homosexualism is an ugly thing, two hairy men touching each other, . . ugh. Now, two women having sex is ok!.

The last problematic story he was involved in, happened in 2007 when he robbed a person in a car and later on a motorcycle. After being arrested he was diagnosed as being in shock and under the effect of drugs. He was wrongly medicated by a psychiatrist and found dead the next day inside his cell. The doctor was convicted afterwards.


Eddie Bravo


Reason: Promoting Marijuana, building his reputation on his first victory over Royler Gracie (before Metamoris rematch), views on Gi Jiu-Jitsu.

Eddie Bravo is a third degree BJJ black belt under Jean-Jacques Machado of the Machado family lineage. He is most famous for his win against Royler Gracie by triangle choke in the 2003 Abu Dhabi Submission Wrestling championships while still only a brown belt. After the win, Bravo started his academy 10th planet Jiu-Jitsu and built his empire around that win. Many members of the BJJ community felt that Bravo had a lucky win against Royler Gracie, as he had been completely dominated by Leo Vieira in his next ADCC match.

Much of the critics were put to rest 10 years later, when Bravo had a highly anticipated rematch against Royler Gracie on March 29, 2014 at Metamoris III in a submission only jiu-jitsu competition format. The match ended as a draw after the 20 minutes ran out due to the no points rule. Despite the official result of a draw, many media outlets praised Bravo’s use of constant pressure, sweeps, and submission attempts in controlling the match and almost ending it at the end with a combination calf slicer and toe lock that Bravo calls the “Vaporizer.” While there was some controversy after the match (Royce Gracie confronting Bravo),the match was lauded for its action with some calling it an early candidate for match of the year.

Bravo’s style consists solely of no-gi jiu-jitsu.Bravo has repeatedly questioned the validity of the traditional approach to teaching jiu-jitsu with the gi for people who are primarily interested in mixed martial arts since it is illegal to wear a gi in most MMA organizations leaving fighters looking for sleeves or collars to improve their position when there are none. Some critics condemn the unusual names that Bravo gives moves: The Zombie (a technique for trapping an opponent’s hand on the mat), Crackhead Control (a technique for preventing opponents from standing up to escape rubber guard), and The Electric Chair (a submission from Lockdown, a modified half guard that Bravo favors, that stretches the opponent’s groin muscles).

Bravo has advocated marijuana as performance enhancing drug in several interviews and attributed his ability to develop his creative style of jiu-jitsu to his own marijuana use. He has heavily criticised for his drug views, notably by members of the Gracie family.


Ralek Gracie


Reason: G in a Gi Music video , unprofessional way managing Metamoris, debts towards Metamoris competitors.

Ralek Gracie, son of Rorion,  is the founder of The professional grappling promotion, Metamoris, and the way he has run the organisation has provoked a huge backlash from a large majority of the BJJ community.

The main issues are:

-Scheduling events on the same weekend as EBI and the same day as Copa Podio.
-Disrespecting Female Competitors.
-Untrustworthy Online Site and Automatic Renewals.
-Not paying Metamoris Challenger/Underground Competitors, and staff.

The community continues to openly make fun of him through various memes and videos.


Lloyd Irvin



Reasons: Cult allegations controversy

Lloyd Irvin Jr. is a BJJ black belt and competitor, with wins in events such as the World No-Gi Championship. Lloyd Irvin is the head coach of the eponymous Team Lloyd Irvin, a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and mixed martial arts organization operating in the Mid-Atlantic States of the U.S. A number of prominent grapplers and MMA fighters have attended his school at one time, such as Mike Fowler, JT Torres, and Ryan Hall.

Following an incident between three of his students on 1 Jan 2013 Irvin received a lot of negative publicity in the mixed martial arts press. Several of his best students decided to leave, and Irvin disbanded his affiliate program, citing the “lynch mob” mentality of his attackers. An  article on the controversy with accounts from former Irvin associates and students claimed Irvin’s students were training in a cult like environment.

Postscript (Added after the article was published)

-Rousimar Palhares (Holding on to submissions, general weird behaviour).

– Cameron Earle (serving life sentence for multiple cases of rape)

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