Through the years many cases of self promoted jiu jiteiros were outed. While some excused themselves saying it was japanese jiu jitsu, a discipline they made out some outright owned it.
Chael Sonnen was one of the most intimidating wrestlers of all time in the Octagon. He also started training Jiu-Jitsu under Fabiano Scherner and ended up getting his black belt in 2019. As it turns out, before he officially started training Jiu-Jitsu, Sonnen was going around saying that he was in fact a black belt in JIu-Jitsu?!
There’s a confirmation from the source himself.
Sonnen told the story on his podcast.
I was going up to Utah and training grappling with Olympic gold medalist Mark Schultz who had himself been training with BJJ coral belt Pedro Sauer. He told me that although Sauer hadn’t promoted to black belt in BJJ, he was still going around saying that he was a black belt… Schultz told Sonnen: “If you can hang with black belts, then you are a black belt…”
- Sauer would end up officialy promoting Schultz to black belt many years later:
Schultz started training Jiu-Jitsu under Pedro Sauer in the early 90’s. Art Davie (Ufc cofounder) in an interview mentions watching the tape of Schultz and Rickson Gracie rolling:
“I had seen a 30 minute tape that Rorion had of Rickson rolling with Mark Schultz, the Olympic gold medalist over at Pedro Sauer’s academy in Salt Lake City. It took Rickson Gracie 30 minutes to get Mark’s arm. Schultz weighed 182 lbs, about the same as Rickson.”
Schultz way of thinking, gave Sonnen ideas. He went back to his home in Oregon and would go to BJJ/MMA gyms telling BJJ practitioners that he was a black belt. He obviously wasn’t although he had wrestled his whole life but back then had no idea about how to grapple using submissions.
Ben Askren also did the same:
It was only after he rolled with a bjj purple belt in the Gi and got tapped repeatidely that he understood that he really wasn’t a bjj black belt but more like a white belt…
He tells the funny story from 3:38min: