Gabriel Vella is one of Jiu Jitsu’s elite competitors today. This Ryan Gracie black belt was part of the first successful BJJ generation to have come out of Sao Paulo – Brazil, when the sport was dominated by their Rio de Janeiro counterparts. Gabriel Vella has been linked with a few different Jiu Jitsu academies: Ryan Gracie Academy, Alliance and now the brand new Gracie Elite team
Gabriel Vella in Detail
Full Name: Gabriel Vella de Freitas
- 2x World Champion (2009, 2002);
- 4x Pan American Champion (2010, 2004, 2000 – brown belt division, 1998 – purple belt division);
- World Nogi Champion (2008);
- Brazilian National Champion (1998 – purple belt division);
- World Pro Cup Champion (2010)
Weight Category: Pesadíssimo (Over 221lbs)
Favourite Position/Technique: Choke from the back
Team/Association: Gracie Elite/Ryan Gracie
Gabriel Vella Biography
Gabriel Vella de Freitas was born on the 30th of April 1981 in Sao Paulo. Gabriel came from a sporting family (his father Luiz Otavio Batista de Freitas was a South American Swimming Champion) and it did not come as a surprise that him and his brother Thiago were sports fanatics as well from an early age, practicing several sports such as Water Polo, Team Handball, Football (soccer), Karate and Judo.
When Gabriel was 14 years old he found Jiu Jitsu (BJJ). He was training Judo at the time while his brother had started training BJJ at Ryan Gracie’s gym in Sao Paulo (the Gracie’s first in that state). Gabriel came over to check his brother’s (Thiago) training. Ryan saw the young Vella standing at the side of the mat and invited him to train. Gabriel took the invite and liked the training so much he joined the gym.
Gabriel and his brother were hooked to BJJ from the get go, they started training two times per day and were terrorizing the lower belt divisions by 1997 with their aggressive style always looking for the finish. This success did not pass unnoticed by the media who soon started requesting interviews with the wiz kid from Sao Paulo. At the time Sao Paulo had very few fighters that got close to competing with the elite of Rio de Janeiro, the exceptions were Godoi and Patino “Macaco”, but this new breed of fighters led by the Vella brothers would bring a little of the attention to Sao Paulo.
In 2000 after sweeping pretty much every important trophy there was to win in the lower belt divisions, Gabriel Vella was awarded his Black Belt from the hands of Ryan Gracie. In 2003 after winning the World Title in 2002 he decided to test BJJ’s efficiency by shifting to MMA. Straight off the bat he found himself competing with Yuki Kondo, the king of pancrase, a fight that ended in a draw.
Gabriel Vella spent the new few years away from the main stream competitive Jiu Jitsu. having difficulties in finding the drive to fight at the Ryan Gracie academy. He ended taking drastic measures to ensure the progression of his BJJ career by shifting to their Sao Paulo rivals, the Alliance, who at the time had a more professional team that provided a coverage impossible to obtain at the Gracie Academy. Though criticized by the BJJ community he left and found his competitive edge again winning the Nogi World tournament and reaching the finals of many important tournaments. Though Gabriel Vella found success at Alliance, his ideas clashed with those of the Alliance management and so he left, coming back to the RG academy, now led by Celso Vinicius after the death of Ryan Gracie.
Back to his old roots, Gracie continued to progress in his BJJ career, winning the World Championship, the Pan American and the World Pro Cup tournament.
Gabriel Vella vs Tererê