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Gustavo Dantas is a former World Jiu Jitsu Champion from the famous Nova Uniao BJJ team in Rio de Janeiro – Brazil. Gustavo Dantas moved to the US in 1998 to teach at the John Lewis’s academy in Las Vegas though today he resides in Arizona sharing his time between running a very successful BJJ school and being the Vice-President of the Arizona State Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation (AZSBJJF).

Gustavo Dantas in Detail


Full Name: Gustavo Henrique Lourenco Dantas

Lineage: Mitsuyo Maeda > Carlos Gracie > Carlson Gracie > Andre Pederneiras > Gustavo Dantas

Main Titles and Achievements:

  • 2010 Vegas Int. Open Champion (Black/Master) NV, USA;
  • 2010 International Master & Senior Champion (Black/Senior 1/Feather);
  • 2009 Rickson Gracie International Champion (Black/Adult/Light) Tokyo, Japan;
  • 2008 Brazilian National Champion (Black/Light/Master) RJ, Brazil;
  • 2002 World Cup – 3rd place (Black/Ultra Heavy/Adult) RJ, Brazil;
  • 1998 Rio de Janeiro State champion (Brown/Feather/Adult) RJ, Brazil;
  • 1997 & 98 World champion (Purple & Brown/Feather/Adult) RJ, Brazil;
  • 1997 Campeonato Brasileiro por Equipes Champion (Purple/Light/Adult) RJ, Brazil;
  • 1996 World Championships – 3rd place (Purple/Light/Adult) RJ, Brazil

Weight Category: Pena and Leve (Featherweight and Lightweight) 70kg-154lbs or 76kg-167.5lbs.

Favourite Technique: Triangle

Team/Association: Nova Uniao

Gustavo Dantas Biography

Gustavo Dantas was born on the 23rd of December 1974 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He first started to train Jiu-Jitsu when he was 14 yrs old in a very small school in Vila Isabel, RJ – with an instructor called Jair Couto. He trained Judo at the time, while his brother trained train Jiu-jitsu. One day Gustavo’s brother convinced him to try a BJJ class and that was that, Gustavo immediately fell in love with BJJ.

Even though Gustavo Dantas was still in his teens, he realized straight away that he wanted to become a BJJ instructor and be involved with Jiu-Jitsu for the rest of his life. The school where he trained focused a lot on Self Defense, but Gustavo was more interested in competition, so, after two years training with Jair Couto he decided to move to a more sports orientated school where one of Ricardo De La Riva‘s Black Belts, Fernando Cruz, taught. Under Cruz’s guidance Dantas’s Jiu Jitsu grew managing a very hard 3rd place and subsequent bronze medal at the 1st World BJJ Championship in 1996 in the Purple Belt division.

Dantas’s career under Fernando Cruz’s tutelage seemed to be well underway, but sadly, six months after the Worlds, Fernando stopped teaching due to personal problems. Gustavo found himself without a teacher, but that didn’t happen for long as he soon started to train under André Pederneiras (the co-founder of Nova Uniao), who awarded Gustavo Dantas his brown belt, followed by his black belt in December 1998.

Gustavo Dantas was part of the golden generation of Nova Uniao fighters, considered by many as the best lightweights team to have ever competed, a team that consisted of fighters like Vitor “Shaolin”, Robson Moura, Renato “Charuto” Verissimo, Leo Santos, Rodrigo “Feijao” just to name a few.

Gustavo started his career as an instructor in his old Vila Isabel back in 1995, but in 1998 he left to travel to the U.S. for the first time and compete at the Joe Moreira International Championship in Irvine, California together with his master André Pederneiras. André won his Super Fight, while Gustavo won the Brown Belt/Feather & Open Class. Four months later, He moved to Las Vegas to teach at John Lewis’s School (the very 1st Nova Uniao School in the U.S.), after receiving his Black Belt and Bachelor’s degree in Physical Education.

He decided to move to Arizona in October 2000. 6 months previous to the definitive move he had joined AZ Combat Sports, it was a Kickboxing gym headed by Trevor Lally. Gustavo had met Trevor’s twin brother, Todd, in Las Vegas and Todd had set up a seminar for Dantas at the gym. After that, they decided to join forces and include a BJJ program in the gym. AZ Combat Sports has been Gustavo’s turf ever since.

Since moving to the U.S., Gustavo decided to focus on teaching and working, he had several different jobs such as: Construction, Painting, Gardening, Bouncing amongst others, basically whatever he could do to do to pay the bills, as he had a wife (at the time) and child to support. He did try to keep active and compete on occasion, but it wasn’t his priority. To make matters worst he also struggled with two surgeries and some other hard injuries that kept Gustavo away from the mats for a while. He did manage to make his debut in the world of MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) holding an undefeated record of (2-0-0), also competing at the Abu Dhabi (ADCC) in 2001 & 2003. In 2010 he returned to competition, his students love for competition brought him to give the old mats another go.

Until September 2010 (time in which this article was written) Gustavo Dantas had promoted six Black Belts: Bob Merriman, Brian Mitchell, Chris Lopez, Gary Matsch, Steve Judson and Steve Rosenberg, while also having 11 Mundial Medalists under his tuition.

Always passionate about his ultimate goal of promoting Jiu-Jitsu, he became the Vice-President of the Arizona State Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation (AZSBJJF) bolstering tournaments in AZ for the past nine years. While a small group of about 45 competitors made it in his first Arizona tournament, his last, the 2010 AZ BJJ State Championship, had over 500 which serves as testament to a job well done by Mr Dantas.

For more info about Gustavo Dantas, please visit, or for more info on the BJJ Scene in Arizona.

Gustavo Dantas Highlight


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