Leo Vieira (Checkmat)

Leonardo Vieira is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt under Romero Cavalcanti, being famous for combining one of the most eye pleasing games in BJJ with an amazing track record. Leo Vieira was also the co-founder of important teams such as Brasa and Checkmat, and he became one of BJJ’s most important coaches having helped athletes such as Lucas Leite, João Assis and many others. He is also mentioned in the Top 10 BJJ Competitors athletes of All Time.

Leo Vieira Jiu Jitsu

Full Name: Leonardo Alcantara Vieira

Nickname: “Leozinho” which means little Leonardo, or just Leo.

Lineage: Mitsuyo Maeda > Carlos Gracie > Helio Gracie > Rolls Gracie > Romero Cavalcanti > Leonardo Vieira

Main Achievements:

  • 2x ADCC Champion (2003, 2005)
  • 2x World Champion (1996 brown, 1999)
  • 2x Pan American Champion (2002, 2004)
  • Brazilian National Champion (1998)
  • 2x ADCC Silver Medallist (2011, 2007)
  • World Silver Medallist (1997)
  • World Bronze Medallist (2000)

Weight Division: Peso Leve & Pena (76Kg/167lbs & 70kg/154lbs)

Favourite Position/Technique: Guard Passing.

Association/Team: Checkmat.

Important DVD Releases: Extreme Jiu Jitsu.

Leozinho Vieira Biography

Leonardo Vieira was born on the 23rd of March 1976, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He is the eldest of 3 brothers, all of them accomplished BJJ Black Belts (Ricardo Vieira and Leandro Vieira). Leonardo or “Leo” as he is called amongst the Jiu Jitsu community started training when he was just 6 years of age at the “Academia Romero Jacare” with the legendary BJJ coach Romero Cavalcanti.

In 1993 his Master Cavalcanti merged the “Romero Jacare” team with some of his former students and formed “Team Alliance”, Leo competed for this new team for many years, receiving his Black Belt under the Alliance banner when he was 21 years old, by the hands of his master, after winning the historic first World Championships event ever as a Brown Belt (1996), in a final fought against Mauricio Mariano from Gracie Barra.

The following year, his first as a Black Belt, Leo fought his way to the final against Marcio Feitosa in the first of many historical duels between the two. This first fight went to the Gracie Barra fighter, Feitosa, but in 1998 when the two met once again in the final, Leonardo was the victor in one of the hardest fights of the event. 1998 was the last time Leonardo won the World Championship, although he did make the final again in 1999 (losing to Royler Gracie) and placed 3rd in 2000.

His Career’s highest point had not been reached however, that came in 2003 as Leonardo won the World’s most prestigious Submission Grappling medal, the ADCC (Abu Dhabi Combat Club), a gold medal achieved again in 2005.

In between this period, Leozinho had moved to Sao Paulo and was training under Fabio Gurgel at the Team Alliance HQ there, but in 2002 there was a small rebellion against the head coach Gurgel and Leonardo left the team together with most of the black belts that trained there. The argument was over the “Mundial” (World Championships) which occurred a week after the “Copa do Mundo” (World Cup). As the “Copa do Mundo” offered a good prize money to its competitors and the “Mundial” didn’t, Leonardo and his team mates felt they should support this organization (CBJJO – Confederação de Jiu Jitsu Olimpico) and compete in it, Gurgel however decided against it, as he felt that competing in the Cup was less prestigious then competing in the World Championship. The fighters went on to fight at the “Copa” and Gurgel banned them from the gym, and so Leozinho and the others formed another team, “Master Team” after a few problems with that team also, another team was formed, which was called “Brasa” (which is slang for “Brazil” but also means “Ember”).

The Brasa Team went on for years and still exists today, but in 2008 Leo and his brothers decided to open another team in which they had more autonomy, this team they called Checkmat.

In 2011 Leozinho came back from retirement after an invitation was made for him to compete at the ADCC once again, this time one weight category up (77kg) in what was one of the most stacked divisions in the tournament. Many did not give Leo Vieira a chance, labeling him to old to be competitive, but the veteran raised a few eyebrows once again in the 7th ADCC of his career by defeating the cream of the crop of the new generation and placing 2nd in the competition.

Leo Vieira Record at World Championship Finals

Year Weight Belt Oponent Result
1999 Pena Black Royler Gracie Loss
1998 Leve Black Marcio Feitosa Win
1997 Leve Black Marcio Feitosa Loss
1996 Pena Brown Mauricio Mariano Win

Leo Vieira Record at Pan Am Finals

Year Weight Belt Oponent Result
2004 Pena Black Fredson Alves Win
2002 Pena Black Fredson Alves Win

Leo Vieira Record at Brazilian National Finals

Year Weight Belt Oponent Result
2001 Leve Black Marcio Feitosa Loss
1998 Medio Black Paulo Guilhobel Win

Leo Vieira Record at the ADCC 2011

Stage Weight Oponent Result
1st Round Under 77kg Enricco Coco Win (Points: 6×0)
1/4 Finals Under 77kg JT Torres Win (Points: 2×0)
Semi Finals Under 77kg Claudio Calasans Win (Points: 3×0)
Final Under 77kg Marcelo Garcia Loss (Submission: Triangle)

Leo Vieira Video Highlight

Leo Vieira vs Yuki Nakai

Leo Vieira vs Renato Verissimo “Charuto”

This post is also available in: Portuguese (Brazil)

Comments (3)

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  1. Benjie says:

    On the fighter list you have Leo as Nova Uniao.

  2. bjjheroes says:

    Hi Benjie, thanks for letting me know! it was a mistake, of course. I am surprised no one ever noticed that until today! :D

  3. Benjie says:

    Your welcome. Leo is my BJJ hero. I want to take the time to thank you for such a great site. Would like to see our teacher & mentor added, Fabio Santos ( Thank you & keep up the great work. If it's ok with you guys I will be adding a link from our site ( to this site.