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Marcelo Nunes

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Marcelo Nunes is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt under Robert Drysdale and a representative of the Zenith JJ Academy, who worked extensively with Master Takeyoshi. Although a high-level athlete for over a decade, Nunes turned plenty of heads his way in the Masters Division of the sport after his brilliant performances in the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation (IBJJF) performances of 2018 and 2019 at the Masters World and Pan Championships. Marcelo Nunes also ran successful, albeit shorter, careers in mixed martial arts (MMA) and Muay Thai.

Marcelo Nunes Jiu-Jitsu

Full Name: Marcelo Florenço Nunes

Nickname: N/A

Lineage: Carlos Gracie > Helio Gracie > Rolls Gracie > Romero Cavalcanti > Leonardo Vieira > Robert Drysdale > Marcelo Nunes

Main Achievements:

  • 1st Place IBJJF Masters World Championship (2018)
  • 1st Place IBJJF Pan Championship (2019 Master 1)
  • 1st Place IBJJF American Nationals (2018** Master 1)
  • 1st Place FIVE Grappling Championship – Miami (2014)
  • 1st Place NAGA Championship (2012 / 2013 / 2014 / 2015)
  • 2nd Place IBJJF Masters World Championship (2019)

Main Achievements:

  • 1st Place CBJJE World Champion (2006 / 2007 blue)
  • 1st Place Marianas Open Championship (2010** brown)
  • 3rd Place CBJJ Brazilian Nationals (2004 juvenile)

* Absolute
** Weight and Absolute

Favorite Position/Technique: Pressure Passing

Weight Division: Pesadíssimo (100,50 kg / 222.0 lbs)

Team/Association: Zenith JJ

Marcelo Nunes Biography

Marcelo Nunes was born on December 21, 1988, in Itú, a city located in the Brazilian state of São Paulo.

The interest for martial arts started at the age of 10 when Marcelo was introduced to capoeira – the Brazilian art of kicking. Nunes practiced for 2 years but started losing interest after watching the early Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) events, where the sound grappling of Royce Gracie conquered all other combat styles on the canvas. Galvanized performances of the jiu-jitsu representative at the UFC tournament, young Marcelo started looking for more information about BJJ, finding it through a friend who was a blue belt at the time.

Encouraged by his friend’s depiction of jiu-jitsu, and the fact that his younger brother was already training with the gi, Marcelo abandoned capoeira to join the BJJ class of Mr. Takeyoshi, who had only just started a social project with local kids at his garage. Nunes was 12 years old at the time.

Master Takeyoshi was an instrumental figure in Marcelo’s early jiu-jitsu days for a number of reasons. Given that his parents could not afford Nunes’ tuition, Takeyoshi granted the young São Paulo native free tuition, while also providing strong emotional support.

The social project of Mr. Takeyoshi was totally self-supported, with the students being mostly non-paying members. Given the dire financial circumstances of the students, kimonos would often be shared in between rolls among training partners, but even though luxury was a foreign word, hard training was not. Most students at Takeyoshi’s gym were of the same age, and had the same ambitions, making each training session a hard-fought, grinding experience.

As a blue belt, Marcelo was already fully invested in the sport, competing in every event he could afford, and doing well. Given Nunes’ ambition and talent, Master Takeyoshi quickly understood that his academy was limiting Nunes’ potential, and for that reason he introduced Marcelo to Robert Drysdale, hoping that the American could help further develop his student. Although a foreigner, Drysdale had grown up in Itú and was the region’s most successful grappler. Robert did indeed accept to bring Nunes on board, taking the young student under his wing.

While training with Drysdale, Marcelo started representing the Brasa Academy – with whom Robert was affiliated at the time. Nunes would often travel with Roberto to São Paulo (city) to practice at the team’s headquarter alongside Leo Vieira, Demian Maia and many more of the grappling world’s super-stars. In 2007, however, coach Drysdale moved back to the United States, settling in Las Vegas, Nevada, while Marcelo continued to train in his hometown.

In 2010 Robert Drysdale invited Marcelo to reunite with him in America. Nunes left everything behind to come and work in the US at his Master’s academy there receiving his black belt in 2011.

While in the USA, Nunes made the most of his access to wrestling and Thai boxing training, taking the opportunity to enter the world of Muay Thai and mixed martial arts, going on to set a professional MMA record of 5-1 (W-L) and MT of 7-0.

A big advocate of jiu-jitsu as a team sport, Marcelo has often credited his success to Master Takeyoshi, Robert Drysdale and Zenith teammate Diego Castelo Branco.

Marcelo Nunes NAGA 2013

5050 Guard Instructional by Lachlan Giles

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