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Rafael Mendes
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Rafael Mendes

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Guard Passing Instructional by Lucas Lepri

Rafael Mendes, also known as “Rafa” Mendes, is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) black belt world champion under the illustrious coach Ramon Lemos. Considered a grappling “phenom” since his late teens and acclaimed as “The King of the Featherweight Division” by many grappling enthusiasts, Rafael was also one of the competitors who brought recognition to the 50-50 guard and the berimbolo, positions he used to de-throne the former 4x world champion Rubens Charles. Rafael Mendes is also the brother of another Jiu-Jitsu World Champion – Guilherme Mendes. On the 31st of May 2015, at the 20th World Jiu Jitsu Championship, Rafael Mendes broke the record of featherweight world titles set by Royler Gracie in 1999, with his 5th win at black belt. He increased his world title tally to 6 the following year.

Rafael Mendes Jiu Jitsu

Rafael Mendes: Rafael Mendes Godoy

Nickname: “Rafa” which is short for Rafael.

Lineage: Mitsuyo Maeda > Carlos Gracie > Carlson Gracie > Andre Pederneiras > Ramon Lemos > Rafael Mendes

Main Achievements:

  • 1st Place IBJJF World Championship (2010 / 2011 / 2012 / 2014 / 2015 / 2016)
  • 1st Place ADCC World Championship (2009, 2011)
  • 1st Place IBJJF Pans Championship (2012, 2011)
  • 1st Place IBJJF European Open (2014, 2010, 2009)
  • 1st Place UAEJJF Abu Dhabi Pro (2010, 2009)
  • 1st Place CBJJ Brazilian Nationals (2010)
  • 2nd Place IBJJF World Championship (2013)
  • 2nd Place ADCC World Championship (2013)
  • 2nd Place UAEJJF Abu Dhabi Pro (2011)

Favorite technique: Leg-Drag Guad Pass, Berimbolo & 50-50 Guard

Weight Division: Peso Pena (70,00 kg / 154.5 lbs)

Affiliation/Team: Atos Jiu Jitsu.

Rafael Mendes Biography

Rafael was born on the 20th of June, 1989 in Rio Claro, a city in the state of Sao Paulo, Brazil. Rafael and Guilherme Mendes, his brother, started their jiu-jitsu training through an older cousin named Thiago Mendes, who was a purple belt under Leonardo Santos. After only a few months of training, cousin Thiago recognized the potential both Mendes had and took them to train at the academy headquarters with his coach, Santos.

The team was led by both Leonardo and Ramon Lemos – the man who would later become Atos’ team leader. Being just 13 years old, but already incredibly gifted Rafael and his brother picked up all the techniques with amazing ease and started dedicating themselves to BJJ almost full time, training at least two times per day.

It was also around this time that the Mendes’s parents split, leaving both brothers without a fatherly figure on a daily basis. Guilherme and Rafael have reported to the media on several occasions of how their coach Ramon Lemos filled most of that void, teaching them not only grappling but the moral values with which they built their characters.

At the age of 17, having never competed in a no-gi (no-kimono) competition before, Ramon Lemos enrolled the purple belt Rafael in the ADCC Brazilian Trials, one of the hardest submission-wrestling events in the country. Rafael made it to the final of the trials losing in a hard match against Bruno Frazatto (who would later become his friend and teammate at Atos).

Rafael was an amazing BJJ student winning all World Championships from blue belt all the way to brown in consecutive years, achieving the bronze medal in his first year as a black belt (2009) and winning his first world gold medal as a black belt in 2010.

Ramon Lemos awarded Rafael his black belt in late 2008, the young Mendes did not shy away from the task at hand, and almost immediately started paving his road with success. Rafael won the Jiu-Jitsu World Pro Abu Dhabi Cup, one of the top competitions in the world, winning a gold medal also at the ADCC finals.

After a truly remarkable career where he broke records and became widely recognized as the best grappler of his generation, Rafael Mendes chose to retire to focus on his family and his work as a coach at the Art of Jiu-Jitsu Academy in Costa Mesa, California. Mendes was still in his mid-20s when he made that decision, having not reached his full physical maturity.

Banner picture taken by Ross Finlayson.

Rafael Mendes Grappling Record

93 WINS
  • BY POINTS
    26 (28%)
  • BY ADVANTAGES
    5 (5%)
  • BY SUBMISSION
    59 (63%)
  • BY DECISION
    2 (2%)
  • BY PENALTIES
    1 (1%)
  • BY DQ
    0 (0%)

59 SUBMISSIONS WINS

#214eb8
Armbar
32
19
#86e620
Choke from back
22
13
#5AD3D1
Wristlock
7
4
#d1212a
RNC
7
4
#fad11b
Triangle armbar
5
3
#f58822
Choke
5
3
#224aba
Triangle
5
3
#ff9124
Brabo choke
5
3
#bf1f6c
Kimura
3
2
#22c9a5
Bow and arrow
3
2
#fad223
Inverted triangle
2
1
#03861f
Cross choke
2
1
#039a1f
Anaconda
2
1
59
(100%) SUBMISSIONS
7 LOSSES
  • BY POINTS
    1 (14%)
  • BY ADVANTAGES
    1 (14%)
  • BY SUBMISSION
    0 (0%)
  • BY DECISION
    4 (57%)
  • BY PENALTIES
    0 (0%)
  • BY DQ
    1 (14%)

0 SUBMISSION LOSSES

Rafael Mendes Fight History

ID Opponent W/L Method Competition Weight Stage Year
2064Rubens CharlesRubens CharlesLPointsCapital Challenge70KGF2008
2140Rubens CharlesRubens CharlesLDQPan American70KGSF2009
2315Rubens CharlesRubens CharlesLReferee DecisionWorld Champ.70KGSF2009
2889Augusto MendesAugusto MendesLReferee DecisionWorld Pro.65KGF2011
2930Rodolfo VieiraRodolfo VieiraLReferee DecisionWorld P. NoGiABSF2011
4761Augusto MendesAugusto MendesLPts: 2x2, AdvWorld Champ.70KGF2013
4962Rubens CharlesRubens CharlesLReferee DecisionADCC66KGF2013
5248Clark GracieClark GracieD---Metamoris 3ABSSPF2014
2061Michael ReynaWChokeCapital Challenge70KG4F2008
2063Mario ReisMario ReisWPointsCapital Challenge70KGSF2008
2084Katsuya ToidaWRNCDeep X IIINASPF2009
2117Van BaardewijkWTriangleWorld Pro.65KGR12009
2119Robson MouraRobson MouraWPointsWorld Pro.65KG4F2009
2122Renato TavaresRenato TavaresWPts: 6x0World Pro.65KGSF2009
2123Rubens CharlesRubens CharlesWPointsWorld Pro.65KGF2009
2136Rodrigo RanieriRodrigo RanieriWPts: 14x6Pan American70KG4F2009
2219Jayson PatinoWTriangleADCC66KGR12009
2223Justin RaderJustin RaderWAnacondaADCC66KG4F2009
2225Leonardo VieiraLeonardo VieiraWRNCADCC66KGSF2009
2227Rubens CharlesRubens CharlesWPointsADCC66KGF2009
2312Carlos LemosCarlos LemosWPts: 4x0World Champ.70KG4F2009
2471Wellington DiasWellington DiasWArmbarEuropean70KGSF2010
2472Renan BorgesWPts: 2x0European70KGF2010
2491Denilson PimentaDenilson PimentaWPts: 2x0WPC SD trials65KGSF2010
2499Denilson PimentaDenilson PimentaWChoke from backWPC Gr Trials65KGSF2010
2501Theodoro CanalTheodoro CanalWChoke from backWPC Gr Trials65KGF2010
2623Guilherme MendesGuilherme MendesWPts: 4x2World Pro.65KGF2010
2637Rubens CharlesRubens CharlesWPts: 4x2Brasileiro70KGF2010
2656Ryan HallRyan HallWPts: 5x2World Champ.70KGR12010
2657Gustavo CaprioWChoke from backWorld Champ.70KGR22010
2663Daisuke NakamuraDaisuke NakamuraWArmbarWorld Champ.70KG4F2010
2665Denilson PimentaDenilson PimentaWChoke from backWorld Champ.70KGSF2010
2666Rubens CharlesRubens CharlesWPts: 4x4, AdvWorld Champ.70KGF2010
2881Marcelino FreitasMarcelino FreitasWBrabo chokeWorld Pro.65KGR12011
2885Gustavo FalciroliWChoke from backWorld Pro.65KG4F2011
2887Bruno MalfacineBruno MalfacineWPts: 7x0World Pro.65KGSF2011
2929Gilmar OliveiraWPointsWorld P. NoGiABS4F2011
2991Daisuke NakamuraDaisuke NakamuraWChokeWorld Champ.70KGRDS2011
3003Justin RaderJustin RaderWChokeWorld Champ.70KGRDS2011
3088Leo SaggioroLeo SaggioroWInverted triangleWorld Champ.70KG4F2011
3116Mario ReisMario ReisWPts: 4x2World Champ.70KGSF2011
3129Augusto MendesAugusto MendesWPts: 4x4, AdvWorld Champ.70KGF2011
3200Bruno FrazattoBruno FrazattoWPts: 6x0ADCC66KGR12011
3240Justin RaderJustin RaderWRNCADCC66KG4F2011
3261Robson MouraRobson MouraWPointsADCC66KGSF2011
3275Rubens CharlesRubens CharlesWPenADCC66KGF2011
3564Andre MonteiroAndre MonteiroWArmbarPan American70KG4F2012
3565Justin RaderJustin RaderWTrianglePan American70KG4F2012
3569Mario ReisMario ReisWWristlockPan American70KGSF2012
3571Rubens CharlesRubens CharlesWArmbarPan American70KGF2012
3945Sandro BatataWBrabo chokeWorld Champ.70KGR22012
3957Cristiano RenatoWKimuraWorld Champ.70KGR32012
3964Takayuki KoyamaWChoke from backWorld Champ.70KG4F2012
3968Mario ReisMario ReisWPts: 2x0World Champ.70KGSF2012
3970Rubens CharlesRubens CharlesWReferee DecisionWorld Champ.70KGF2012
4151Andre MonteiroAndre MonteiroWBrabo chokeHouston Open70KGF2012
4527Renato VieiraWArmbarPan American70KG4F2013
4529Mario ReisMario ReisWPts: 2x0Pan American70KGSF2013
4530Rubens CharlesRubens CharlesWReferee DecisionPan American70KGF2013
4758Mayko BorgesWArmbarWorld Champ.70KG4F2013
4759Mario ReisMario ReisWAdvWorld Champ.70KGSF2013
4948Y. TakahitoWKimuraADCC66KGR12013
4957Tetsu SuzukiWArmbarADCC66KG4F2013
4959Joao MiyaoJoao MiyaoWPts: 2x0ADCC66KGSF2013
5111Geoffrey VillarealWArmbarSF Open70KGSF2013
5120Gustavo CarpioWWristlockHouston Open70KGSF2013
5126UnknownWTriangle armbarRickson Cup70KG4F2013
5127UnknownWArmbarRickson Cup70KGSF2013
5128UnknownWArmbarRickson Cup70KGF2013
5219Gianni GrippoGianni GrippoWPts: 3x0European70KGSF2014
5221Paulo MiyaoPaulo MiyaoWPts: 3x0European70KGF2014
5716Tumas KristenWChoke from backWorld Champ.70KGRDS2014
5719Nicollas AraujoWChoke from backWorld Champ.70KGRDS2014
5729Gianni GrippoGianni GrippoWChoke from backWorld Champ.70KG4F2014
5732Mario ReisMario ReisWChoke from backWorld Champ.70KGSF2014
5734Rubens CharlesRubens CharlesWPts: 10x8World Champ.70KGF2014
6183Yagi VicenteWTriangle armbarRickson Cup70KGR12014
6184Tsukada IchitaroWWristlockRickson Cup70KGR22014
6185Hirao YutoWCross chokeRickson Cup70KG4F2014
6186Okamoto YujiWArmbarRickson Cup70KGSF2014
6191Charles GasparWBow and arrowRickson CupABSSF2014
6607Osvaldo MoizinhoOsvaldo MoizinhoWChoke from backBerkut OpenABSSPF2015
6613Osvaldo MoizinhoOsvaldo MoizinhoWRNCBerkut Open NoGiABSSPF2015
7367Andre MonteiroAndre MonteiroWBow and arrowWorld Champ.70KG8F2015
7376Phillipe D. MonicaWChoke from backWorld Champ.70Kg4F2015
7377Mario ReisMario ReisWWristlockWorld Champ.70KGSF2015
7378Rubens CharlesRubens CharlesWPts: 6x0World Champ.70KGF2015
7535UnknownWArmbarBullterrier Cup70KG4F2015
7536UnknownWArmbarBullterrier Cup70KGSF2015
7537UnknownWArmbarBullterrier Cup70KGF2015
7538UnknownWArmbarBullterrier CupABS4F2015
7541Anderson TakahashiWArmbarBullterrier CupABSSF2015
9622Brian StuebnerWArmbarSan Antonio Open70KG4F2016
9624Isaac DoederleinIsaac DoederleinWPts: 0x0, AdvSan Antonio Open70KGSF2016
9625Gabriel MarangoniGabriel MarangoniWPts: 12x0San Antonio Open70KGF2016
9801Vitor PaschoalWArmbarLas Vegas Open70KGSF2016
9802Samir ChantreSamir ChantreWArmbarLas Vegas Open70KGF2016
9881Ichitaro TsukadaWChoke from backWorld Champ.70KGR22016
9889Leo SaggioroLeo SaggioroWPts: 6x0World Champ.70KG4F2016
9891Osvaldo MoizinhoOsvaldo MoizinhoWTriangle armbarWorld Champ.70KGSF2016
9893Marcio AndreMarcio AndreWPts: 10x10, AdvWorld Champ.70KGF2016

Rafael Mendes vs Cobrinha

Rafael Mendes vs Justin Rader

Rafael Mendes vs Gustavo Falciroli

Rafael Mendes Berimbolo Highlight by the Jiu Jitsu Lab

Rafael Mendes Highlight

 

Guard Passing Instructional by Lucas Lepri

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