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Rigan Machado

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Rigan Machado is a red & black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, having been the very first black belt graded by Carlos Gracie Junior. Rigan is the nephew of Gracie Jiu Jitsu founder, Carlos Gracie (Senior), having been amongst the toughest BJJ competitors of the 1980s. Machado moved to the USA in the late 1980s where he established his own successful grappling franchise, producing high profile fighters such as Rico Rodriguez and coaching famous personalities like Dan Ionosanto and Chuck Norris. Rigan Machado is also a successful author, having published one of the most successful books in Jiu Jitsu, the Encyclopedia of  BJJ.

Rigan Machado Jiu Jitsu

Full Name: Rigan Machado

Nickname: N/A

Lineage:  Carlos Gracie Sr. > Helio GracieCarlos Gracie Junior > Rigan Machado

Main Achievements:

  • Pan American Champion (1996, 1997 weight & absolute)
  • ADCC Bronze Medallist (2000)

Favorite Position: n/a

Weight Division: Peso Pesadíssimo (over 100kg/221lbs)

Team/Association: Machado Jiu Jitsu

Rigan Machado Biography

Rigan Machado was born on the 2nd of July, 1966 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He had Carlos Gracie as an uncle (Carlos was married to the sister of Rigan’s mother) and so Rigan grew up being very close to the Jiu-Jitsu environment, rolling with his cousins from an early age.

When Rigan reached his mid-teens (around 14 or 15 years old), he started taking Jiu-Jitsu more seriously, becoming a fierce competitor. He started training with one of his older cousins, who was already a legend of the sport, Rolls Gracie, and stayed with Rolls until his tragic death in 1982. At the time, Carlos Gracie Junior was seen as Rolls Gracie’s second in command and Rigan as the 3rd, with the Master’s passing, Rigan took the spot as an assistant instructor while Carlinhos took control of the class, shortly after Rigan Machado became the first-ever Carlos Gracie Junior black belt.

In the late 1980s, Rigan Machado came to San Francisco where he spent some time with his cousin Cesar Gracie. He stayed in the Bay Area for a while, but there was very little Jiu-Jitsu there and so he moved to Los Angeles. In L.A. he started coaching at Rorion Gracie’s academy, Royce Gracie was incredibly busy teaching private lessons and with the enthusiastic growth of the place, Rorion needed someone to coach the group classes. Rigan Machado spent a year at the Gracie academy but he left because of diverging ideas on how classes should be structured. As Rigan left, he had plans to call his own academy Gracie Jiu Jitsu, this was not possible as Rorion Gracie had the legal rights to the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu name in the United States of America.

As Rigan did not have the legal rights to give his master’s name to his school, he chose to call it Machado Jiu-Jitsu with the approval of Carlinhos Gracie. In the early days, Rigan was fortunate to have the help of Hollywood actor Chuck Norris, who helped him get established and brought a lot of attention to the gym. With the rapid growth of the academy, Rigan felt the need to bring his own brothers to the US to help him with the business.

As there weren’t any BJJ competitions in the US worthy of a fighter of Rigan’s caliber at the time, Machado decided to start competing in different tournaments where he could keep sharp and have fun. He entered many Sambo (Sombo) and Judo competitions winning several of those, including 3 Pan American championships and 4 national US championships in Sambo, but as both Sambo and Judo had very restricting rules on the ground, Rigan ended leaving his competitive career on the side to dedicate himself fully to coaching Jiu-Jitsu.

Rigan Machado Grappling Record

    7 (100%)
    0 (0%)
    0 (0%)
    0 (0%)
    0 (0%)
  • BY DQ
    0 (0%)


    3 (38%)
    1 (13%)
    3 (38%)
    0 (0%)
    0 (0%)
  • BY DQ
    0 (0%)



Rigan Machado Fight History

ID Opponent W/L Method Competition Weight Stage Year
35Cassio CardosoCassio CardosoLPointsLINJJIABSF1984
46Rickson GracieRickson GracieLExhaustionIII Copa CompanyABSF1986
65Rickson GracieRickson GracieLChokeNAABSSPF1995
340Jeff MonsonLAdvADCC99KGSF1999
342Ricardo AlmeidaRicardo AlmeidaLChokeADCC99KG3PLC1999
456Mark KerrLPts: 2x0ADCCO99KGSF2000
536Olav EinemoLInjuryADCC99KGR12001
803Roger GracieRoger GracieLPointsADCC99KG4F2003
81Roberto RoletaRoberto RoletaWPts: 3x0Pan AmericanABS4F1996
83Eduardo JamelaoEduardo JamelaoWPts: 7x0Pan AmericanABSSF1996
330Sanae KikutaWPointsADCC99KGR11999
335Jerry BolanderWPts: 2x0ADCC99KG4F1999
452Mario EsfihaMario EsfihaWPts: 3x0ADCCO99KGR12000
455Pete WilliamsWPts: 7x0ADCCO99KG4F2000
802Yuki OzawaWPointsADCC99KGR12003

Rigan Machado at Judo Tournament

Rigan at Sambo Tournament

Rigan Machado vs Rickson Gracie


Bernardo Faria BJJ Foundations


  • ahmad says:

    I know him via his good book about bjj.Machado brothers such as Jean Jacks,John is the best.I love their fighting style.

  • Jon Danniells says:

    I was fortunate to be able to have trained with him and rolled with all of his brothers except Carlos who had already moved to Texas; it's a goal of mine to get there and at least meet him; in Atlanta I was lucky and ending up training with Helio "Soneca" Moreira; a good friend and amazing instructor; wow, I was just looking at the "Dirty Dozen" and then the Women's Dirty Dozen; rolled with 3 of the men and 1 of the women; dang I've been doing this for a while I suppose

  • Michael Sapir CEO, Sapir Real Estate Development says:

    Bob Bass is the first true American to earn his jiu jitsu black belt from Rigan Machado in 1996. I’ve trained with Dartanian Bagby, Rey Diogo and Bob Bass all very experienced instructors. Michael Sapir is the CEO to Sapir Real Estate Development Company headquartered in New York located in Trump SoHo Towers.

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