One of the main competitors in both Jiu Jitsu and Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, José Mário Sperry, also known as Zé Mário or Zé Maquina, was a big figure of the Pride Fc organization in Japan. Though he was awarded his black belt by the late Master Carlson Gracie, Sperry left the Carlson Gracie Academy at the turn of the century, to form and lead the Brazilian Top Team (BTT), a controversial move at the time that turned him into a persona non grata in his masters circle. BTT would become one of the most successful MMA gyms in the world for most of that decade an achievement highly influenced by Sperry’s presence.
Ze Mario Sperry Jiu Jitsu
Full Name: Jose Mario Sperry
Nickname: He is often called “Zé” Mario, Zé is short for José in Portuguese. Sperry was also named “Zé Maquina” (Zé Machine) for his fighting skills.
- World BJJ Champion (1996, 1997, 1998 @absolute)
- ADCC World Champion (1998 weight and absolute)
- ADCC Superfight Champion (1999, 2000, 2011)
Favorite Technique/Position: Guard Pass and Clock Choke.
Weight Division (in BJJ): Super Pesado (100kg)
Team/Affiliation: Started w/ Carlson Gracie, changed to BTT (Brazilian Top Team).
Jose Mario Sperry Biography
Jose Mario Sperry was born on the 28th of September 1966, in Porto Alegre – Brazil, later moving to Rio de Janeiro. Like many other martial arts practitioners from his generation, Sperry’s first approach to grappling came through Judo, a sport he started with George Medhi. Zé Mario only started Jiu Jitsu when he was already a brown belt in the Japanese art of throwing. After this first approach to BJJ he became obsessed with the “gentle art”, making it his life style. This obsession led to a very fast rise to blue belt (one month) a belt received from the hands of Master Carlson Gracie the same person that would award him with the black belt years later. It is said that on his way to black belt, Sperry did not concede one single point or advantage in competitive Jiu Jitsu.
In George Medhi’s gym, many athletes prepared for the Olympics and Sperry trained with them every day, gaining alot of the physical attributes of an Olympic level athlete. Coming from a Military College, physical training was a big part of his day to day routine, having trained extensively in Water Polo, Volleyball, Football (soccer) and Hammer Throw.
Sperry also has a degree in Economy and worked as an economist for a short period. That came to a holt when he was offered a job as a BJJ instructor for an academy in Porto Alegre in 1993. His first No-Holds-Barred fight was in 1995 in Niteroi, Brazil in a show called “Duelo de Titas”, his opponent was a fighter by the name of Tyson.
Sperry became an amazing competitor in both Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Submission Wrestling winning Gold at all the major tournaments in both sports, also venturing in “Vale-Tudo” the base of what Mixed Martial Arts became. Although he had raised the Carlson Gracie flag for most of his BJJ career, in 2000 Sperry together with Murilo Bustamante, Ricardo Liborio and “Bebeo” Duarte decided to leave the famous team to form their own endeavor (Brazilian Top Team), a break up that was less then amicable, ending in the process the best Brazilian Jiu Jitsu team of that era.
One of the reasons behind this break up was the fact that Carlson Gracie had moved to the United States, and fighters like Sperry, Arona who competed in MMA and wanted to train with their master would have to travel to the US (all costs at the fighters own expense). Bustamante and Sperry got the idea of having coaches in Rio that could teach all aspects of the fight game – Wrestling and Kickboxing coaches (leaving BJJ to them) to which Carlson disapproved as he wanted to supervise their training. There was also the commission that the gym took over the fighters purses which weighed heavily on the break up decision.
Sperry also became the manager of many important fighters such as the Nogueira Brothers (Rogerio and Rodrigo), Ricardo Arona and many others. in the late 2000’s Ze Mario Sperry retired from fighting and coaching, becoming an entrepreneur though keeping his links to Jiu Jitsu.
Mario Sperry Grappling Record
8 SUBMISSIONS WINS
0 SUBMISSION LOSSES
Mario Sperry Fight History
|233||Roberto RoletaRoberto Roleta||L||Points||World Champ.||100KG||4F||1998|
|294||Leonardo LeiteLeonardo Leite||L||Pts: 4x0||World Champ.||100KG||F||1999|
|299||Rodrigo CompridoRodrigo Comprido||L||Adv||World Champ.||ABS||SF||1999|
|797||Roger GracieRoger Gracie||L||Pts: 5x0||ADCC||99KG||R1||2003|
|63||Francisco Bueno||W||Wristlock||Atlantico Sul||100KG||F||1994|
|122||Paulo Teodoro||W||N/A||World Champ.||100KG||SF||1997|
|123||Saulo RibeiroSaulo Ribeiro||W||Points||World Champ.||ABS||R2||1997|
|127||Roberto CorreaRoberto Correa||W||Wristlock||World Champ.||ABS||4F||1997|
|169||Ricardo Alves||W||Pts: 5x0||ADCC||99KG||F||1998|
|185||Oleg Taktarov||W||Pts: 4x0||ADCC||ABS||4F||1998|
|241||Unknown||W||Cross choke||World Champ.||ABS||4F||1998|
|243||Royler GracieRoyler Gracie||W||Clock choke||World Champ.||ABS||SF||1998|
|244||Roberto RoletaRoberto Roleta||W||Adv||World Champ.||ABS||F||1998|
|3278||Renzo GracieRenzo Gracie||W||Pts: 2x0||ADCC||ABS||SPF||2011|
|5010||Fabio GurgelFabio Gurgel||W||Referee Decision||ADCC||ABS||SPF||2013|
Ze Mario Sperry vs. Royler Gracie