Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Team History, Fighter Stats, Biographies and News

BJJ Fanatics Instructionals
BJJ Fanatics Instructionals

The New Star, Jiu-Jitsu’s First Reality TV Show

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Craig Jones Brand New Instructional

The success of the Big Brother brand around the world has created many branches of the TV show, with a variety of alternative formats, one of the most well known to martial arts fans being The Ultimate Fighter (TUF), a product of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) that achieved peak ratings back in the mid-2010s but is still hanging strong, currently going for its 29th season. TUF provided an interesting concept where mixed martial arts fighters were stuck in a house and had to compete against each other to win the show and earn a three-figure contract with the famous fighting promotion.

Although the popularity of Big Brother and that whole genre of reality TV has severely dwindled over the past 10 years in the US and Europe, in Brazil the program is still going strong being one of the most watched shows on television.

More recently, the creators of the BJJ Stars event/brand have picked up on the continuous ratings success of Big Brother Brazil and opted to produce their own reality TV vision, a jiu-jitsu version of BBB, named The New Star (TNS). Truthfully, the concept of the program is closer to The Ultimate Fighter, as the show features two teams of athletes – consisting of male and female fighters – who compete against each other for a grand prize. The program also showcases a few big names of the sport who are coming in as coaches. These get to compete against each other also, in the final event.

THE NEW STAR CONCEPT

Unlike TUF, which featured mainly unknown/unsigned cage fighters, The New Star features some of the top grapplers on the world circuit, nevertheless, it also includes a handful of dark horses from circuits outside the main hubs of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, such as Jenifer Oliveira (Sorocaba), Axel Roger (Belém do Pará), Lucas Barros (Bahia), Rebeca Alburquerque (Bahia), and rising Florianopolis black belt Victoria Ulrich.

There are a few interesting and different aspects that separate TNS from other shows of this nature. The rules dictate that contestants be put through different team challenges every week, with the winning team deciding which athletes compete in the 3 matches of the week.

After the fights are picked (every Tuesday), athletes have 48 hours to make weight and outline strategies, but the challenge-winning team will hold a trump card until the final moments, only revealing the match ruleset (gi or in no-gi) until after the weigh-ins on game day. The matches go forth on Thursdays.

Although a complete novel form of jiu-jitsu entertainment and lacking English subtitles (a big drop of the ball for the production company, in our opinion), The New BJJ Star has been very well received. Even more so, if we consider it has had little to no coverage from the top media/news websites in the sport. Ratings-wise, both episodes 1 and 2 of TNS have out-performed FloGrappling’s top YouTube videos (The Daisy Fresh) of the same week. To have an idea of how impressive this is, take into consideration that Flo’s YouTube channel has over 10x the subscribers of BJJ Stars.

THE NEW STAR CONTESTANTS

GRAY TEAM

GABRIEL COSTA “MARANHÃO” >>> Check BJJ Heroes Profile Here
One of the rising medium-heavyweights in São Paulo’s circuit, “Maranhão” had a bumpy start in the black belt division last year. His talent, however, is unquestionable – Gabriel was a Brazilian National Champ (purple belt), European Open silver medal (2020 brown belt), also holding plenty of medals at the South American Championships.

– SABATHA LAÍS
A veteran of the game at 31YO, there is very little Sabatha hasn’t competed – and won – on the Brazilian grappling circuit. The Ryan Gracie Academy product is a physical specimen, has a very technical guard, and is the most experienced female player on the show. Expect her to share the favoritism with her Team Gray teammate, Thamara Ferreira, in the show.

– AXEL ROGER
One of the least known faces on the show is Belérm do Pará’s Roger. Axel is a recent black belt and competes mainly in the Northeastern region of Brazil. The ace-card under his sleeve might be his relative anonymity and how his game will be a complete mystery to those he will face.

– LUCAS BERNARDES “KHABIB”
During the first episodes of The New Star, Bernardes looked to be one of the most focussed competitors on the show. The athlete, nicknamed Khabib, is a product of Roberto Godoy’s school, one of the most traditional jiu-jitsu teams in the state of São Paulo (G13), a circuit where “Khabib” has competed for a few years.

– VICTÓRIA ULRICH “VIC”


Vic is a recent black belt from the southern region of Brazil, who also competes in CrossFit. During her colored belt division career, Ulrich conquered a bronze medal at the IBJJF World Championships (blue belt), South American Championships (purple belt), and gold at the South Brazilian tournament (brown belt).

– THAMARA FERREIRA >>> Check BJJ Heroes Profile Here

 

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Most grappling fans will be well aware of Thamara. She is a regular face on the international scene and has been since her colored belt days, with medals in the toughest tournaments on Earth.

Over the past (nearly) two years, Ferreira maintained a high level of activity in both the IBJJF and AJP leagues where she conquered 1 European title and 3 Grand Slam gold medals, as well as a bronze medal at the World No-Gi Championship.

As mentioned above, Thamara will be one of the hardest athletes to beat here and is the favorite to win, alongside Sabatha Laís. Two grapplers who have competed against each other in the past, being 1-1 wins each.

– INGRIDD ALVES >>> Check BJJ Heroes Profile Here

 

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Another very active athlete in Brazil is Ingridd, one of the sport’s rising black belts who is currently 8-1-0. Alves is from the Northeastern region of the country but trains mainly in São Paulo, at Guigo JJ, alongside Thamara Ferreira and “Maranhão” – all three being students of Luiz Guigo.

– LEONARDO LARA >>> Check BJJ Heroes Profile Here
The biggest male name on Team Gray is Almeida Jiu-Jitsu black belt, Leo Lara. Competing at the highest level in the sport since 2018, Lara medaled in plenty of important tournaments and beat top-shelf talent such as Jaime Canuto, Italo Moura, Jhonny Loureiro, Rafael Mansur, to name a few.

Leonardo plays well from the top and bottom, is very powerful, and will be one of the toughest middleweights to beat in the show.

RED TEAM

– MARCOS MARTINS “PETCHO” >>> Check BJJ Heroes Profile Here

 

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Petcho is another hidden gem of jiu-jitsu in Brazil. Extremely talented, Marcos could easily be regarded as one of the top 5-10 athletes in the sport, today. He is 58-13-0 as a black belt, with only one loss coming via submission.

Sadly, the Marco Barbosa student struggled to obtain a US visa in the past which blocked his attempts at competing in the sport’s main tournaments. His only expedition to America over the past few years was in 2019 when he competed at the IBJJF World No-Gi Championships and topped Atos’ star, Ronaldo Junior. Unfortunately, Marcos suffered an injury in the match and could not fight in his following match.

Martins has wins over the aforementioned Ronaldo, as well as Claudio Calasans, Alexandre Jesus, Rafael Paganini, Matheus Spirandeli, Servio Túlio and more.

– NATAN CHUENG >>> Check BJJ Heroes Profile Here

 

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Another big name on the show is Natan of Cicero Costha. Although a representative of the São Paulo based team, Chueng is originally from the famous workgroup of the Favela do Cantagalo in Rio de Janeiro, a gym that produced names like Jackson Sousa, Alan Finfou, and others.

Chueng has been competing internationally, at black belt, since 2019, with plenty of high-profile wins on his record. He is, however, one of the lightest contestants on the show.

– JENIFER OLIVEIRA
We do not have much information on Oliveira. She represents ZR Team, is 28 years old, and comes from Sorocaba.

– LUCAS BARROS
Another name that might be lesser known to the general public is Barros, a black belt under Demian Maia, and one of the instructors at Maia’s school. Barros was originally a construction site welder but gave up on his profession to dedicate his life to jiu-jitsu.

– LUCAS GUALBERTO “PIAUÍ” >>> Check BJJ Heroes Profile Here

 

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The front-runner of the men’s division is Lucas Gualberto, who represents the famous Dream Art Project of São Paulo. Gualberto is currently one of the most promising middleweights in the world, being undefeated as a black belt with a 15-0-0 record and holding wins over big names of the sport such as Italo Moura, Victor Nithael, Yan Lucas, Jake MacKenzie, and fellow TNS contestants Leo Lara and Natan Chueng.

– RENATA MARINHO >>> Check BJJ Heroes Profile Here
Once hailed as one of the rising stars of the colored belt divisions – where she earned 3 world titles – Marinho has struggled with injuries since reaching her black belt career. These have affected her consistency on the mats, nevertheless, the quality of her technique is undeniable – a characteristic that earned Renata a place as an instructor at the Alliance Headquarters in São Paulo,

– IZADORA CRISTINA
Arguably the most out-of-the-box pick on the show, Izadora has always transpired an image of someone who frowns on media attention, a character trait at odds with being on a reality TV show. The talented heavyweight had a successful career in the lower belt divisions of the sport and, although we have not seen her compete at black belt yet, she is expected to do well here.

– REBECCA ALBUQUERQUE “DOIDONA”
With the nickname “crazy” you can expect Albuquerque to be great entertainment at the fighter house, but will she be competitive in the athletic side of the show? At this moment in time, it is hard to tell. We don’t have any info on her results in the bigger tournaments of the sport, save for a gold medal at the European Open as a blue belt.

THE COACHES

Another point of interest in the show is the coaching staff, and being able to have a glimpse of the training styles of each team. The show will produce a roll of instructors with international experience. These are:

GRAY TEAM

– Felipe Pena (FP Team / Gracie Barra)
– João Gabriel Rocha (Double Five)
– Bianca Basílio (Almeida JJ)
– Claudio Caloquinha (Gracie Barra)

RED TEAM

– Patrick Gaudio (Dream Art)
– Mahamed Aly (Dream Art / TLI)
– Monique Elias (Alliance)
– Michael Langhi (Alliance)

Already underway, the show has released 3 episodes, with the first 3 matches bringing plenty of excitement and two submissions. To watch the matches, check the episode below:

Episode 3, The Matches

 

Garry Tonon Grappling Escapes

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