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So What Happened Between Ralph Gracie and Flavio Almeida?

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Nicholas Meregali Instructionals

In case you haven’t been sleeping under a rock for the past few days, you may know one of Gracie Barra‘s main figures was assaulted last weekend – the team’s North America Executive Director, Mr. Flávio Almeida, in an event that took place at the IBJJF 2018 World No-Gi Championship. The aggression coming from Ralph Gracie, brother of Renzo Gracie and one jiu-jitsu’s pioneers in the Northern California area.

Although we do not have all the details regarding the “why” of this altercation – particularly from the Gracie vantage point, one thing seems to be common ground. There was an assault BY a member of our community TO another, and that is unacceptable. It is unacceptable in modern day society, let alone in a martial art that is said to be grounded on the beliefs of respect and honor. There is nothing honorable in a blindsided punch, regardless of how many spins one can give the build-up to the altercation.

As per the accounts of various eyewitnesses, the aggression occurred while Almeida was near the coaches barriers, cornering one of his students. He was approached by Ralph and elbowed from the blindside as Flavio was looking away. The blow knocked Almeida to the ground, where a few more strikes ensued and the damaged equated to, at least, 3 broken teeth.

The reason why, however, is dense and missing elements are yet to be revealed. So far, what we know is that Ralph Gracie and his legendary San Francisco South Bay academy have been going through some turmoil. Earlier this year, Ralph added longtime Gracie Barra team member João “Jerry” Oliveira to his coaching staff. Oliveira was a personal friend of Ralph who was forced to relocate to the Bay Area for family reasons, leaving GB to join RGA.

The reasons for Oliveira, a deeply rooted member of GB joining RGA had to do with another piece of this kerfuffle’s puzzle. An old unspoken rule in which San Francisco’s Bay Area was regarded as Ralph Gracie territory, a neighborhood not to be populated by Gracie Barra franchises. However, who was involved in making this deal, and the canons in which this rule was founded have not been made public.

The process of including Jerry in Ralph Gracie’s Academy meant an excess of coaches and for that reason, instructor Jake Scovel was removed from the team. Scovel was a beloved member of the academy, close to the students and to the “face” of the academy at the time, the illustrious Kurt Osiander. This tense circumstance ended with Osiader stepping aside to open his own gym and several students leaving with him.

Dealing with a strenuous situation inside his own academy, the thought of Gracie Barra franchises knocking at his doorstep was not ideal, and the news of this seems to have, according to our sources, been the catalyst for Ralph’s egregious reaction. The fact that Flávio Almeida oversees any expansion made by the Red Shield in North America made him a target for Gracie, whose bad relationship with Almeida seems to go further back.


Adding to the severity of the attack are the consequences that may arise from it. To understand who Almeida is, take into account that Flávio is one of the 3 figureheads of the Gracie Barra association, alongside Marcio Feitosa and Marco Joca. GB is the largest and most well-spread team in our sport by a long shot. Flávio is also the brother of Ricardo Almeida, a senior member of the Renzo Gracie Academy.

Although many relate to John Danaher as the head coach at Renzo’s, the reality is Ricardo is one of the Brazilian’s oldest and most loyal students, one who coaches some of the team’s top mixed martial arts (MMA) fighters, including Corey Anderson and Frankie Edgar. He is also coach to guys such as Tom deBlass, Garry Tonon and his importance inside the Renzo Gracie Academy is just as big as Flávio’s is at GB.

Almeida with Frankie Edgar Marlon Moraes and Magomedov Magomed

Ralph’s actions have not only placed him in dire straits with the law, but they have also maligned his brother’s own bonds with his team. Renzo’s decisions on who to support in this situation may very well dictate the dynamics of his workgroup, including that of Ricardo Almeida and the Danaher Death Squad inside the famous Blue Basement.

Bernardo Faria BJJ Foundations


  • MJ Kircher says:

    It’s a shame when a grown man isn’t capable of settling a disagreement like a man! That one foolish decision may well change the world of BJJ forever, and I don’t think it’s going to be a good change. I obviously don’t know the backstory behind the attack but,no matter what it is, there’s no excuse for sneaking someone the way Gracie has been reported to have done. I’m sure Ralph Gracie is normally an honorable man but, in that moment, he displayed a level of cowardice that is repulsive and unacceptable in a competition setting or anywhere else for that matter.
    Best wishes go out to both camps because I’m sure there’s bound to be much turmoil for all parties involved to try and get through. Good luck to everyone and I’m praying that Flavio makes a speedy recovery.

    • J says:

      Well said !!!!

    • Dean says:

      The Gracie family have a long history of stalking, ambushing and crippling opponents who have beaten them back in the day. The president of Brazil had to pardon some Gracies who were convicted of assault and battery charges for doing just that.

      They are ganged up at the highest levels of corruption. The whole UFC thing was a marketing scam consisting of cherry picked fights and last minute rule changes to ensure that Royce could win and the family gain popularity in the United States so they could promote BJJ and open a bunch of schools. No wrestlers familiar with BJJ were invited and no one invited knew what a double leg takedown even looked like much less know how to defend against it.

      They made Ken Shamrock fight without his shoes because they could be used as a weapon but allowed Royce to wear his gi which he most certainly used as a weapon. They stopped a fight between the sumo wrestler and a Norwegian karate stylist after the Norwegian broke his foot and then his hand on sumo guys face even though sumo guy was unfazed and could have continued, effectively eliminating both fighters but most importantly the sumo wrestler who posed a real problem for Royce.

      This family operates as a gang and run their schools like a racketeering operation. The family has a history of dishonorable and cowardly acts and are nothing more than whining babies who can’t handle defeat. I’m sure they aren’t all pieces of shit but gee look, another one showed his true colors.

      • robbie gareau says:

        good point deen

      • Georgios says:

        Don’t know much about the Gracie family’s dealings in Brazil so I won’t comment on that but your view on UFC 1 is one of the most ridiculous and dishonest takes I have ever heard. Ask Akebono, who was a much bigger and more accomplished sumo wrestler than the sumo wrestler in UFC 1, how much of a problem he posed for Royce.

        Another thing: what would putting in a wrestler familiar with BJJ in the competition accomplish? So he could use BJJ to defend Royce’s attacks? Remco was a Judo champion who trained BJJ before he entered the UFC (so he was more than just familiar with it) and you saw what happened when he faced a much smaller Royce.

    • Wow, just wow
      – I had the privilege to train at GBDP (Dana Point/SoCal) Flavio is an amazing dude and a freaking beast! He would have handled himself just fine even IF things went to the ground, which further explains why Ralph cheap-shotted him – just shameful

  • Slim7979 says:

    While I don’t agree with what happened, your article makes him sound like a Coward. I just watched the video and the EXACT OPPOSITE happened they were face to face. I smell bias

    • DogfatherBR says:

      Are you blind or dumb? Or both?

    • FP says:

      Lol Slim7979 where did they say he was a coward? Don’t get me wrong, I’M definitely calling him a coward, because he is.. did you miss the part of the video where he shook hands with Flavio before elbowing him (while Flavio wasn’t looking)? Or did you miss the part where others immediately kept other red shirts from coming to Flavio’s aid? This was most definitely a cowardly act because of a turf war that should have never happened in BJJ.

  • Beth Oliva says:

    Just look at the face of that fool Ralph Gracie : cross eye Neanderthal, zero intelligence and class, I expected not less from someone like him.

  • JJB says:

    @slim. You need to watch the video again. Flavio is literally leaning on the barrier with his hands hanging past clasped together. (So, not facing or squared off with Ralph. Ralph is in a T position, to Flavio’s side, which is absolutely ideal for a striker.) Flavio is looking somewhat down and to his right, not AT Ralph. Flavio does not see the shot coming at all. He doesn’t react until after the impact. It was an absolute COWARD move. This was not “mutual combat”. This was not two men squared off. It wasn’t a fight. It was an assault.

  • Carlos m says:

    Violence, at any professional event is inexcusable, there is no bias…. nobody’s life was threatened, no danger,,, cowardly is the man who can’t use his God given talent of intellect to solve differences and to condone such behavior or stand on the side of violence when in dispute is not a man but a boy at heart and has no rank among men .. the impact it has will be a double edge sword on the aggressor…. loss of respect,,,, loss of character, regret, life of shame, loss of family, dishonor, and last but not least the loss of a life Times efforts …..

  • mike Dytri says:

    Was the accomplice Lincoln Pereria ?

  • M to 13 says:

    No better then the teenage thugs that were playing the knock out game a few years back. My guess they were probably under the tutelage of this dirt bag. No shit, your exactly the dude I teach my tribe to run from. And if he catches you, smash him 10 times harder. For all the men willing to stand up for your code, may God be with you. Not sure where our civilization as a species is headed when I witness this! What happened to honor, code, pride?! Fucks sake man…….. You single handily dishonored your self, your family,your school, your craft, your code, your honor, your dignity….. With that one incident. Sadly, my guess you’ve always lived your life this way but this time you got caught. Con graduations on being a divider and or a complete hypocrite if you ever taught your students about alternatives to that bullshit.

    I’ll sign off with a sincere fuck you at this point in time. To the rest of you that support this maggot, karma is a bitch! Honor, respect and living by a code is a life to be proud of.

  • Michael says:

    Sad, Ralph dishonored himself, he’ll always be a coward to me now.

  • Otario says:

    So the punch wasn’t a suckerpunch. He was right in his ear. If you’ve got beef and you’re not prepared to defend yourself, then what’s the point of being a BJJ “fighter”?‍♂️. Flavio got his ass whooped was it the right thing to do, probably not but if you can’t use the “best” self defense out there against an aggressor then your jits may not be that good.

  • Master says:

    One question, if was Flavio who punch Ralph, people from Gracie Barra will support him?

  • Ashamed says:

    I’m saddened by this. I trained at Cesar and Ralph Gracie Academy in the 1990’s when Ralph taught classes. The lowest most dishonorable drunk punk at a bar sneaks a sucker punch like that. That is the epitomy of exactly what we train not to be. That was common criminal assault. I’m ashamed to say I went to that school at this moment and I hope that he loses all of his students as well as his freedom.

  • Cody Dev says:

    Flavio Almeida is one of the most honorable man I’ve ever met! Flavio is incredibly intelligent and not a bully in any way. All of his students love and respect him, he is very humble and willing to help anyone in need. However please be clear Mr. Flavio Almeida has won many world jiu jitsu titles and is extremely powerful dude. His jiu jitsu and martial arts ability is of the highest caliber now add high intelligence and extreme strength. Now you understand why mouth I mean Ralph blindsided him.

  • New2BJJ says:

    I’m fairly new to BJJ. I’m not into drama. Did I make a mistake signing up at a Ralph Gracie Center?

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