Thursday, September 29, 2011

Marcelo = Greatest of All Time?

This is a guest post by T.P. Grant, part of the Bloody Elbow Grappling Coverage Team.

Marcelo Garcia is one of the most popular fighters in the BJJ community. Known as 'Marcelinho', he is a member of the trinity of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, along with Roger Gracie and Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza. This past Sunday Marcelo may have set himself apart by winning his fourth ADCC championship.
An accomplished BJJ middleweight (163 lbs), Marcelo is a five-time world champion at the black belt level in Gi Jiu Jitsu. He entered the ADCCs fresh off of wining an IBJJF championship and in the first two rounds Marcelo dispatched Davis Heart and Vitor Estima in less than two minutes combined with his patented guillotine from mount.

In the semi-finals, Marcelo faced the young and hungry up and comer Kron Gracie, son of legend Rickson Gracie. Kron, a black belt since 2009 and still seeking his first World Championship, was trapped in a stacked division with veteran competitors. In his semi-final match with Marcelo, Kron locked on a guillotine choke that appeared very tight. Marcelo admitted he thought about tapping, but resolved to fight until he passed out and managed to escape.

Marcelo won the match on points, but it was the sternest test he had faced in years. In the finals Marcelo faced Leo Vieira - a 2x ADCC champion who once fought an almost 100lbs heavier Mark Kerr to a stand-still. Marcelo quickly defeated Vieira with a triangle from mount. Marcelo finished the two biggest grappling competitions of 2011 not only as the champion, but without a single point being scored against him.
With this victory Marcelo Garcia moves into a class of his own as the most decorated ADCC competitor. Roger Gracie's greatness stems from domination with fundamentals, Jacare Souza's from physical brilliance, while Marcelo's stems from technical brilliance. Marcelo's creativity and innovation has lead him to create amazingly effective, deviously simple and detail heavy sweeps.

Marcelo realized as he was progressing towards black belt that at the highest levels of BJJ, submissions from the back had become the exception instead of the rule and focused his guard game on sweeping rather than submitting. Marcelo mastered the butterfly guard and then adapted it to the super technical X-Guard and tinkered with both positions with and without the gi.

Marcelo is still a young man, in his late twenties, and has a long grappling career still ahead of him. While Roger Gracie's accomplishments are well-documented and his ability to pass the guard and submit seemingly anyone will always earn him a spot among the all-time greats, Marcelo Garcia stands alone as the pound-for-pound greatest living grappler. Nine of the most prestigious gold medals in submission grappling hang in Marcelo's closet and the technical innovations make him a once in a generation type talent, akin to Carlos and Helio Gracie the original innovators of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

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