1998 World Championships
Black Belt Absolute Final
Tijuca Tenis Clube, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Ze’ Mario Sperry vs Roberto “Roleta” Magalhães
The 1998 open weight championship match had two of the Kings of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu of the era squaring off (for the second time that day) in one of the more drama filled matches you will see.
Ze’ Mario Sperry (left) is a Carlson Gracie Black Belt, co-founder of the powerhouse Brazilian Top Team, 3 time World Champion (1996, 1997, 1998, 2 time ADCC champion – the first person to win his weight (-99kg) and absolute in the same event. He would go on to have a successful MMA career, primarily in Pride, and be regarded as an exceptional BJJ and MMA coach.
Roberto “Roleta” Magalhães (Roleta means Roulette in Portuguese) is a Gracie Barra Black Belt, 4 time World Champion (1996,1997,1998,2000) and 4 Time Pan Champion (1996,1997,1998,1999). He is widely regarded as having one of the best guards in BJJ derived from his flexibility, dexterity, and creativity. He is on my bucket list to train with.
As mentioned, earlier in these championships Roleta defeated Ze’ Mario in the quarter finals of the Super Heavy weight division (by points). Also, during the late 1990’s, there was a tremendous rivalry between the Carlson Gracie Academy and the Gracie Barra Academy. This provides the context to explain why this match is a little nuts.
In this match, you have everything: a wardrobe malfunction, improper resets, a ‘Brazilian Tap’ to a deep clock choke around minute 5, a clueless ref, weird penalties, effective stalling, arguments over everything and a final decision which I have no clue how it was scored.
Regardless.. the match is still fun.
Enjoy Ze’ Mario vs Roleta: