The original plan for this "You Know Who Was Awesome" was to cover the career of Marco Ruas, one of the more controversial figures of the pre-Zuffa era. However, I felt it was necessary to cover a more interesting fighter, Wallid Ismail, a Vale Tudo fighter and BJJ black belt under Grandmaster Carlson Gracie. Wallid is currently the owner and operator of Jungle Fight, a Brazil-based MMA organization that has launched the careers of Gabriel Gonzaga, Fabricio Werdum, and Paulo Thiago, just to name a few. In fact, you've probably seen Wallid in Paulo's corner during fights and as his translator for post-fight interviews. But this isn't "Where are they now" this is "You Know Who Was Awesome", so lets talk turkey, and by that I mean Wallid's BJJ and MMA career.
In order to understand Wallid's beef with the Gracie family, you first need to understand the split between Carlson Gracie and Helio Gracie. The Gracie family was running an academy at the same time that Carlson opened up his school. There was a differing philosophy on how to teach Jiu Jitsu as Helio felt that only the most basic of techniques should be taught to non-family members, while Carlson would teach all techniques and positions. This along with an argument on who truly founded the art-form (Carlson stated it was his father who developed Brazilian Jiu Jitsu), caused a riff in the family and two academies to be opened. Helio's brand of Jiu Jitsu focused on technical proficiency, under the philosophy that technique can always counter size, while Carlson favored a constant stream of attack style of Jiu Jitsu.
Wallid was a member of Carlson Gracie's academy from 1984 to the day Carlson died. His BJJ career saw him take on four members of the Gracie family, Royce, Renzo, Ralph, and Ryan, defeating each of them. While his personal problems with Ryan are well-documented, it's his victory over Royce that was truly impressive. Like everything the Gracie family did, there was a special set of rules for his match with Royce. Wallid accepted the conditions that their match be no-time limit and no point scoring, thus making this a match that could only end in submission. Wallid ended the fight in under five minutes when he sunk in a Clock Choke, a technique forever tied to this match. Royce demanded a rematch, which Wallid would only accept if he was paid $200,000; a monetary compensation value that way outside the scope of Gracie's means. The win also made Wallid the "Gracie Killer" on the BJJ mats. Below you can see a video of the fight, excuse the poor quality. Please note the emotion and the celebration, this was a major BJJ fight in Brazil.
His MMA career began at an event that he organized himself in Brazil, Desafio - Jiu Jitsu vs. Luta Livre back in 1991. He took on Luta Livre fighter Eugenio Tadeu in a brutal 16 minute fight. He finally was victorious after Tadeu could no longer continue due to injury. Normally footage of these early events is hard to come by, especially events from Brazil, but there is a pretty good quality video of this fight that I've posted below. You'll see that Tadeu has a difficult time adjusting to Wallid's non-stop pace. It is not the most technical fight as bare knuckle fights tend to be, almost to the point where I feel it's almost a street fight in a ring between two trained fighters.
Wallid wouldn't fight again until 1996, at a Universal Vale Tudo Fighting event in Japan, where he took on Australian Fighter Dennis Kefalinos. After securing the takedown, Wallid used ground and pound to set up a rear naked choke. He finished the fight in just over two minutes. He would fight again that year at another Universal VTF event, this time held in Brazil. He would take on Japanese fighter Katsumi Usuta. Usuta did a fairly decent job at preventing Wallid from transitioning from guard to mount but once it did happen, Wallid opened up with nonstop punches. You can actually see Usuta tap the mat from strikes, but the referee ignores this submission and instead Usuta gives up his back and the Rear Naked Choke submission. This was a much more technical fight and Wallid's transitions on the ground are beautiful. The ending though is ridiculous as the Japanese fighter was clearly trying to submit while the ref ignored his violent taps on the mat. Again, video below.
Usuta and Wallid would meet again that same year, this time at the U-Japan event in you guessed it, Japan. Wallid would again finish Usuta by Rear Naked Choke. Usuta was clearly uncomfortable off his back rolls to give up his back after Wallid secures side control. A few violent punches to the back of the neck and Wallid sinks in the choke once again. Wallid would compete in the UFC in his next fight against Kazuo Takahashi at UFC 12. Kazuo never had the greatest fight record but he competed against some of the all-time greats in Pancrase such as Bas Rutten, Ken Shamrock, and Masakatsu Funaki, so his record didn't necessarily reflect his skill as a fighter. The fight in the UFC went to decision and was Wallid's first loss. I've tried to locate footage of this fight but searches have lead to nothing, so I fear that unless someone with some old VHS tapes uploads it onto youtube, it is lost.
Wallid would bounce back from his first loss, against a Luta Livre fighter named Johil de Oliveira at IVC 3 in Brazil. Wallid would pick up his first submission via Punches stoppage on his record after NINE MINUTES OF GROUND AND POUND. Wallid looked great in the fight and Oliveira's face was a complete mess after the bout. He would follow up his IVC win a year later at IVC 5 taking on American fighter Gary Myers. Myers was a 5'9" 220lb American wrestler who is one of the unknowns of the sport. A look at his record and you'll see that he took on a who's who of early champs such as Marcus Silveira , who was Wallid's teammate, and Yuki Kondo, who was 11-3 with wins over Frank Shamrock, Semmy Schilt, Guy Mezger, and Funaki. Myers was the second fighter ever to take Wallid to decision, but unfortunately lost Unanimously in the Judges' eyes. It's a pretty good fight if you can find footage.
Wallid would then sign with PRIDE and take on current DREAM judge Akira Shoji. Wallid was totally outsized but was able to control the larger Japanese fighter early in the fight. Wallid, who had never had conditioning issues grew tired and Shoji was able to finish him in the second round with punches. It would be Wallid's first referee stoppage loss of his career. Unfortunately I was unable find the complete fight but here is the final 1:15. You can hear Bas and Stephen Quadros completely dumbfounded that Wallid is tired and Bas shares that realizing you can't do anything is the worst thing for a fighter, and completely foreign to Wallid.
Wallid is best known for his beef with Ryan Gracie. Their blood fued began in November 1999, when Ryan agreed to fight Wallid at a WEC event in January 2000. He relocated to New York to train with his brother Renzo Gracie's academy. The fight never materialized as Wallid was working on a contract to return to the PRIDE ring. Unfortuantely, as most things do when dealing with Japanese MMA promotions, the PRIDE return would fall through at the 11th hour. Wallid signed on for the WEC fight on short notice (six weeks), but inexplicably, Ryan dropped out. In December, they ran into each other at famous Pepe beach and almost came to blows. It turned out to be a ton of posturing and and was eventually broken up. Later in that same month, Ryan showed up to Wallid's gym and threatened to pull a gun on him. It was quickly diffused and Ryan left after Wallid backed down. You would figure that's the end of this, threatening to pull a gun on someone would squash whatever is between you since dying is different than fighting. Unfortunately, that was not the case. In October 2000, Ryan sucker punched Wallid at a Bad Boy (not Puff Daddy's record label) party in Brazil. Friends got involved and Wallid choked Ryan unconscious. They agreed to fight in the WEC in April 2001, but Ryan opted to stab someone instead and went to jail where he died of an overdose. Below are two interviews about Ryan Gracie.
Was Wallid Ismail an all time great? Probably not. His biggest win in MMA was Gary Myers, who is an unknown. In BJJ; however, Wallid is a legend for his wins over the Gracie family. He's also well respected in Brazilian MMA for his Jungle Fight promotion. And he's a damn good interview. In my eyes, that makes him one of the most interesting people in MMA.
Originally posted on Unintelligent Defense. Here's the full post though you goddamn babies.