Gods of War: Braulio Estima

Braulio Estima is becoming a familiar name to MMA fans for his grappling prowess and his consistent attempts to make an MMA debut. With his grappling super match with UFC star and Cesar Gracie black belt Nick Diaz coming this weekend, it seemed fitting to kick off this series of martial legend with Braulio "Carcara" Estima.

This new series was originally meant to be a follow up to the History of Jiu Jitsu series, which had run its course and was devolving into a series of biographies. I wanted to embrace that idea and start a new series of biographies of famous grapplers. However, the possibilities of including other arts beyond just Brazilian Jiu Jitsu was too good to pass up. So, at the suggestion of KJ Gould, I changed the title and have opened it to all martial arts.

The title "Gods of War" is inspired by the ancient Greek and Roman belief that mortals who accomplished feats in combat would be deified and brought to live among the gods. This series will profile fighters that have transcended their martial art, be it grappling or striking, to become modern day Gods of War.

When speaking of the beginnings of a legendary grappler, many expect to hear a tale of an incandescent talent being taken under the wing of a wise and experienced black belt or a father raising his child in the grappling arts, as with the stories of Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza or Roger Gracie. Not so with Braulio Estima, who spent much of his early career training under a purple belt.


Related Coverage: Nick Diaz to donate entire purse to St. Jude's Children's Hospital | Stephie Daniels interviews Braulio about impending MMA debut | Ben Thapa previews the ADCC 2011 Superfight between Jacare and Braulio |Ben Thapa on ADCC 2011 Results (the significance of Braulio's victory against Jacare)


Braulio was born in 1980 in Recife, Brazil and he started grappling young, training in Judo at the age of nine. About a year into his training, his instructor died in a traffic accident and Braulio stopped training.

It wasn't until Braulio was sixteen that an old judo friend, Fernando Cavalcanti, convinced him to try out Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Braulio started going to a gym called "Free Style" run by Charles dos Anjos, a brown belt under Carlos Gracie Jr. Braulio took to Jiu Jitsu very quickly and after winning five junior titles in less than a year, he was promoted to blue belt.

More after the jump...

Braulio spent three years as a blue belt and, in that time, dos Anjos left to train in the United States with Royce Gracie. Another of Carlos Gracie Jr.'s students and freshly promoted purple belt, Jose Olimpio "Ze Radiola", took over. This was also how the Gracie Barra association began and the gym fell under the GB umbrella.

In 1999, after three years as blue belt, Braulio won the Pan Ams and was promoted to purple belt. In his first Pan Ams as a purple belt, Braulio took bronze. In 2001, Jacare Souza defeated Braulio in the semi-finals of the 76 kg division and Braulio would win bronze there too. He was quickly promoted to brown belt and began training directly under Carlos Gracie Jr. In 2003, Braulio again won the Pan Ams, blowing through the competition, submitting seven opponents in a combined time of just under six minutes.

After that performance, Braulio traveled to England, training at the famous Carlson Gracie "Boiler Room" Academy and the local Gracie Barra school run by Rolls Gracie black-belt Mauricio Gomes. Braulio began training with Mauricio's son and Roger Gracie and, together, Braulio and Roger grew by leaps and bounds. Braulio was awarded his black belt in early 2004 and entered the Mundials as a middleweight. Braulio won his way to the finals and was declared champion when Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza was forced to withdraw due to injury.

Braulio would return to the Mundials in 2005 and 2006, winning silver and gold. In 2007, Braulio qualified for the ADCCs and in the first round faced Polish grappler Tomas Szczerek. It started out with a quick pace, but after a few slams Braulio got angry and just switched to another level of grappling.

In the next round Braulio faced Chris Lazzarini.

In the finals, Braulio lost to Xande Ribeiro, but nonetheless, ADCC 2007 was an impressive showing for Estima.

In 2009, Braulio started the competition season off with a bang, winning both his weight and the absolutes at the European Championships (one of the big three IBJJF tournaments). Braulio continued his hot streak, winning his third world championship.

He then traveled to Barcelona for the ADCCs where he won his weight class by defeating Rafael Lovato Jr. and using a sick reverse triangle over Andre Galvao in the finals. In the Absolute division, Braulio went on one of the most impressive runs in the history of the sport. In the span of a few hours Brauilo first defeated Marcelo Garcia, then Vinny Magalhaes and then, in a nice twist of fate, Xande Ribeiro in the finals.

This legendary run topped of one of the greatest single years in grappling history in which Braulio won every single major tournament he entered. Since then Braulio has been looking to transition into MMA, but the collapse of his Shine Fights debut and an unfortunate neck injury sustained afterwards has postponed his move to MMA. In the meantime, Braulio did defeat Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza in a rematch at ADCC 2011 on points, 4-0.

MMA certainly is in Braulio's future as he is currently training in London and appeared for several weeks at the Blackzillians camp. This no-gi match with Nick Diaz promises to be an exciting bit of grappling from both sides.

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