Master Marcelo Pereira started his career in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu when he was seven years old in Rio de Janeiro, where he was born in 1978.
Although Marcelo’s first professor was Sebastiao Ricardo, a student of the legendary Master Oswaldo Fadda, he soon started training with Wendell Alexander, who has become a legend in his own right. Wendell was coaching a very successful junior Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu team in Rio, where Marcelo began to excel and win competitions.
Wendell had been acquainted with the coach of another very well known junior team, Andre Pederneiras. Partly in an effort to become more competitive with the Carlson Gracie teams they formed the world famous Nova Uniao, which means “New Union” in Portuguese.
With co-founders Alexander and Pederneiras, Nova Uniao became a powerhouse in competition Jiu-Jitsu and won the Team Division World Championships two years after being founded.
Breaking with an informal tradition at the time, Andre Pederneiras accepted the American BJ Penn as one of his students, and promoted him to black belt soon before he won the world championships, becoming the first non Brazilian to accomplish this. Joe Charles is another foreigner that began to train and excel with Nova Uniao.
When he was 18, as a brown belt, Marcelo became the head of his own school. This was a great honor for Marcelo, considering his age and the fact that he had not yet earned his black belt.
It didn’t take him long, however. The following year he was promoted to black, right before he competed in the 1998 World Championships, where he became a champion for the first time.
Marcelo continued to run his academy until 2006. His school had many students who won national and world championships, including:
Gilberto Santos – National and World Champion, Blue Belt
Otavio Vianna – Three time National Champion, Second Place Worlds, Blue and Purple Belts
Bruno Pereira – World Champion, Blue Belt
Bruno Sena – 2x World Champion, Blue Belt; 1x World Champion, Purple; 1x World Champion, Brown Belt
Leandro Ataide – Heavyweight World Champion Brown and Black Belt
Marcelo was not only a head coach, but he continued to compete. During this time his accomplishments include:
3x World Champion (Mundials), and Second place at Mundials in 2000
American Gold Cup Champion, 2004
5x National Champion, Brazil
9x State Champion, Rio de Janeiro
Professional league. Closed the bracket with teammate Robson Moura
Nova Uniao Accomplishments
Team Nova Uniao has also produced several state, national and world champions, and many successful mixed martial arts fighters, including:
BJ Penn, UFC and BJJ World Champion (the first American Black Belt BJJ fighter to win at the Worlds)
Robson Moura, 7x Mundials World Champion
Jose Aldo, WEC World Champion and recent UFC Champion
Victor “Shaolin” Ribeiro, Strike Force fighter
Leonardo Santos, BJJ World Champion
Marcelo moved to Florida in 2006 with his wife Aline, after visiting while giving a seminar.
While building his school in Naples, Marcelo made contact with Ricardo Liborio, a former Carlson Gracie competitor and friend, who was also a World Champion in the Super Heavyweight division under Carlson Gracie. Liborio himself had made the move to Florida in 2002 and co-founded American Top Team, one of the more accomplished schools in mixed martial arts.
Marcelo competed in the Mundials (World Championships) in 2010 and in 2012, where he won his division and became a world champion for the third time.
It’s a very unique thing to have a coach that still competes at the highest levels of the sport. As Ricardo Liborio has said in a recent interview regarding Marcelo, “…this is a key to a door that no money can buy.”
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