For the last decade, Fight Sports has produced top level talent within BJJ. Their competitors have excelled at both gi and no-gi competitions proving that Fight Sports is a well rounded BJJ affiliation.
Here is what you need to know about the Fight Sports Jiu Jitsu Team, from how they got started to the world champions they’ve produced, including the recent impressive performances of four young Fight Sports athletes who qualified for the 2022 ADCC Championship. Finally, we’ll examine the team’s recent controversies.
The History of Fight Sports Jiu Jitsu
Cyborg Abreu & Vagner Rocha’s friendship
Before Fight Sports was even conceived of, Roberto “Cyborg” Abreu and Vagner Rocha were doing their own thing as competitors. The two first met at a competition in 2007 and regularly saw each other at different tournaments.
In 2009, they both competed at the Copa America tournament in the open weight division. Both athletes won their semi-final matches, meeting each other in the finals.
The result was a great match which developed into a close friendship and the two began training together.
After Rocha and Abreu became friends, they began developing a connection with some other top athletes and coaches. This included: Pablo Popovitch, Marcus Almeida, Raphael Chaves, and Rodrigo Cavaca.
These elite level grapplers, along with few other top black belts, would form their own short-lived super team which they called “The Avengers.”
This super team was together from the middle of 2009 to the end of 2010. The Avengers team made an impressive one year run.
Their best performance would be their last, as multiple members put on a show at the 2010 No-Gi World Championship. Unfortunately, Cavaca and Almeida returned to Brazil after the tournament and the Avengers team dissolved shortly after.
Abreu forms Fight Sports
Even though the Avenger team dissolved, Abreu and Rocha were still best friends and training partners. Cyborg would go on to form his own team called Fight Sports.
He opened Fight Sports in Miami, Florida with the help of Vagner Rocha. As a team, the two began building one of the best competition teams within Jiu Jitsu.
Fight Sports began to get a lot of attention thanks to the names Rocha and Abreu had built for themselves as competitors.
Roberto went on to win at the No-Gi Worlds three years in a row and then gold in the ADCC absolute division. Wagner was a high level MMA fighter who fought in every major promotion, as well as in Jiu Jitsu competitions.
Their success in competitions gave Fight Sports a lot of exposure, which led to the gym growing rather quickly.
Fight Sports becomes an official BJJ affiliation
At first, Fight Sports was just one school located in Miami, the school would see drastic growth from early on. Wagner Rocha would go on to open his own Fight Sports affiliate school a few years after the Miami-based HQ opened.
Then soon after that Fight Sports affiliate school began popping up all over, at first just in Florida and then all around the US. Before they knew it, there were Fight Sports schools on four continents and over thirty schools worldwide. Fight Sports had become an internationally known Jiu Jitsu affiliation.
Young Fight Sports competitors performances at the 2022 ADCC Trials in Brazil
For the last decade, Fight Sports has been known for producing some talented grapplers. But this year may have been the team’s coming out party as one of the world’s most successful BJJ teams.
At the 2022 ADCC Trials in Brazil, Fight Sports proved that they’ve been developing champions for the next generation. Members of the team put on an all time great performance at an ADCC Trials event.
Fights Sports had not one, but four different athletes win and qualify for the 2022 ADCC Championship. This is the first time in ADCC history that a single Jiu Jitsu team had that many competitors qualify for the tournament.
Fight Sports Jiu Jitsu’s Top Competitors
Roberto “Cyborg” Abreu
The leader of Fight Sports, Roberto “Cyborg” Abreu is one of the most decorated BJJ competitors in history. A winner of six No-Gi World Championships and one ADCC gold medal. Just like Abreu himself, he has helped lead his students at Fight Sports to become champions.
Vagner Rocha has done it all from MMA, BJJ, and Combat Jiu Jitsu. Rocha has won at the highest level in all of these combat sports and is also a highly regarded coach.
At 20 years old, Diego Reis is part of the next generation of Fight Sports competitors. Reis had one of his best performances at the ADCC trials in Brazil to qualify for the championship tournament.
Galvao has only been a black belt for about a year and is already considered one of the world’s best. Micael had already competed at the highest levels in Jiu Jitsu as a teenager before getting his black belt.
He put on one of the best performances of his career at the ADCC Trials in Brazil. Submitting all four of his opponents, which included Magid Hage in the finals.
Joao Costa has been a black belt for only a year under Cyborg Abreu, but is already putting on great performances. Costa would also qualify for the ADCC Championship by winning this year’s Brazilian trials in his first attempt.
The former professional volleyball player turned pro BJJ Roosevelt Sousa also had a career performance at the ADCC trial event. Just like his teammate Galvao, Sousa would submit all four of his opponents to earn a spot at the ADCC Championship
Controversy: Sexual assault & rape allegations
This isn’t a comfortable subject to talk about, but it’s one we have to address if we’re talking about Fight Sports. The affiliation has been at the center of an ongoing sexual assault case involving former Fight Sports black belt Marcel Goncalves.
Goncalves was arrested for having a relationship with a sixteen year old student, who he had taught for years. The victim confessed to a friend and the friend told the victim’s father, which kicked off this saga.
There are multiple chapters to this story that were made worse by incredibly poor decisions from the affiliation’s leaders (particularly Cyborg).
In 2018, Marcel Goncalves was arrested for allegations of a sexual relationship with a minor. When the police apprehended Marcel, he confessed to everything.
Little action taken by Fight Sports
After the Goncalves arrest, Cyborg released this statement:
Sexual assault can never be tolerated. This week we learned of horrifying news about an individual who used to represent Fight Sports at one of our affiliate gyms. The actions of this individual do not reflect what I stand for and he will be held responsible for his actions. My heart breaks for the victim and her family. They know they have my full support. I ask that everyone give the victim and her family space and privacy, as they are going through something no one should ever have to experience.Roberto “Cyborg” Abreu
If this had been the end of the story there would be little controversy to report. Unfortunately, after this statement, multiple photos of Goncalves training at different Fight Sports functions and training at Fight Sport affiliate schools surfaced. Also, he allegedly was still working at Wagner Rocha’s Fight Sport school after his arrest.
Although Rocha has disputed this claim, he admits that he allowed Goncalves’ wife and daughter to train there. Rocha has stated that Marcel never coached any classes there.
Tex Johnson’s incident with Goncalves
As on February 8th, 2021, Marcel was apparently still training at Wagner Rocha’s school. On this day, former affiliate member Tex Johnson visited the gym to train.
Johnson would get into an altercation with Gonclaves after a possible intentional eye poke. Wagner Rocha claims that he kicked both men out of the gym after that event.
Tex would leave the Fight Sports affiliation after this incident, and stated he didn’t know about the allegations until after leaving. He also confirmed that this wasn’t the first time he saw Marcel at Rocha’s academy.
Keith Rummel forced out of Fight Sports by Cyborg
During the time of Goncalves’ arrest he was coaching at the former Fight Sports affiliate school in Naples, Florida. Keith Rummel, the owner and operator of the school, was present for Goncalves’ arrest.
Cyborg scheduled a meeting with Rummel soon after the arrest. At the meeting, Cyborg asked Rommel if he wanted his school to remain an affiliate and Rummel said yes.
Cyborg then asked that Rummel give Goncalves $35 thousand dollars as an ownership buyout in order to keep the Fight Sports name. Rummel refused, citing no contractual obligation to do so, and parted ways with Fight Sports.
Goncalves pleads insanity
Marcel Gonclaves has since pleaded insanity in his sexual assault case, claiming that he suffers from CTE which led to him making bad decisions.
Other sexual assault allegations arise
During the Goncalves fiasco, two more sexual assault allegations surfaced against members of Fight Sport. One involving a competitor named Mandy Schneider, who alleges assault against Abreu black belt, Rodrigo da Costa Oliveira, and another accuser that wishes to remain anonymous.
Fight Sports attempts to make things right
The lack of action by the leadership at Fight Sport is inexcusable and made a bad situation even worse. Even Cyborg himself has admitted that he could’ve handled the situation better and handled it badly.
Cyborg is now attempting to make amends for what happened to the victims and taking steps to be more accountable. His first action was to strip Marcelo Goncalves of his black belt and give him a lifetime ban. The other alleged predators have also been excommunicated from the academy.
A review board for assault allegations was also established at Fight Sports consisting of attorneys, law enforcement, and psychologists.
Credit to Mo Jassim
Credit must be given to Mo Jassim, the head organizer of ADCC, who held Fight Sports accountable during these events. Jassim was the only head of a major BJJ competition organization that pressured Fight Sports during these events.
Thanks to the public pressure that Jassim put on the affiliation, they admitted to their errors and attempted to correct them.
FAQs about Fight Sports
Who founded Fight Sports?
Fight Sports was founded by multiple time world champion Roberto “Cyborg” Abreu.
Where is Fight Sports headquartered?
Fight Sports HQ is headquartered in Miami, Florida.
When was Fight Sports founded?
Fight Sports was founded in 2011.
How many Fight Sports schools are there?
As of now, there are 32 Fight Sports academies on 4 continents and the number is growing.
Fight Sports today
Even though Fight Sports has been plagued by numerous incidents of sexual assault, they’ve still produced elite level BJJ athletes. The incidents that happened in Fight Sports have not only left them with a black eye, but have shed harsh light on the entire BJJ community.
Hopefully the leadership of the team has learned from their mistakes and can create a safe environment for their students – because there are too many talented grapplers and good people there to have their reputation ruined by a few people.
If you, or someone you know, has been the victim of sexual assault, please contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline +1(800)656-4673. Visit RAINN.org for more information on helping survivors of sexual violence, or for additional resources on where to get help.