The Ups & Downs Of The Manaus Boys

Review: Baby Shark Becomes Megalodon "The Ups & Downs Of The Manaus Boys"

Review: Baby Shark Becomes Megalodon "The Ups & Downs Of The Manaus Boys"

From the Amazon rainforest to the top of the grappling world, Diogo Reis evolves before our eyes in the FloSports film "The Ups & Downs Of The Manaus Boys."

Mar 16, 2023 by Liam Stein
The Ups & Downs Of The Manaus Boys

The Ups & Downs of the Manaus Boys beautifully captivates the meteoric rise of Diogo Reis, Fabricio Andrey, and Mica Galvao under the tutelage of Melqui Galvao throughout the 2022 ADCC season, giving viewers a unique behind-the-scenes insight into the lives and training of Melqui’s premier students. 

The film's opening captures the landscape of Manaus, highlighting the unique tropical climate native to the jungle environment of Amazonia. Amid the wild and brutal climate is the Fight Sports Manaus academy, where Fabricio, Mica and Diogo work tirelessly to prepare for the 2022 ADCC South American Trials. Watching their training, the grit and dedication to jiu-jitsu that forges championship gold becomes apparent.

The film follows the Manaus superstar trio from the ADCC trials in Brazil — where they perform exceptionally — to Reis' gold-medal finish at the ADCC World Championship in Las Vegas.

Featuring an excellent soundtrack, the documentary's sound pairings powerfully underscore emotional moments, fully capturing the weight of the largest event in grappling history: the 2022 ADCC World Championships. 

Paired with low-pitched guitar riffs, mystery, and excitement builds when Demian Maia and Melqui Galvao speak on the boys' final preparations for ADCC Worlds. As the bouts commence at ADCC, string chords combine with intense scrambles to elevate the tension of each bout to enhance the tournament's high and low emotional swings.  

Diogo Reis evolves and matures significantly from the film's beginning, in preparation for ADCC trials, to winning the -66kg division at ADCC, transitioning from the "Baby Shark" to the "Megaladon." 

Before the trials, Reis appears as the Baby Shark: a carefree, fun-loving personality who jokingly complains about practice and having his massage canceled by coach Melqui. As Diogo takes each step towards realizing his ADCC gold medal, his maturity is exemplified on the mat as he continuously defeats the world's top grapplers. The pinnacle of Diogo's growth is illustrated at ADCC. With just over a year spent training no-gi, Diogo beat four of the world's best grapplers in succession, seemingly more confident in each bout. Upon winning the most prestigious tournament in grappling — rather than speak on what it means to win the title personally — Diogo thanks Melqui Galvao for helping him realize his dream and details the sacrifices Melqui has made to ensure his students can achieve greatness. At the pinnacle moment, Diogo shares the center mat with Melqui, who is in a rarely-seen emotional state. Both student and teacher, “father and son” can share in the glory of ADCC gold.

While much of the grappling world watched the story of the Manaus Boys unfold in real-time, we rarely see the lives of elite grapplers off the mats in this candid nature. Seeing the light-hearted nature of a typical young adult and the extreme professionalism Melqui Galvao's students possess was a delight. Hard rounds of grappling and wrestling are uplifted by jokes from Fabricio about hiding from warmups in the living quarters, and banter of Diogo taking his massages too seriously. Despite their youth, Reis, Andrey, and Mica Galvao accomplished an extraordinary feat, each qualifying for the ADCC World Championships in their first year of competing at the trials.

Athletes cannot achieve glory without struggle, and ”The Ups & Downs of the Manaus Boys” encapsulates this sentiment as shown through the journeys of Diogo Reis, Fabricio Andrey, and Mica Galvao on their quest for greatness.