Photo Essay: The Real Experience Of Training At Unity Jiu-Jitsu

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Purple belt Devhonte Johnson of Unity Jiu-Jitsu is one of the top picks to win at IBJJF 2017 Pans. The 23-year-old competitor is a very recognizable face from the competition scene. 

Johnson is from Paterson, New Jersey and takes the trip into Manhattan to train at Unity Jiu-Jitsu under the guidance of Murilo Santana and alongside the Miyao brothers and many other top competitors.

In this exclusive photo essay, photographer Michael Sears followed and interviewed Johnson to find out what it's like to be part of one of the top American teams. 

Listen to Devhonte's experience of training at Unity Jiu-Jitsu and being the 'East Coast' guy at SoCal tournaments. 


All photos by Michael Sears


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Johnson travels on the train into Manhattan every day to go to Unity Jiu-Jitsu on East 37th Street. 


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Located on the second floor, the gym is one of the top training centers in the city. 


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The lunchtime competition team training sessions involve an hour of drilling before rolling begins. 


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The training is hard at Unity. The energy is kept high in the room, and everybody is urged to give their best. 


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Unity jiu-jitsu head coach Murilo Santana (seated, white gi top) runs the classes at the gym. 


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Johnson steps out into the city for a break between classes. 


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Back on the mat for the evening no-gi class, the temperature and humidity in the room are reminiscent of Brazil. 


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After training the team relax, chat, check social media and prepare to do it all again tomorrow. 


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Back at home in Patterson, New Jersey late at night. 


The Rising Stars Who Will Compete In The WNO: Jones vs Ronaldo Free Prelims

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Before Craig Jones vs Ronaldo Junior or Gordon Ryan vs Roberto Jimenez, four prospects will fight on the undercard of Who’s Number One on Friday, February 26. Those matches will be streamed live for free on the FloGrappling Facebook and YouTube channels, and will feature four hungry and exciting competitors.

The Grappler Without Fear: Roberto Jimenez Will Face Anyone

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Roberto Jimenez lives by a code. Based on his words, and expressed through his jiu-jitsu, one of the tenets of that code is to let his jiu-jitsu flow.

Based on his actions, another tenet is never to refuse a challenge.

Roberto "Cyborg" Abreu and Roberto Jimenez

5 Must-Watch Matches From Roberto Jimenez

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Perhaps above all things, Roberto Jimenez is known for engaging in dynamic and compelling matches; his only goals: self-expression and the submission.  

Lis Clay Set For First Black Belt Gi Match vs Maria Malyjasiak At F2W 165

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Fight To Win will close out its three-week stint in Dallas with an all-female card. Fight to Win 165 on Saturday, February 27 will be the second ever card featuring women, only; continuing the promotion’s pattern. Fight to Win has scheduled its third all-female event for the third weekend in March in Austin, TX. 

Grappling Bulletin: Lauded by Joe Rogan, Vagner Is On An Unstoppable Run

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Vagner Rocha has been on a tear and though he brings out the haters every time he competes he has fans in high places, including none other than Joe Rogan.

Betting Lines Released For Who's Number One: Craig Jones Vs Ronaldo Junior

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The online betting site BetDSI has released money lines for Who’s Number One: Craig Jones vs Ronaldo Junior.

Revisiting Junny's Unlikely Black Belt Debut vs Geo Martinez

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Edwin "Junny" Ocasio and Geo Martinez had completely different paths to their first encounter at the KASAI Pro 6 Bantamweight tournament in August 2019.

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Vagner Rocha Takes On Two-Time ADCC Champ Yuri Simoes at Fight to Win 164

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Fight to Win will see two no-gi grappling titans face off on Friday, February 19, 2021 as Vagner Rocha moves up in weight to take on two-time ADCC champion Yuri Simoes in the main event of Fight to Win 164. 

WNO: Craig Jones vs Ronaldo Junior Official Event Preview

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Who's Number One (WNO) is back with another stacked card on February 26th, with WNO: Craig Jones vs Ronaldo Junior. The action will kick off at 8:00 ET, with two free prelim matches streamed on the FloSports app, Facebook and Youtube. WNO always brings together the best no-gi talent in the world, and this event is no exception.

Grappling Bulletin: UFC 258 Was Not A Good Night For Jiu-Jitsu

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Grappling fans would have found UFC 258 hard to watch as two of jiu-jitsu's top representatives in the Octagon fell to their opponents. We look at what went wrong.