Grappling Bulletin: Is Victor Hugo The Next Big Thing?
Grappling Bulletin: Is Victor Hugo The Next Big Thing?
23 years of age, 258lb, and already taking names. Victor Hugo could be the next big thing at black belt. PLUS Gracie Barra have got a new secret weapon.
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Twenty-three years of age. A mighty 258lbs. A World champion both gi and no-gi at purple and brown belt. Crowned the 2019 IBJJF World No-Gi champion as a black belt. Submission wins over Fellipe Andrew, Roberto Cyborg, and Tex Johnson. The No. 2-ranked ultra-heavyweight, and No. 4-ranked pound-for-pound black belt in the world.
Victor Hugo Marques could be the next big thing at black belt.
Let's talk for a minute about Victor Hugo's short but fruitful run as a black belt. He was promoted after winning Worlds in 2019 as a brown belt, and since then he's inserted himself into the upper echelons of the big boys division.
He's scored wins over the daunting Ricardo Evangelista (twice), climbed his way up the ladder by taking out the likes of Felipe Bezerra, Helton Junior, Jared Dopp, and Dany Gerard, and most recently impressed spectators with significant wins over Roberto Cyborg, Vinicius Trator, Nicholas Meregali, and Fellipe Andrew.
WATCH: Victor Hugo vs Fellipe Andrew Fight to Win 143
It hasn't all been smooth sailing for Victor; it's important to note that he's had opportunities to take on the biggest names in the game and has so far come up short. Cyborg was able to beat him twice (once gi, once no-gi) before Victor was able to tap him with a kneebar in the World No-Gi absolute final. Buchecha shut him down in the second round of ADCC, winning via guard pass. And he's lost via points to undersized opponents Meregali, Patrick Gaudio, and even Adam Wardzinski.
But all these defeats have contributed to Victor Hugo's increased presence on the circuit. He learns from the losses, fixes his mistakes and comes back better.
Victor recently decamped from San Diego to Oklahoma City for an extended training camp at Lovato Junior's brand-spanking-new jiu-jitsu gym. He gets to roll with Lovato daily, and Xande Ribeiro has joined in the fun as the three 6 Blades athletes prepare for their June Fight to Win takeover.
Hugo started things off with a bang by submitting Fellipe Andrew in less than 90 seconds. Friday June 19, Lovato Jr. will take on Atos star Lucas "Hulk" Barbosa, and the following week on June 26 Xande returns to competition for the first time in nearly two years to face Gabriel Almeida of Checkmat.
And Victor Hugo isn't stopping there. On Saturday, June 20 he'll enter the Third Coast Grappling heavyweight Kumite, which features eight highly dangerous grapplers in a one-night tournament. His first match? The towering veteran Evangelista. They have faced off a total of three times, and it's 2-1 in favor of the youngster.
The bracket this weekend could place him against Fellipe Andrew once again in the final, although that is for from guaranteed as both sides of the bracket look highly competitive. It's a mix of wildcards and dark horses. One possible scenario is that Victor Hugo faces Jonnatas Gracie in the second round – they have met three times in the colored belt ranks, in 2017, 2018, and 2019. Remarkably, Jonnatas was able to win one of those encounters, all the way back at purple belt in 2017.
Victor Hugo's black belt journey is just beginning, but mark my words: he's going to have a major impact at the ultra-heavyweight division for years to come.
COMING SOON: Third Coast Grappling: KUMITE II | Jun 20
Featuring an 8-man +180lbs tournament, with Fellipe Andrew, Tanner Rice, Ricardo Evangelista, Victor Hugo and more.
Gracie Barra Have Got Their Own Next Big Thing
And his name is Pedro Marinho.
Winner of the stacked Jitzking 16-man middleweight tournament, Marinho stormed to first place with wins over David Garmo, Jason Rau, Roberto Jimenez, and Oliver Taza.
The Gracie Barra brown belt, who trains in Houston with Ulpiano Malachias, has been steadily building a name for himself but this is by far his most significant win.
Marinho qualified for the KASAI 185lb tournament in 2019 as a purple belt. He beat future ADCC silver medalist Vinicius Trator in the qualifier, and then went to a draw with Craig Jones in the tournament. He was an alternate for ADCC and received a last-minute call-up, losing to Gordon Ryan. Marinho won his weight division as a brown belt at No-Gi Worlds, and took absolute gold at Pan No-Gi a few months previous.
The kid has talent; that was no secret. But he got to show it off in style at Jitzking. Aside from being handed the check for 5 G's, the biggest moment of his run was when he heel hooked Roberto Jimenez. Let's not forget that he and Jimenez are no strangers – they've gone back and forth both gi and no-gi, with Jimenez winning most recently just a week prior to Jitzking by armbar submission in the gi. Marinho obviously couldn't wait to repay the favor, and cranked on a heel hook for the win.
Something we should pay attention to is that Marinho beat two notable Renzo Gracie team members in Jason Rau and Oliver Taza. Both are known to be highly proficient leg lockers, and while they may not from the "senior" group of Danaher students they are right there next to the big names soaking up al that technical goodness. For Marinho to avoid the deadly leg attacks and even show off one of his own is no small thing.
- Pedro Marinho vs David Garmo
- Pedro Marinho vs Jason Rau
- Pedro Marinho vs Roberto Jimenez
- Pedro Marinho vs Oliver Taza
Upcoming Live Events on FloGrappling
We've got live events lined up every week for the foreseeable future. Here is what's coming up:
Fight to Win 144 | Jun 19
Featuring Rafael Lovato Jr. vs Lucas "Hulk" Barbosa, Talita Alencar vs Nathalie Ribeiro and Edwin Najmi vs Jonatas Gracie.
Third Coast Grappling: KUMITE II | Jun 20
Featuring an 8-man +180lbs tournament, with Fellipe Andrew, Tanner Rice, Ricardo Evangelista, Victor Hugo, and more.
Fight to Win 145 | Jun 26
Featuring Garry Tonon vs Marcio Andre, and the return of an IBJJF Hall of Famer and ADCC legend Xande Ribeiro.
Third Coast Grappling: KUMITE III | Jun 27
3CG will run an 180lbs and under eight-man grand prix. Confirmed names include Dante Leon, Johnny Tama, John Combs, Tye Ruotolo, Kody Steele, Vagner Rocha, Pierre LeClerc, and Roberto Jimenez.
ICYMI: The Best of FloGrappling
Just because we've got live events back doesn't mean we're putting the brakes on. We're still pumping out studio shows featuring a diverse range of expert analysts, high-level competitors, and more. Check out what came out last week.
Baleia's Breakdown Ep.1: Rafael Lovato Jr.
We've got a brand new show on FloGrappling featuring our resident BJJ black belt, historian and expert analyst Riccardo Ammendolia. Check out episode one of Baleia's Breakdown featuring Rafael Lovato Jr. as they watch back some old school matches.
Match Rewind: 3CG Kumite
Mikey, Tommy, and Michael watch the entertaining 3CG 180lbs Kumite and give their take on this exciting gi tournament.
Into The Wormhole With Keenan Cornelius | Ep. 5
Watch Keenan Cornelius analyze Nicky Ryan vs Tye Ruotolo from Who's Number One and Gustavo Batista vs Gabriel Arges from the 3CG Kumite.
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