2022 IBJJF FloGrappling Grand Prix

Success & Showmanship: Ronaldo Wants To Share The Beauty Of His Jiu-Jitsu

Success & Showmanship: Ronaldo Wants To Share The Beauty Of His Jiu-Jitsu

Despite a lack of hardware, Ronaldo Junior has been largely unbeaten at black belt, a fact he disregards compared to how he manifests his skills on the mat.

Oct 25, 2022 by Corey Stockton
Success & Showmanship: Ronaldo Wants To Share The Beauty Of His Jiu-Jitsu

Ronaldo Junior’s sole IBJJF Pans title doesn’t tell the full story.

Despite the third year black belt’s wanting mantle, he’s been almost untouchable in IBJJF gi competition throughout his career.

In 2019, the year he earned his black belt, Ronaldo went 11-1 on IBJJF mats, losing only to teammate Kaynan Duarte in the absolute division at the Marianas Open.

In 2020, the year he won his Pans gold, he went 22-1 in gi competition. Only Tommy Langaker stopped him from a perfect season, defeating him in the semis at Euros. That year, Ronaldo also went 4-0 in IBJJF no-gi matches, capturing a No-Gi Pans gold to echo his top gi accomplishment.

That year, Ronaldo was robbed of an opportunity to compete for a world title, as the COVID epidemic led the IBJJF to suspend the World Championships in 2020.

In 2021, the Atos black belt found a fitting opponent in his middleweight category. Ronaldo won his first six IBJJF matches on the year before losing a close battle against Mathias Luna at American Nationals. He collected four more victories before finally crossing paths with Tainan Dalpra in one of the most anticipated matches at Pans. Tainan and Ronaldo went head to head before a devastating knee injury put Ronaldo out of the match and on the sidelines for three months.

He returned at Worlds, winning his opening match before once again meeting his budding rival, Dalpra. Despite a back and forth scoring exchange, Dalpra snowballed his lead for an 8-4 victory. Until that moment, Ronaldo had not been outscored in a match. It was a valiant effort against the evental world champ Dalpra, who submitted 61% of his 31 opponents in IBJJF competition that year. Ronaldo finished the 2021 season 11-3 with seven submission victories.

Ronaldo went 8-2 through the first half of the 2022 season, losing to Dalpra in the semis at both Pans and Worlds, but smashing through all of his competition on the way there.

He has surged since Worlds. He’s 4-0 in his last four IBJJF matches, with submission wins in each of them. Add to that: a flawless run at EUG 4 to win a $10,000 grand prize, and a dominant run at the AJP Miami Grand Slam, where he outscored, among others, Manuel Ribamar.

In IBJJF competition this year, Ronaldo is 12-2. He crushed at Jiu-Jitsu Con — at heavyweight, no less — submitting each of his three opponents.

As it stands, Ronaldo’s black belt record is 56-7. Four of his losses have come to one opponent. Make no mistake about it, Ronaldo Junior is among the best of the best.

He’s the Kyle Dake to Dalpra’s Jordan Burroughs, the Phil Mickelson to Dalpra’s Tiger Woods.

Ronaldo says he’s not hung up on his lack of major IBJJF hardware. He’s assured that if he continues grinding in the tough room at Atos HQ in San Diego, and testing his skills in competition as he has done so often in the past three years, the medals will come in time. 

“I’ve been competing since I was 12 years old,” Ronaldo said. “So winning a gold medal, for me, is not what makes me happy. What makes me happy is to show everything that I have inside.”

Ever the showman, the “Human Highlight Reel” has made a career of seamlessly blending styles. He can play judo, he can wrestle, he has a stunning guard pull which always allows him to get his desired grips. When he gets those grips, he drowns his opponent with balancing tests, precise submission threats and tricky lapel play.

But he’s proven most dangerous as a top player. Ronaldo has some of the best multi-directional passing in jiu-jitsu today. He moves side to side, he changes speeds but never stops moving. He can fly over the guard for unexpected attacks, or overwhelm his opponent into conceding position. He chains innovative maneuvers with classics.


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Ronaldo takes risks, always with one goal in mind: to show the beauty of his jiu-jitsu.

“My style is about showing a lot of different techniques, showing the technology of jiu-jitsu, showing a bunch of different styles in one fight,” Ronaldo said.

This weekend, at the IBJJF FloGrappling Grand Prix, Ronaldo has the opportunity once again to show himself through his jiu-jitsu against three renowned medium heavyweight competitors.

“We as black belts are always waiting for opportunities like this to show who we are,” Ronaldo said. “This is going to be a big opportunity to show exactly who I am.”

He will be mixed in with 2017 world champ Isaque Bahiense, who was also the world silver medalist in 2022. He’ll share the bracket with 2020 European champ Manuel Ribamar, and with 2021 Pan champ Andre Porfirio.

Each of his three potential opponents offer substantial threats.

With $10,000 on the line for the winner, it would match Ronaldo’s largest ever championship purse. And Ronaldo said that while a win there could be the biggest success of his career, it depends entirely on the way in which he wins.

“If I put on a big show and my opponents bring the show and we all bring a big fight for everyone that’s watching and eventually I get the win, that would be the most special for me,” he said.

Ronald says he’s been motivated by the opportunity to inspire fans and fellow grapplers. And this event, with all of the attention it brings, is a chance for Ronaldo to stand out — not just to win, but to win in style — and to continue expressing himself to the world through the beauty of his style.

“I’ve been training so long, and now I’m getting to the level where I can show my jiu-jitsu for everybody, for the whole world and get recognized for that. It’s really special.”