1996 was the inaugural year of the BJJ world championship and it exposed some of its greatest champions of all time, such as Royler Gracie, Fabio Gurgel, Ricardo Liborio and Mario Sperry. The 1997 worlds added Robson Moura, Saulo Ribeiro, Joao Roque and Marcio Feitosa to the mix. But for both those years, Bitteti was able to conquer the absolute title, even though he didn’t win his own division in neither of those years. Amaury trained at the Carlson Gracie academy, a legendary school that produced some of the greatest champions of all time – namely Ricardo De La Riva, Andre Pederneiras, Murilo Bustamante and many other famous names, the list is massive. Bitteti was always seen as a phenom, even as a teenager, and he started competing in the black belt adult division at the age of seventeen. Bitteti’s legacy is forever secured as not only the first absolute champion, but the first two time absolute champion as well.
Another member of the legendary Carlson Gracie team – Mario Sperry is one of the more famous names on this list due to his MMA career in Japan and being one of the head coaches of the Brazilian Top Team. The 1998 world championship exposed new champions like Leo Vieira and Roberto Travern, but Mario Sperry was the one to stand out that year. Amongst his list of prestigious titles, Mario Sperry was also known as the king of ADCC for a long time, with battles against no-gi monsters like Mark Kerr. Sperry’s ADCC streak continued until he eventually lost to a young Roger Gracie. Lastly, Mario is known as the first guy to tap Royler Gracie, who was pound-for-pound one of the best BJJ fighters at the time. Royler was much smaller than his absolute opposition and was able to win and make it through many giants. Eddie Bravo is the only other BJJ athlete to accomplish this years later.
More commonly known as “Comprido”, meaning “lanky” in Portuguese. Medeiros is one of the funnier and livelier competitors in the old school BJJ scene with his colored hair and joking around. He is a black belt under the prestigious Romero Cavalcanti of Alliance – however Comprido is part of the Brasa team today along with his teammate Felipe Costa. In his years as reigning absolute champ, the mundial produced new champions such as Leo Leite, Vitor Ribeiro and BJ Penn. Comprido’s most recent major title was at the Pan Ams in 2009 in the masters division.
More popularly known as “Margarida”, Fernando Pontes is a two-time world champion and during the year of his reign as absolute champion, we saw Ricardo Vieira win his own weight division at black belt. All the other champions that year were the same as in 2000. Margarida received his nickname from Fabio Gurgel when he came to the academy with colored elastic bands for his braces during the carnival season. Margarida means “daisy” in Portuguese. Although he had trained with Fabio Gurgel, Pontes eventually received his black belt from Roberto Godoi, an avid competitor in his own right.