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Mario Sperry Bio

José Mário Sperry (born September 28, 1966) is a Brazilian heavyweight mixed martial artist. His specialty is Brazilian jiu-jitsu, grappling and ground fighting. He is also one of the founders of the Brazilian Top Team, where he trained fighters such as Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira, Antônio Rogério Nogueira, Ricardo Arona, and Paulo Filho, among others.


  • 1 Career
    • 1.1 PRIDE
  • 2 Personal life
  • 3 Championships and accomplishments
    • 3.1 Grappling
    • 3.2 Mixed Martial Arts
  • 4 Mixed martial arts record
  • 5 Submission grappling record
  • 6 Notable students
  • 7 References
  • 8 External links


Born in a wealthy family and coming from a military college, where he practised sports like waterpolo, volleyball, soccer and hammer throwing, Sperry started his martial arts career learning judo under master Georges Mehdi. At brown belt level, he expanded his training to Brazilian jiu-jitsu with Carlson Gracie, becoming one of his main apprentices. Mario earned his black belt in this art at the 1995 World BJJ Championships, where he entered to win the heavyweight black belt division, and it was popularly said that until that point he had not lost a single point in his earlier competition career. He gained the nickname "Zé Maquina" ("José Machine") for his relentless performance, which later changed to "Zen Machine" in his introduction to United States.

Having had his mixed martial arts debut in 1995, Sperry debuted in United States as part of the Extreme Fighting event, where he was billed as having a 272-0 fight record. The first round of the tournament saw him face Ecuatorian fighter and Ultimate Fighting Championship runner-up Rudyard Moncayo, whom Sperry defeated by ground and pound, but the second one would see a different outcome against Russian kickboxing and sambo specialist Igor Zinoviev. Though Sperry was able to take him down and assume dominant position in several occasions, Zinoviev kept escaping to his feet every time. After ten minutes, Sperry tried to leap into a rear naked choke while Zinoviev was giving his back and holding the fence, but he slipped and fell in front of the Russian, receiving a kick to the face. Mario took Zinoviev down anyways, but the kick had opened a deep cut, so the match was stopped to give the win to Igor.

At the world BJJ championships in 1998, after winning the title for three consecutive years, Sperry became the first fighter in history to make a Gracie submit in a match when he defeated Royler Gracie in Brazil by koshi-jime or "clock choke".


In 2001, Sperry debuted in Pride Fighting Championships, where the Brazilian Top Team was competing. His first match would be an important victory against aging fighter Igor Vovchanchyn, who was taken down and submitted by arm triangle choke by the Brazilian fighter. He then went to fought Murilo Rua from Chute Boxe, a team that would get in a rivalry with BTT after this match. Beginning the fight, Rua landed multiple hits in Sperry both standing and on the ground, but the jiu-jitsu champion countered with a triangle armbar attempt and tried to get position; however, Rua escaped and landed more strikes, including a soccer kick to the face. At the second round, Sperry came near of the finish with a rolling kneebar and a Kimura lock, but Murilo was able to avoid them and threw several knees to the head. Finally, Rua punished Sperry for most of the third round for a unanimous decision.

Mario rebounded back from his loss by defeating Russian Top Tean's counterpart Andrei Kopylov, a former world sambo champion. As Kopylov played defensive on the mat, Sperry threw kicks and strikes, cutting him in the mouth for a doctor stoppage while Kopylov was trying a kneebar. Later, in PRIDE Shockwave 2003, Mario faced Pancrase's rising star Yuki Kondo in a back and forth match. They exchanged leglocks on the mat, and later Sperry scored a spectacular takedown, but damage to his eye caused by earlier punches forced the referee to stop the bout.

In 2004, Sperry returned to PRIDE as part of the PRIDE Bushido series, where he knocked out Mike Bencic with a single punch. The next year, he fought judoka Hirotaka Yokoi in a one-sided affair, with Sperry punishing a turtled up Yokoi with knees and soccer kicks for the win. Mario's last fight in the promotion would be against Yokoi's trainer, the renowned Tsuyoshi "TK" Kohsaka, in 2006. The bout was short, with the two fighters trading punches before Kohsaka landed a right hand for the KO.

Personal life

Mario has a daughter who was born in March 2005. Sperry is also an avid competitive surfer. Aside from his fighting career, he has a degree in economics.

Championships and accomplishments


  • ADCC World Submission Wrestling Championships
    • 2013: Superfight championship: defeated Fabio Gurgel
    • 2011: Superfight championship: defeated Renzo Gracie
    • 2000: Superfight championship: defeated Roberto Traven
    • 1999: Superfight championship: defeated Enson Inoue
    • 1998: 88–98kg: 1st place, Absolute: 1st place
  • CBJJ World Championships
    • 1999: Black Belt Absolute: =3rd place, Black Belt Super Pesado = 2nd place
    • 1998: Black Belt Absolute: =1st place
    • 1997: Black Belt Super-Pesado: 1st place, Black Belt Absolute: =3rd place
    • 1996: Black Belt Pesadissimo: 1st place
    • Voted Best Purple Belt in Brazil in 1990.
    • Voted Best Brown Belt in Brazil in 1992.
  • Other
    • Black Belt World Mundial Champion 1996, 1997, and 1998.
    • Brazilian National Black Belt Heavyweight Champion 1994 and 1995.

Mixed Martial Arts

  • Coliseum 2000
    • Coliseum 2000 Heavyweight Championship (1 Time)
  • Extreme Fighting
    • Extreme Fighting Middleweight Tournament Runner Up
  • Martial Arts Reality Super Fight
    • Martial Arts Reality Super Fight Championship (1 Time)
  • Ultimate Caged Combat
    • 1997 Ultimate Caged Combat Overall Championship Tournament Winner
  • Other
    • Vale Tudo Super Fight Champion at the Titanic Duel in Brazil 1995

Mixed martial arts record

Submission grappling record

Notable students

  • Carlão Santos
  • Marcello Salazar

External links

  • Official website
  • Professional MMA record for Mário Sperry from Sherdog

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