Friday, 28 March 2014

Marcelo Garcia vs. Rafael Mendes - The Dream Match

If I could think of one grappling match I would love to see, it would probably be this one. In a way it’s kind of cliché, in the sense of old school vs new school, the previous generation vs the current generation. But if this match could take place, in my opinion, it could potentially one of the greatest of all time.

Marcelo Garcia
Marcelo Garcia is widely considered by many to be one of the best pound for pound grapplers in the world today. He has won five world championships at the black belt level in the middleweight (-82kg) division, and has also won the 66–76 kg division four times at the prestigious ADCC tournament.

Marcelo is very well rounded in terms of his grappling ability; he is excellent both on his back and on his feet. In particular Marcelo is best known for his x-guard, butterfly guard and guillotine choke. What's good about Marcelo is he always hunts for the submission, he doesn't play to win by points or advantages, he looks to finish the fight and submit his opponent.

Rafael Mendes
Rafael Mendes is one of BJJ's new generation. Since his late teens he has been considered to be one of the biggest up and coming stars to hit the BJJ scene. At the age of 24, he has already won three world title as a black belt, and two ADCC titles. Rafael is notorious for his style of jiu jitsu, this being mostly focused around modern jiu jitsu techniques such as the berimbolo and 50/50 guard, which he uses frequently throughout his matches. Rafael gained considerable notoriety by defeating Rubens "Cobrinha" Charles at the 2009 ADCC final, who at the time was the current world champion and considered to be one of the best pound for pound grapplers in the world.

Rafael Menes is always an exciting fighter to watch, he is a very technical fighter and always looks to take the back of his opponent, most of the time via the berimbolo. He is very comfortable on bottom and on top, his guard seems to be pretty much impossible to pass and his attacks from the guard are very strong, probably the overall best guard in BJJ.

On the other side of that, his top game and passing is also very good, most notably using the leg drag pass to pass his opponents guard. In the 2014 Europeans, Rafael passed the guard of Paulo Miyao, a guard which no man has been able to pass, with the exception of Keenan Cornelius.

Rafael Mendes against Paulo Miyao at the 2014 Europeans

I guess what makes this match in particular so exciting is that Rafael Mendes is arguably the pound for pound best of the modern era, and Marcelo was the pound for pound best previously, so it’s basically a match to see who really the best is. Rafael went unbeaten for over 3 years in competition before finally being beaten by Augusto "Tanquinho" Mendes in the final of the featherweight division of the 2013 mundials, but still nobody has been able to submit him in years.

On the other hand, Marcelo hasn't been defeated in competition since 2009, which was against Braulio Estima in the absolute division of the ADCC that year. Although it must be said that Marcelo hasn't competed since ADCC 2011, so ring rust could potentially be a factor in the match. Although, I don't think it play that much of a role in the match itself.  

Another reason is simply the match up of styles is very good. On one hand you have Rafael Mendes who likes to use lots of modern techniques such as the berimbolo. On the other hand you have Marcelo, who doesn't really do anything super flashy, but his jiu jitsu is super-efficient. The real question I would like to know could Marcelo prevent the berimbolo of Mendes? Or could he potentially pass his guard? That is something in particular we have never seen before. I will even go one step further and say could he submit Mendes? Possibly with a guillotine?

Marcelo Garcia sets up a guillotine choke on Victor Estima at ADCC 2011

You could potentially argue that the weight difference might also be a factor, but Marcelo is pretty small for a middleweight, so I can’t really see that making an impact.

On paper this should be a GREAT match, but most often that doesn't work out all of the time, after all a fight is between two people. Take the most recent match between Andre Galvao and Leandro Lo at the absolute final of the 2014 Pan Ams. Now in theory this should be a great match. Both of these fighters are very aggressive, like to go for the submission etc. But in reality the match in my opinion from a spectator’s point of view was awful! It was pretty much a 10 minute stall fest. Now I'm not saying that would happen in this particular matchup, but who knows.

Now where could this match take place? Well straight off the bat the obvious choice is Metamoris, but again it’s if both fighters are happy with the match up, it’s under the right conditions etc. Actually, I saw a post on Facebook a few months back from somebody saying that Marcelo wouldn't be interested in doing a match for Metamoris, which is his own choice, and that's fine, if he doesn't want to do it, then nobody should force him.

I'm pretty sure I'm not the only person who would love to see this dream matchup. Personally, I think this is the BJJ equivalent of Anderson Silva vs GSP, it’s just something that people would really like to see.  

I hope you guys enjoyed this article!

Catch you later,



  1. The best id like to see would be roger Gracie vs buchecha (2) where both fighters are healthy- as roger was Ill in the last. Next would be jacare vs Rodolfo Vieira that would be amazing then I'll b Rafa v Marcelo. So the best of the last era vs the best of the modern era

  2. marcelo garcia by choke for sure

  3. I say watch Mendes vs Ryan Hall, and then watch Marcelo roll with Ryan Hall... I think you'll get your answer...

    1. If only it were so simple.. BJJ isn't all mathematics.. anything can happen in a fight

    2. If only it were so simple.. BJJ isn't all mathematics.. anything can happen in a fight