Andre Galvao: The Legacy of a Living Legend

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Andre Galvao is one of the greatest grapplers Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has ever seen. He is considered one of the best in all of ADCC’s 23-year history. A world-renowned athlete, reputable coach, and well-respected influencer, his accomplishments in the sport are nothing short of legendary. He’s also an esteemed mixed martial artist, bagging five career victories within just two years.

Andre Galvao’s Humble Beginnings

Andre Luiz Galvao was born on September 29, 1982, in São Paulo, Brazil.  He started his martial arts journey by training Judo. ADCC champion Claudio Calasans’s dad, Calasans Camargo was his Judo sensei. Not only did Calasans give Galvao free training as his coach, but he also gave him his very first gi as part of his social project in their neighborhood. 

Calasans Camargo is a Judo personality himself and is the youngest Brazilian Judoka to be awarded a coral belt. Calasans was instrumental to Galvao’s Judo training; later on, it was his son Claudio Calasans who would join Galvao’s very own Jiu-Jitsu team. He was two to three months into training Judo he started to also train Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu – a sport he would later on love with a passion.

Andre Galvao started training Jiu-Jitsu under Luis Carlos “Careca” Dagmar, thanks to his brother who was, then, a blue belt in the sport. Carlos Galvao, who was one of the best Jiu-Jitsu practitioners in his division in the area, showed Andre a VHS tape of some footage of BJJ tournaments, as well as the very first UFC. This piqued his interest until Andre Galvao found himself learning more about the Gracie family and BJJ. 

When he trained in Judo thrice a week, he focused on working his ground game. Twice a week he trained in BJJ. He began competing in both sports, excelled, and got hooked. 

When he was 14, he needed to stop training to focus on getting a job and supporting his family. He was already two years into training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and he had to step away for close to three years. This is not to say he fell out of love with the sport. On the contrary, he dreamed of going back to training every day! 

There were many things he loved about the sport. He enjoyed the training, all the fun and laughter, and the company of his friends. Galvao loved how he’d learn new things in class. He embraced the Jiu-Jitsu lifestyle.

The whole time that he was outside the mats and doing what he didn’t like, he started to reflect on the things that he wanted to do in life, which was to be a great fighter, teacher, and person. It was then that he decided that Jiu-Jitsu would be his future. 

Andre Galvao wasn’t born with a silver spoon in his mouth, and his climb to BJJ superstardom was an uphill climb from the get-go. His dad was unemployed and his mom worked as a maid to provide for all six children. Galvao recalls that, while they did have financial struggles, they never had to struggle emotionally.

He would go to training without breakfast and not knowing whether or not he was having any lunch later. He remained positive and continued to train because he felt that this was his calling. He was lucky enough to have friends, which included his professor, who would buy him lunch after class. 

He later acquired sponsorship from VINAC, a major car dealership in his area. He got paid R$500 reais per month. VINAC also sponsored his travels and paid for his tournament registrations. 

Careca was quick to notice Galvao’s special talent for the sport and wanted his young Jiu-Jitsu athlete to grow and reach his full potential by going to a more competitive school. 

Galvao trained in Rio de Janeiro for a year to further polish his game. The gym was in a business building that closed during the weekend, so he’d end up staying in the gym from Saturday at 1 pm until Monday at 7 in the morning. 

The Rise of Andre Galvao

It was when he trained under Fernando Tererê that his game started to accelerate. Tererê is a BJJ champion and is known as one of the best in the world. Through consistent training and competing, Galvao soon after became the first purple belt to ever go home with the IBJJF Grand Slam title after winning the Pan American Championship, World Championship, and Brazilian Nationals. Galvao was undefeated for almost three years in the purple belt division.

After nine months as a purple belt, Fernando Terere awarded him his brown belt. His winning streak continued in this division, and he only experienced one loss. That was when he was fighting in the absolute division of the Copa do Brasil against Ricardo Abreu.

Unfortunately, right around the time when Galvao was due to receive his black belt, Terere dealt with some issues that made him leave his TT team and the sport altogether. Eduardo Telles, who took Galvao to Careca’s gym to receive his postponed black belt promotion there, with his first BJJ coach and original teammates to celebrate the event.  

Galvao left TT team and joined Brasa Clube de Jiu-Jitsu. He dedicated his time to training and fighting in all competitions, not just the major ones. This helped him hone his skills even faster.

From 2002 to 2005, from blue belt to black belt, Galvao would win four straight World Championships. In 2003 and 2004, he bagged gold in both his weight class and in the absolutes in the purple and brown belt divisions. 

While he didn’t go home with the gold in 2006 and 2007, he made an awesome comeback in 2008. In that same year, he also debuted in the MMA, delivering a devastating armbar submission against former Strikeforce fighter Jeremiah Metcalf. 

In October 2008, he and his good friend Ramon Lemos, who he met while training under the Brasa academy,  started their very own Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Team that would become one of the most successful BJJ teams in the world today: Atos Jiu-Jitsu.

The Birth of Atos Jiu-Jitsu

Atos is Portuguese for Acts, taken after Acts of the Apostles book. The team’s origins are based in Brazil. In the short time since the team was formed, they started to make a name for themselves, especially with five Atos black belts delivering a podium finish in the World Jiu-Jitsu Championships. Guilherme Mendes became their first black belt champion. Atos Jiu-Jitsu became one of the leading light feather and featherweight teams across the globe.

Some of the biggest names in BJJ and MMA have trained in Atos, including Rafa and Gui Mendes, Rodrigo Caporal, Bruno Frazatto, Keenan Cornelius, Lucas “Hulk” Barbosa, Anderson Silva, and Carlos Diego. Among the techniques that the academy is known for are the leg drag guard pass, berimbolo, and the 50/50. 

Many things have happened from the time the team was established, and some of their esteemed black belts, such as Keenan Cornelius and the Mendes brothers have left the organization.

Andre Galvao’s Biggest Accomplishments

In 2008, Galvao competed in DREAM and Strikeforce. Because he had his sights on joining The Ultimate Fighter TV show, he left Strikeforce in 2010. His plans to join the reality TV show didn’t push through, though.

Andre Galvao got back to competing in BJJ in 2010, delivering astonishing submission finishes in all but one of his fights. On March 7, 2010, he won the Abu Dhabi Pro Trials in California; he succeeded in winning in the Pan Americans shortly after. 

In 2011, Galvao established himself as one of the greatest ADCC fighters after dominating his weight division and the open weight class in the world’s most prestigious grappling tourney.

All in all, Andre Galvao has garnered 157 wins, 73 of which were through submission. 

In 2018, Galvao announced his retirement from grappling competitions after a successful 13-year run and after essentially winning everything there is to win in the grappling space. He was 35 years old when he dropped the announcement, citing that he wanted to focus on expanding his team and coaching his students. True enough, under his care and tutelage, a lot of his students emerged victorious in World championships. Atos Jiu-Jitsu has also expanded to 20 countries. 

As it turns out, that wasn’t the end of his BJJ competitive journey, after all. Fans are ecstatic to know that Galvao is coming out of his retirement and returning to competitive Jiu-Jitsu, and, this time, to mixed martial arts as well!

Currently, people are highly anticipating a match-up between Andre Galvao and Gordon Ryan in the ADCC, most especially after news about Ryan slapping Galvao twice backstage at the Who’s Number One event went viral. What started as a verbal argument ended up in things getting physical. The captured video quickly circulated online, further hyping up the match-up between the two BJJ giants. 

Way before the heated exchange, Andre Galvao and Gordon Ryan have quite a history of taunts and jabs on social media, which is why the ADCC 2022 superfight is going to be one of the biggest fights to ever go down in ADCC history.

In case you’re wondering why this is such a big deal, Galvao and Ryan are considered to be among the top ADCC competitors. No one can predict how this fight goes down, as the two BJJ legends are head-to-head in terms of grappling mastery and experience.

Andre Galvao has won six ADCC titles – a feat that no other competitor has ever achieved. He is the only Jiu-Jitsu competitor who has won more than two ADCC superfights, having won a total of four superfights. He’s been on an impressive winning streak since 2009. 

Galvao joined the roster of double champions in 2011, after defeating his opponents both in the 88kg and absolute weight classes. In 2013, he walked away with the superfight championship title after submitting fellow double champion Braulio Estima via RNC. In 2015, he successfully defended the title against challenger Roberto ‘Cyborg’ Abreu.

It was simply one victory after another for the BJJ legend, as he proceeded to break the record for the number of superfight wins when he won against Claudio Calasans in 2017. His winning streak doesn’t end there; he won his fourth straight superfight title when he dominated his match against Felipe Pena in 2019. If he wins his 2022 superfight, it will be his fifth straight victory.

What’s Next for Andre Galvao?

After an 11-year hiatus and tons of new learnings in grappling, the BJJ legend returns to the cage to dominate the MMA and submission grappling domains. He signed with the ONE FC promotions this year.

It can be recalled that Galvao previously competed in the MMA with neither wrestling background nor ADCC World titles. Nevertheless, he still finished a 5-2-0 record back in the day. This time around, with his no-gi game on point, it’s going to be a different ball game altogether.

Andre Galvao squaring off with Gordon Ryan in ONE Championship would definitely make a huge draw among BJJ and MMA fans. This isn’t in the cards, yet, but it sure is one matchup that is hotly anticipated in the BJJ and MMA world.

Galvao said that he’s looking to fight in the ONE FC in February or March next year. The well-decorated BJJ and MMA fighter has been preparing for his ONE FC debut and has expressed excitement about his re-entry to the cage. 

Currently, Galvao is leading his team in actively promoting their app, the Atos BJJ OnDemand, which allows people across the globe to train daily wherever they can. He has been busy actively training and coaching his students as they compete in various Jiu-Jitsu competitions.  

Competitive Jiu-Jitsu and MMA have been Andre Galvao’s passion growing up. It’s hard to imagine BJJ with him retiring, so fans in both the BJJ and MMA realms are more than ecstatic for Andre Galvao’s comeback. There is definitely a lot to look forward to in the coming years for the BJJ superstar who started with such humble beginnings and rose among the ranks to join the elite legion of BJJ legends.


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