Vagner Rocha – Ceará

Table of Contents

One of the most recognized BJJ competitors as well as a competitor that any opponent takes very seriously when facing is the one and only Vagner Rocha.

Vagner Rocha is a 3rd degree Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu blackbelt and a Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighter. He received his black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under Pablo Popovitch. A fan favourite, Vagner Rocha is a very well known competitor who has taken part in many high-level arenas such as the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), ADCC and the first EBI Combat Jiu-Jitsu Champion.  

Vagner Rocha had a great career in the lightweight division in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) and he has previously also competed in the featherweight and welterweight divisions in MMA as well. Vagner Rocha is the founder of the Vagner Rocha Martial Arts situated in the South Florida Region.

Vagner Rocha’s Early Years

Vagner Rocha was born on 6th June 1982 in Nova Friburgo in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. His fans also know Vagner Rocha as ‘Ceará’, which is the name of a state located in the North West of Brazil. Brazilians hailing from this state are often strongly built and rugged. However, you should note that Vagner Rocha did not come from the state of Ceara; but his trainer, Jorge Popovitch, gave Vagner the nickname as he resembled the native people from here due to his brute strength, this is why he has the nickname “Ceará.”

Vagner Rocha’s birthplace is Nova Friburgo, a hilly and mountainous region in Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro. When he was just 5 years old, his family moved to the United States in search of better living conditions and settled down at Fort Lauderdale in Florida.

When he was about seven years old, Vagner Rocha started taking up training classes in the Korean martial art of Taekwondo. Vagner spent about two years learning the techniques of Taekwondo and even acquired several belts. He eventually made his way to brown belt in Taekwondo in just two years, but he would lose his passion for learning martial arts and decided not to pursue it anymore. 

Vagner Rocha would not get back to martial arts or any other form of combat sports till he was about 18 years old.

Vagner Rocha BJJ
Vagner Rocha BJJ

Vagner Rocha’s BJJ and MMA Journey

His career as a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner took off when he was 18 years old, when he immediately fell in love with the sport after his first lesson. His interest peaked two years before he started training in Jiu-Jitsu when he visited his cousin in Brazil, who also trained in Jiu-Jitsu.

Being boys, the Vagner cousins would playfully fight each other while hanging out, but even when they were playing around, Vagner Rocha would be easily dominated by his cousin, who practised Jiu-Jitsu. This sparked a passion in Vagner Rocha to start training BJJ as well. However, his will to start training did not take off for another two years after his interest in the sport began.

In 2001, Vagner Rocha began his Jiu-Jitsu training under Jorge Popovitch. Vagner was nat able to train full time as he had started his own family and had to take care of his child and provide for the family by working other jobs. 

Vagner Rocha finally landed a decent job at a construction company which enabled him to schedule his training and better to dedicate a fair amount of time to Jiu-Jitsu while holding a job.

In the Popovitch family, both father (Jorge Popovitch) and his son (Pablo Popovitch) were fundamental in Vagner’s development in the art of Jiu-Jitsu combat. They were the ones who helped Vagner Rocha acquire all his belts in the sport. He finally earned his black belt in Jiu-Jitsu in December of 2007, at a dinner party with his team.

The following year, in 2008, The BJJ centre, a Jiu-Jitsu academy run by the Popovitch family, offered Vagner Rocha a job as a BJJ coach. He took up the job and learned how to coach and run a gym through the process. He left his job at the construction company and joined as a full-time coach at the BJJ centre.

Later in his career, Vagner would focus his training towards Mixed Martial Arts, for which he debuted in 2009. This eventually found him a spot at the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) in 2011, which is the top of the line competition in the world of combat. That same year, Vagner Rocha started his Vagner Rocha Martial Arts (VARMA).

The Avengers BJJ Team

It was in 2007 that Vagner Rocha met BJJ Phenom Roberto Abreu, otherwise known as Cyborg, and soon formed a strong partnership out of which Rocha was associated with Fight Sports. Fight Sports is a very well known combat academy in Florida.

Vagner Rocha met Roberto Abreu through various Jiu-Jitsu events they participated in as competitors and even fought each other in some of the competitions. They finally became acquainted when they faced each other in the arena at Copa America, another fighting championship competition. Both of them made it to the finals and became part of one of the most legendary fights in Copa America history. After the fight, they both earned mutual respect. After this, they always trained together and even formed an alliance out of which a powerful team was formed, which they aptly named The Avengers.

The Avengers team combined some of the industry’s most prominent and robust fighters, such as Raphael Chaves, Pablo Popovitch, Rodrigo Cavaca, Marcus Almeida, and a few other BJJ stars with Vagner Rocha and Roberto Abreu. All the members of The Avengers were black belts in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. In 2010, The Avengers played a significant role in bringing the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation (IBJJF) into the limelight of combat sports. The team eventually broke up but all members have remained friends and have the highest respect for one another to this day.

Vagner Rocha MMA Career

Vagner Rocha’s career as an MMA fighter started in 2009, with Rocha competing in regional MMA promotions in Florida. After a successful MMA debut on the regional scene, Vagner would then fight in Strikeforce and Bellator prior to signing with the UFC.

His debut at the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) was in 2011, at UFC 131, where he fought against UFC star Donald Cerrone. Vagner came in last minute as a replacement for Mac Danzing, who was injured during the match. Vagner Rocha lost the fight, with Cerrone dominating the entire fight with his powerful leg techniques.

In September of 2011, Vagner fought at the UFC Fight Night 25 against Cody McKenzie. He won this fight through submission in just two rounds. After his first UFC victory, Vagner Rocha was set to make his debut in the featherweight division against Mike Brown in 2012. However, this fight was withdrawn due to Mike Brown’s injury. So as a replacement, Vagner Rocha went up against Jonathan Brookins at Fuel TV 1, UFC. In this fight, Vagner Rocha got knocked out and released from the UFC.

Vagner Rocha Grappling
Vagner Rocha Grappling

In the same year, Vagner started to fight in the Fight Time Promotions, and in his first fight, he won the fight in the second round against Mike Brian. In Fight Time 13, in the same year, Vagner Rocha went up against Larkin Naville and won that fight as well. This began his success streak in almost all his fights. He even defeated Randy Barroso and J.P. Reese, after which he decided to return to the UFC.

In two years, in April 2014, Vagner Rocha went back to fight at the UFC against Jim Miller, but unfortunately, he suffered a training injury and had to withdraw from the match. After his recovery, Vagner Rocha fought against Jake Matthew in his first UFC fight after returning at UFC Fight Night 55 in 2014 November, this would be Vagner’s last UFC fight.

Vagner would go on to further his BJJ and submission wrestling career and fight some big names in Jiu-Jitsu like Dante Leon, Gordon Ryan, Roberto Jiminez, Craig Jones, and Lucas Lepri. Vagner Rocha’s most epic match of all time was his second match against Dante Leon in 2019, whom he had already beat once. Vanger Rocha won once again in this match with a definitive decision by the referee.

Vagner Rocha’s Notable Achievements

  1. 1st Place in ADCC US East and West Coast Trials,
  2. IBJJF Pans Champion
  3. 1st place in EBI Combat Invitational
  4. 2nd place 2019 ADCC World Championship 
  5. 3rd place 2017 ADCC World Championship
  6. First ever EBI Combat Jiu-Jitsu Champion

Vagner Rocha: FAQ

How old is Vagner Rocha?

As of 2022, Vagner Rocha is 39 years old.

When was Vagner Rocha born?

Vagner Rocha was born on 6th June, 1982.

Is Vagner Rocha married?

Vagner Rocha is married to Fafa Rocha

How many children does Vagner Rocha have?

Vagner Rocha has 2 children, one son (Achilles Rocha) and one daughter (Jasmine Rocha). His children train with him, and Jasmine has already acquired a brown belt in Jiu-Jitsu.

How much is Vagner Rocha’s net worth?

Vagner Rocha’s net worth is currently estimated at 1.5 Million dollars.

How tall is Vagner Rocha?

Vagner Rocha is 180.3 cms (5 feet and 11 inches) tall.

How Much Does Vagner Rocha Weigh?

Vagner Rocha weighs 145 pounds (65.77kgs).

Did Vagner Rocha Retire from MMA?

Yes, Vagner Rocha is retired from MMA but continues to compete in professional submission grappling and BJJ competions. He is still teaching at his academy and taking part in competitions.

In Conclusion

After nearly 20 years into his training, Vagner Rocha has competed with success as a Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighter and a professional Jiu-Jitsu practitioner. He has competed in some of the world’s highest competition arenas for combat and runs his academy in Hollywood, Florida.

Vagner Rocha’s success can be dedicated to his fierce competitive spirit and hard work, which allows him to constantly work on himself and even test himself by challenging the best fighters out there. He is truly a talented fighter and an amazing BJJ coach who the entire BJJ community can fully agree that he is the real deal.


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