Not for the fame, the prestige, or the money, but for the love of Jiu-Jitsu
For most who practice the sport, Jiu-Jitsu can mean many things. A hobby, a passion, a way to lose weight, or maybe a career. But for all who study it, a small group whose time has been and gone paved the way for everyone and made the sport what it is today.
One of those men is Murilo Bustamante, and for him, he was fighting for Jiu-Jitsu’s honor.
For him, it was an obligation.
Never planning on becoming a professional fighter, he started teaching Jiu-Jitsu to pay his tuition. Still, when the renowned Luta Livre vs. Jiu-Jitsu competition came around in 1991, Murilo said he felt he had to step up and show the world the power of Jiu-Jitsu.
“I felt that I had an obligation to be involved because I was a Black Belt at the time, I was one of the best competitors at Carlson’s school, I was always in the top three at competitions.”
“I felt I had a chance to honor Jiu-Jitsu. Not for money, not for fame, but to defend the martial art, I love.”
Murilo won his fight, along with Wallid Ismail and Fábio Gurgel (who were also representing Jiu-Jitsu), who won their respective fights. Murilo beat Marcelo Mendes when both fighters fell out of the ring, and Mendes did not return.
From that point, Murilo’s career continued with several notable matches, including, in his own words, his toughest ever against Tom Erikson in 1996 for MARS (Martial Arts Reality Superfighting).
“He was a big guy, heavy hands, super prepared, and at the time, he wasn’t that good on the ground but was an amazing athlete. It was a very tough fight, we fought for 40 minutes, and neither would give up… it was supposed to be 30 minutes, but they extended to 40.”
It’s worth noting that Murilo had already fought twice that night before the match, winning both fights. Erikson also outweighed Murilo by 100lbs.
“I fought many tough fighters: Chuck Lidell, Kevin “Rampage” Jackson, Dan Henderson, Jerry Bohlander, but the toughest was Tom Erikson.”
And yet, whilst Murilo may recognize this as his toughest fight, he wouldn’t necessarily recognize it as his biggest achievement,
“Setting a good example for the younger generation. For me, it wasn’t about winning… it was about leaving everything on the mat. I wasn’t fighting because of the money or to be famous. I was fighting because I was a martial artist.”