You’d be forgiven for thinking that you simply missed Pedro Marinho‘s promotion to black belt. The physical embodiment of the phrase “just a brown belt,” with finger quotations and winks included, Marinho has quickly become one of the fastest, but most understated rising stars in jiu-jitsu. He’s made a name for himself after beating notable black belts, as well as proving his mettle in both point-based IBJJF tournaments and in the sub-only scene. Tonight, he’ll be tested once again as he returns to the stage at Fight 2 Win 163.
Marinho told the Jiu-Jitsu Times that he always loved sports as a kid, but when he started watching the UFC, he saw how “powerful” jiu-jitsu was. “I didn’t think twice about signing up at the gym close to my home, and it was the best decision I ever made,” he says. He started his journey in October of 2013 under Reinaldo Fernandes, and four years later, he found a new opportunity when he moved to Belo Horizonte and began training under Felipe Pena under the FP Golden Team project. It was then, he says, that his life truly changed and he found a way to turn his passion into a career.
In 2019, Marinho got the opportunity to move to the United States to coach and train at Gracie Barra Westchase and Gracie Barra Katy with professors Ulpiano Malachias and Chris Mango. Since then, his career has skyrocketed. After winning the open weight division at the IBJJF Pans as a brown belt, he received an invitation to compete at ADCC 2019 — a moment that he calls a “dream come true.” He’s also been in the spotlight for his impressive performances at submission-focused competitions like 3rd Coast Grappling and, of course, Fight 2 Win. But his path to becoming one of the best-known brown belts in jiu-jitsu hasn’t been an easy one.
Like many jiu-jitsu athletes, Marinho’s career was temporarily sidelined by a knee surgery. “I always was so active — coaching, training, competing — this was my life since I left home and when the injury and surgery happened, I was forced to stop everything, and that was a tough time,” he says. “Being away from the things that I love the most wasn’t easy, but that time showed me that I just have to focus on things that I can control”
Marinho says that this portion of his BJJ journey was focused on discipline and patience — a challenge for an athlete who wanted nothing more than to get back on the mats as soon as possible. “I studied a lot of things on and off the mats, and yes, the main lesson was to focus on what you can control, and what you can’t, God will take care of.”
Those lessons paid off. Fresh off his recovery, Marinho took home gold in the gi at Brazilian Nationals as a purple belt. The achievement is huge on its own, but it was far more than just another win on Marinho’s now-extensive competitive resume. “Everyone knows how hard the Brazilian Nationals are, and I was returning from a knee injury at that time and even not 100 percent. Being able to win that title showed me that I was on the right track.”
Marinho has other proud accomplishments in competition, including two no-gi world titles, but he also says that one of his greatest achievements is being able to do what he loves every day. “When me and my wife started dreaming about this years and years ago, we gave it everything,” he says. “And it’s great to see how far we’ve come and how far we’re gonna go. Living ‘God’s plan.'”
Tonight, Marinho will have another challenge ahead of him as he faces Matheus Luna in one of the most anticipated matches of F2W 163. He’s looking forward to it, calling it a “fun porrada.”
“I respect him a lot and I know how tough he is, but I’m feeling happy and ready to fight. I have been working on a lot of adjustments to my game I hope I’ll be able to show in this match.”
As one of jiu-jitsu’s fastest rising stars, Marinho doesn’t take his position in the sport for granted. Still, though, he won’t be satisfied until he’s named the number-one pound-for-pound BJJ athlete in the world. He also has his eyes on the biggest possible goals (including winning Worlds in both gi and no-gi as a black belt, plus taking home a win at ADCC), refusing to settle for what’s easy. “I wanna keep improving as much as possible,” he says. “I feel that I have so much to improve on in a lot of ways, and is this my focus: get to the another level in every aspect, be the best in any situation.”
F2W 163 streams live tonight from Dallas, Texas on FloGrappling.