I met Professor Dande when I was getting ready for my first, and only, mma fight. Which I took as I had participated in two or three tournaments as a white belt and won so I felt invincible (once again why it was my only mma fight) which was put together by another person that assisted me along the way, Richard Wilner, after watching the Matt Hughes/Royce Gracie fight. It was hilarious though because the promoter that we met who set up the fight initially told us it would be against someone who was starting out as well. When Richard got the call he told me it was against a man named Aaron Brink, who was not starting so much out, but more as trying to come back. So my heart, nor my head, could not make up for lack of experience that night and realized I needed more training.
After that fight, life progressed and I returned to the military. This instance though I was unable to complete my full enlistment as I became injured. It was time that doctors and I spoke about a realistic health plan for me, which included my first spinal fusion on my L4-S1 vertebrae. During my transition from being medically discharged from the military, I was able maintain my relationship with Richard and during which time he was building an academy with Renato “Babalu” Sobral. The timing was working out to where I started as their Program Director and was able to learn the system from the inside out.
This also got me back with Professor Dande as he became the chief instructor at Babalu’s gym. (During such period Babalu was still actively competing in Mixed Martial Arts.) Not only did the two of us work together six days a week, we also were roommates. That started us on a journey together and he became more of a mentor than anything else and he truly helped me turn my life completely around. In every way possible he pushed me to new levels, and not just on the mat. Professor Dande had shown me that BJJ is a lifestyle change. Professor Dande brought me from a down and out place in my life to having a brand new sense of excitement, especially during our trip to Brazil together when he took me to his home city of Brasilia, the country’s capitol.
Even though our paths have gone separate ways I wish him nothing but the best of luck with everything he does. All of this has lead me to where I am at today, and I could not be happier with that. Joining the TNT federation helped me bridge a vital gap in my game which many schools ignore which are leg lock submissions.
Although I realize my time as a consistent and active competitor are drawing closer to the end I like to go back to the old saying that “Those that can, do. Those that can’t, teach.” It is time to let egotism to the side and start helping the next generation that is coming along. So come join me on the mats and let us develop ourselves into the best individual we can be, not only for ourselves but to the ones we each hold close and to the community around us.
Lineage: White Belt 2005 (Marcio Feitosa/Gracie Barra), Blue Belt 2006 (Carlos Gracie Jr./Gracie Barra) Purple Belt 2011 (Alexandre “Dande” Santos/Gracie Barra) Brown Belt 2015 (Alexandre “Dande” Santos/Gracie Barra) Brown Belt 1st Degree 2017 (Scott Tannenbaum/TNT)