It isn’t often that the opening fight of an MMA show attracts more
attention than the main event, but that was the case at Jungle
Fight 39. When Jaime
Marcelo entered the cage at the Rio de Janeiro Municipal Club
on May 12, all eyes were on him.
The reason for all the extra interest: Marcelo is an alleged
swindler, accused of falsifying his credentials as an MMA fighter
to obtain coaching contracts at academies and even give lessons to
celebrities. According to Marcelo, his list of famous students
includes Cameron Diaz. Marcelo also calls himself a world champion
of “real fight” -- which he claims is an evolution of MMA -- and
boasts an unofficial record of 134-1.
A representative of Diaz reportedly denied that the actress even
knew who Marcelo was, but Marcelo insisted in a recent interview
that Diaz was present at one of his self-defense seminars.
Marcelo’s record, however, is easily contestable: there is no proof
of his “championship,” and not one of his supposed 135 fights has
been recorded in the Sherdog.com Fight
Fighters in many parts of the world, particularly Brazil, face
difficulties when attempting to register their bouts on the Fight
Finder, mainly due to lack of standardization and poor
dissemination of results by promoters. But most of these fights can
be verified and were witnessed by many people. Such is not the case
with Marcelo’s fights, only one of which -- filmed on a cellphone
-- has been uploaded to YouTube.
By way of his dubious credentials, Marcelo appeared on several TV
shows in Brazil and even wrote a self-help book which is available
for sale in one of the country’s largest bookstores. Angered by the
man they labeled “the greatest deceiver in MMA,” forum users on
Sherdog.com partner site Portal do Vale Tudo (PVT)
began “chasing” Marcelo, leading to page after page of topics
related to him.
The PVT forum was predictably abuzz when Marcelo announced that an
April MMA event in Sao Paulo would have the participation of soccer
club Portuguesa -- who had recently hired Marcelo -- as well as
sponsorship from Ferrari and coverage on CBS. After 250 pages of
controversy and outrage over the announcement drew coverage from
major media outlets, Portuguesa released Marcelo from his
Forum users also bombarded the Twitter account of Wallid
Ismail, a Brazilian vale tudo icon and promoter of the
country’s biggest MMA event, Jungle
Fight. Fans asked Ismail to arrange for Marcelo to compete at
the next Jungle Fight and prove that he was really a fighter.
Ismail agreed, and Marcelo readily accepted a bout against Armando
Polemico, a student of Francisco
Veras, who was recently hired as Anderson
Silva’s new muay Thai coach.
In the opening bout of Jungle Fight 39, Marcelo had the opportunity
to showcase his skills on national television. He entered the cage
in a white rash guard, trying unsuccessfully to disguise a Roy
Nelson-like physique. Polemico entered to the cheers of the
fans, and together they put on a fight which, while lacking in
technique, had plenty of emotion.
The striking was heavy from the onset. It seemed someone could fall
at any time until, only seconds into the fight, an elbow from
Polemico cut and raised a massive welt beneath the left eye of
Marcelo. After being cleared to continue by the cageside physician,
Marcelo pressed forward, lobbing kicks and punches as his blood
stained the white rash guard. After 90 seconds, Polemico executed
an effortless throw, mounted Marcelo and delivered punches until
referee Marcus Vinicius intervened at the 2:34 mark.
Marcelo was taken to the hospital, but only to take care of the
damage beneath his left eye. The fighter reportedly asked Ismail
and Jungle Fight co-promoter Bebeo Duarte
for another fight with Polemico, to improve his official record
which now stands at 0-1. Ismail didn’t answer the rematch request,
but he did offer some kind words for Marcelo.
“Just for stepping into Jungle Fight’s cage, he’s a warrior,” said
Ismail, “and he deserves my respect.”
Alan Oliveira contributed to this report.