For quite some time many mixed martial arts schools around Arizona have openly bashed Rolland Sarria and flooded forums with slur about his self promotion to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt. MMA Valor went down to the Rage in the Cage Training Center to find out firsthand the truth behind the advancement from Mr. Sarria himself. He seemed very frustrated during the interview trying to express how he felt on the matter, and it definitely cleared up everything I have read online or heard bickering around the MMA scene in Arizona.
Sarria has been practicing Jiu Jitsu since he walked into Hickson Gracie Jiu Jitsu in West LA in 1994. He spent his first two years there and advanced to blue belt before he was forced to move to Orange County in 1996 where his passion for the sport only seemed to grow stronger. He then trained under Rodrigo Gracie and Ken Gaberson making brown belt and competing as one all the way up to 1998. When he competed 11 times at that level, it was always in Jiu Jitsu super fights as he wasn’t interested in a padded record, he always wanted the best. He lasted 10 minutes with the world mundial champion before succumbing to an arm bar yet lasted longer than anyone else in the competition.
When he left the gym he started his solo career as many greats do and felt he could still practice the sport and put in his time towards his black belt. He felt it a personal dishonor to not earn his black belt under the guys who advanced him thus far and due to location of both him and the instructors at the time he found it impossible. He practiced the sport for many years and decided to test himself at black belt, a feat many these days do not do ( Rashad Evans, GSP, Etc.). He faced a top-level ace in David Meyers who is a Macahdo black belt and runs BJJ America, losing via advantage point 0-0. Sarria was then declined the right to compete in the pan ams in 2003, his second time around which left a bitter taste in his mouth. He mentioned that many belts these days are based off of paper and the amount you pay to receive it not what you accomplish in competition or in the sport.
Mr. Sarria wishes he was allowed to compete more and that it wasn’t based on your popularity and amount spent giving into the organization for popularity or personal gain. He believes belts should be judged and received from hard work on the mat and not just because the media is around, or the popularity is needed. He wonders why other BJJ black belts split away from their roots and people hail them yet they blackball him in Arizona calling him a fake and bad for the sport. Mr. Sarria welcomes any local black belt who is an instructor to walk through his open door policy and challenge him for his black belt relevance. He has honestly trained with or trained the majority of recognizable professional fighters from Arizona and wonders why there is no acceptance for the man who streamlined MMA in Arizona bringing a high quality show roughly once a month.
He walked the path less traveled by not selling out to receive his black belt from an instructor he would not feel loyal to and now is a heretic which is quite sad. It bothers him that with 17 years of rolling Jiu Jitsu anyone would doubt that he is not black belt level when people are earning their black belts in 2 -3 years.
Mr. Sarria puts on great fights, many including gyms fighters that bash him yet has done more for AZ MMA than anyone else in this state. He is a local personality who always is respectful and happy come fight time. Any MMA fan should look forward to seeing the new heights Rage in the Cage break into this year.
About the Author (Author Profile)A college student residing in Arizona, coming off of active duty and continuing to work for the government. I hold a black belt in Hapkido, and have high school wrestling experience paired with multiple grappling tournaments. I spent six months training Authentic Muay Thai and now I am currently enrolling in Gracie B.J.J/MMA this week. I plan on starting my amateur fighting Career sometime late this year to early next year and also plan on entering B.J.J. tournaments through the year.
Sites That Link to this Post
- RITC Founder Rolland Sarria Discusses His BJJ Blackbelt :MMAValor | DoTheMMAth | February 12, 2011