The La Canada, California branch of the Gracie Barra gym has confirmed that Orlando Sanchez passed away on Thursday night.
The popular Brazilian jiu-jitsu competitor won the ADCC World Championship in 2015, the IBJJF World Championship in 2010, the IBJFF Pans Championship in 2012, and the CBJJ Brazilian Nationals in 2012. Sanchez competed in the Peso Pesadissimo (super heavyweight) weight class.
Gracie Barra took to Instagram to announce the sad news:
“The news of the passing of Professor Orlando Sanchez profoundly saddens us. Thank you for being a great friend and one of our greatest athletes. You leave a legacy of toughness, kindness, and loyalty through your efforts as a competitor, professor, school owner, and regional leader. Thank you for sharing your knowledge with others and spreading the Jiu-Jitsu legacy worldwide. Rest in peace, Professor Orlando Sanchez. We will always remember you.”
The BJJ star is survived by his wife and three children.
BJJ Changed Orlando Sanchez’s Life
Before discovering BJJ, Orlando Sanchez was a college football player at Azusa Pacific University. During this time, Sanchez got into a partying lifestyle and began using drugs and consuming copious amounts of alcohol. His move into BJJ in his 20s helped him move past these issues and back into more athletically focused living.
Orlando Sanchez’s strength and power on the mats carried him to a brown belt a mere three years into his training. BJJ is notoriously difficult to progress in, but Sanchez showed a prodigious aptitude for the sport.
More recently, Sanchez made the news due to a dust-up with UFC middleweight Sean Strickland in June 2021. The pair were training together when Strickland took exception to Sanchez attempting to apply a standing armbar. Furious, “Tarzan” struck Sanchez with a chop and kick.
Interestingly, Sanchez himself also competed in MMA for a time, amassing a 5-0-1 record from 2010-2015. He was one of former UFC Heavyweight Champion Fabricio Werdum’s main training partners during this time as well.
Orlando Sanchez was 40 years old at the time of his passing.
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