Photo Credit: Jude Abadi Photography
With its plentiful beaches, dramatic mountains, and backdrop of samba and bossa nova rhythms, Brazil is a world apart from the Arabian sandy deserts. But a certain Brazilian cultural product has made deep inroads within a tiny kingdom tucked away along the Arabian Gulf. Abu Dhabi, a.k.a “the capital of Jiu-Jitsu” stages every year the largest Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu event in the world: Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship.
In 2009 Marcos “Santa Cruz” Oliveira won the US West Coast Abu Dhabi Jiu Jitsu Pro trials. That year, he competed in Abu Dhabi where he met Carlos Santos (Carlão), who was heading the United Arab Emirates Jiu-Jitsu project. A program outlined to make grappling available in the UAE school program. Marcos decided to move to the country with his wife Caroline de Lazzer, where the two settled and established themselves.
We love Abu Dhabi! Period. I won my first world tittle here, and in 2009 I was invited to be part of this outstanding project created by HH Mohammed Al Nahyan and Carlos Santos. Carol also accepted to be part of this amazing project, and today we are building not just our team, but also our family here, and trying to give back some of the goods we received, we love Abu Dhabi so much that we decided to raise our son here, Marcos Darkos was born here.
Oliveira’s achievements in BJJ are too long to list, but his most recent is a double gold at this April’s Abu Dhabi World Pro, dominating the the black belts master 1 division in both 94+ Kg and open weight. This is no first to the Brazilian who also earned double gold last year at WPJJC 2015 in the black belts master 1 division at 95+ Kg and open weight, whilst leading his students to collect the most gold medals as a team.
In recognition of his incredible efforts and achievements in 2015/16, Marcos Oliveira was awarded best black belt male fighter of the year in an exciting global awards ceremony that followed the competitions this April.
Following the highlight accomplishment of his career, ArabsMMA sat down with the 4 x Abu Dhabi World Pro Gold Medalist and Rise Global Ambassador to discuss his future plans.
As saddened as we were to hear that “Santa Cruz” is announcing his retirement from the Abu Dhabi World Pro’s, we were delighted to learn that Marcos will now fully dedicate his life to instructing and helping young prospects achieve their dreams. His legacy is there to stay!
“I would like to take this opportunity to officially announce my retirement from the Abu Dhabi World Pro’s. I’m glad to be able to retire after the highlight of my career which was our 4 x gold medal performance at the Abu dhabi world professional Jiu-Jitsu championships in front of my family and friends,” stated Santa cruz .
“I would d like to thank all my teammates from the past 30 years, Carol for her love and support and of course, my incredible parents who have followed me all over the world to cheer me on and support me.”
“Over the span of my 30 year career, I have competed internationally in wrestling, Jiu-Jitsu, Judo, and MMA. It is a privilege to represent your country abroad, but it is also a responsibility. I think I have been a good ambassador at each event”
Married to the not least renowned Jiu Jitsu and wrestling Brazilian champion Caroline de Lazzer and the father of the little champion Marcos Darkus and Maria Vitoria (on the way), Marcos states that has a lot more to give to the world.
“I always played to the best of my capabilities. I’ve had a great time, but feel it’s time to focus on my family, the younger talents, and other career interests.”
After several months of thought and discussion with his family and his team, Oliveira realized that his future includes many things “Fight Sports”, but active competition in the sport is no longer one of them. This isn’t goodbye, as he will still be very much, if not more, involved in the sport but just not as a fighter.
“I want to help further talents from Santa Cruz, Guam, UAE, Russia, and Palestine and give my contribution to the sport. I know that I have, and I will continue to contribute much to the growth of our sport outside of the mats.”
Oliveira now works as a Jiu-Jitsu coach at Al Wahda club which he represented as a competitor at the Abu Dhabi World Pro’s 2016.
“Al Wahda Club had it’s first season at the pro’s this year, and they ranked number 8 among the UAE gyms, my aim is to make Al Wahda Club among the top 3 next season”
ArabsMMA wishes all the best to “Santa Cruz” on his coming journey!