Ronaldo Candido: “I make my athletes believe in the impossible”

Black-belt who once lived among the Jiu-Jitsu and MMA elite is now a dedicated teacher in Michigan

Ronaldo Candido participated in the team of fighters of “The Ultimate Fighter 24”, a UFC reality show. Image: UFC

Today the owner of a well-developed Jiu-Jitsu academy in Michigan, in the United States, black-belt Ronaldo Candido is the type of professional who has experienced the best of each phase of his career. In Jiu-Jitsu, formed by Atos, a team connected with RC BJJ Academy, Ronaldo assumed positions of favoritism as the belt around his waist gained color, having in the formation of his technical base the company of training partners like André Galvão and the Mendes Brothers.

In the transition to MMA, Ronaldo Candido lived among the best too, learning the trade with Dedé Pederneiras, the head coach of the Nova União MMA team and trainer of José Aldo, UFC Hall of Fame member, a training partner who fate also placed in his path. As an MMA fighter, Ronaldo achieved several achievements, such as being undefeated at Shooto Brasil, a relevant MMA event in Latin America, and gaining ground in the UFC. In the largest professional MMA organization in the world, Ronaldo participated in “Dana White’s Contender Series” and the reality show “The Ultimate Fighter”. With sufficient experience in the field of mixed martial arts, Ronaldo also held a place in the technical team, being a Jiu-Jitsu coach in season 23 of “The Ultimate Fighter”, on Claudia Gadelha’s team, in addition to having already been part of the team of coaches by José Aldo. Read the full interview below!

VF Comunica: Ronaldo, how did you create your academy, the RC BJJ, an Atos branch in Michigan? How do you detail the birth of the academy to the present day?

RONALDO CANDIDO: So, it all started when I moved to the state of Michigan, in the United States, at the end of 2016. I had a fight on “Dana White’s Contender Series” in the middle of 2017 and soon after I made the decision to open my own academy, an idea that I put into practice in May of the following year. I started from scratch, without any students. Little by little I gained my space and respect in the community. This was something I learned from my teacher Ramon Lemos. He always told us this when we started at Atos OG, in Rio Claro: “results generate opportunities.” In short, he wanted to say that when achieving positive results, opportunities appear. With a lot of dedication and hard work, I started to make champions within the team, especially among the children. When we started winning championships, opportunities began to appear, such as interviews on TV channels, articles in magazines and newspapers. We currently have around 300 students, with full classes for kids. And that’s not all, we’ve gained a lot of respect among the Jiu-Jitsu community.

With a sophisticated structure, Ronaldo Candido’s academy fills the mat with children and adult students. Image: @ronaldocandidobjj

VF Comunica: What has your experience as a teacher been like after experiencing the high level of sport?

RONALDO CANDIDO: The athlete “never dies”, right? You have to be really satisfied with your professional career to make this transition. I achieved much more than I dreamed of as an athlete, I believe that the more you achieve in your professional career as an athlete, the more experience you will have as a teacher, and this way your students learn much more. I love what I do and today my biggest goal as a professor is to teach Jiu-Jitsu as a form of education, respect and self-defense for everyone. Sport changes lives for the better.

VF Comunica: Your students have already started winning important titles right at the beginning of their journey. How do you analyze their growth?

RONALDO CANDIDO: My gym is in a very upscale area here in Michigan. When parents enter my gym, their intention with their children is to use sport as a form of discipline or to acquire self-confidence, among other values that only Jiu-Jitsu provides. For adults, it is a way to exercise, lose weight or even help get out of a depression, there are countless benefits. Most adults already have a professional career, but in the case of children, their parents already have a life plan for them. In other words, in the future, go to college and do activities in that direction. For me, as an educator, the reasons for competing are to challenge themselves as much as possible within the sport. I make them believe in the “impossible”. In other words, I help them become champions on and off the mat, winning high-level competitions.

With Jiu-Jitsu learned at Atos, Candido’s academy in Michigan operates under the flag of André Galvão’s team. Image: @ronaldocandidobjj

VF Comunica: As an athlete, you won the main gi tournaments and were a fighter at the highest level in MMA. How do you analyze your journey?

RONALDO CANDIDO: To be honest, as an athlete I achieved much more than I dreamed of, but I always trained hard to achieve my goals. At 19, I abandoned my professional career in the Brazilian Air Force with the dream of becoming a Jiu-Jitsu world champion. In 2009, I moved to Rio Claro and trained with Ramon Lemos, André Galvão, the Mendes brothers, among others. In 3 years, with a lot of dedication to training, I became four-time Brazilian champion in the CBJJ, pan-Pacific champion, two-time Pan-American champion, IBJJF world champion, Gi and No Gi. In 2011, I won all the major Jiu-Jitsu competitions, earning my space and respect in Gentle Art. When I was about to get my black-belt, a project came up between Ramon, who was training Anderson Silva, at the time UFC champion. That’s how I received the proposal to fight MMA. With a white-belt mentality, ready to learn and stay in MMA too. My dream was to conquer a belt in some prestigious event. In 2013, I had my first professional fight, winning by submission and soon after Ramon received an invitation to teach, moving to Dubai. Because of this, he placed me within Nova União with Dedé Pederneiras, José Aldo’s trainer and other MMA personalities. I moved to Rio de Janeiro in 2013, became undefeated Shooto Brasil champion and conquered international space within the UFC, where I participated in “The Ultimate Fighter: Tournament of Champions”, in 2016. I learned a lot and became a champion and respected MMA athlete because of Nova União. I will always be very grateful to the team, without them I would never be where I am.

VF Comunica: What is your main goal for 2024?

RONALDO CANDIDO: This year we need to expand the gym, as the classes are very full, especially the kids’ classes, thank God. Today we are a brand of respect and my biggest goals as a teacher are to inspire, empower and change the lives of my students through Jiu-Jitsu. I want to form more champions and I’m not just talking about champions on the mat, I’m talking about champions in life.

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Written by Emmanuela Oliveira

Emmanuela Oliveira é faixa-marrom de Jiu-Jitsu e formada em Comunicação Social. Dentro do tatame, aprendeu que é possível conjugar Jiu-Jitsu, escrita e o gosto pelas artes visuais em um só pacote.

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