Mario Sperry is perhaps best known for captaining jiu-jitsu and MMA powerhouse Brazilian Top Team, which included the likes of Rodrigo Nogueira and Murilo Bustamante, during the heyday of PRIDE.
But he’s also a decorated competitor himself, ranking among the best jiu-jitsu players of his day as well as a force in MMA competition. Sperry accumulated a 13-4 record from 1995 to 2007, including a win over the feared Igor Vovchanchyn in Japan.
Later this month, Sperry will face Ricardo Liborio, his longtime teammate at Carlson Gracie Team, in a grappling match at ADCC 2015.
He expressed excitement about the match in a brief interview with Sherdog yesterday.
“I’m doing what I most like to do in life,” he said. “Training and overcoming my own limits, enjoying getting better every day. I’m getting ready for a great challenge.”
Asked about the so-called “resurrected PRIDE” — former PRIDE/K-1 promoter Sadaharu Tanikawa’s new MMA promotion, which has yet to hold an event — Sperry expressed a hopeful enthusiasm.
“I’m 48 years old. It’s very hard for me, compared to a 30-35 year old fighter,” he smiled. “I’m not capable of facing great names. But if they want to see me fighting again, if they want to give me a guy around the same age, of course I will accept the challenge… especially in Japan, a place I loved. I had some of the most unforgettable days of my life there.”
Sperry verified he had been contacted about Ricardo Arona, one of his old charges — known for his fights in PRIDE against the likes of Kazushi Sakuraba (seen above).
“We exchanged messages about Arona,” Sperry said. “But unfortunately he’s having surgery on his knee in September. He’s going to be out of training for about six months.”
“But let’s hope PRIDE comes back at full strength,” he added. “I’m sure old guys from the old times, like Arona or Wanderlei, or even the Nogueira brothers, can come back and fight there.”