Story & photos Eve Jeffery
Having been winged last month, Ben Pietzsch has had to tag out of teaching at Byron Bay’s MMA gym. Tag in the big guns, aka Daniel ‘Jacaré’ Almeida, 173cm and 84 kilos of BOOM!
Extreme X, Byron Bay’s chapter of MMA, has enlisted the expertise of Daniel and he will be the permanent full-time coach. ‘He has been specifically bought to Byron to teach his world-class jiu-jitsu and MMA techniques,’ says Ben, who is sporting a sling courtesy of recent surgery and will be out of action for at least three months. ‘It is great timing that finally Daniel arrived on Friday as I tore my pec muscle clean off the bone while sparring two weeks ago.’
Brazil-born Daniel has lived in the US and Canada but this is his first trip to Australia and he is excited about the opportunity. ‘I’m going to work as coach of Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ) and MMA,’ says Daniel, who has brought his wife and son to Australia with him. ‘I have an undated return to Brazil. I intend to make the most of my stay and do my job in the best way.’
Daniel is a professional athlete in: jiu-jitsu, submission, grappling, boxing, muay thai and MMA. He began the practice of jiu-jitsu in 1997 with Professor Bruno Bastos in Rio de Janeiro. He currently competes as a jiu-jitsu black belt. In 2010 he travelled to Dallas, Texas, to teach classes and seminars, in addition to training, where he arrived to compete big MMA events including Shark Fight. He is also no-gi champion of Texas state. Daniel has been with the Nova União team since its formation in 1997, where he has been training at the elite level with Professor André Pederneiras.
Ben says having Daniel is a huge step for the business and all that are involved in he academy and in the fitness and martial arts community. ‘To have a world-class fighter and coach like Daniel on our team means that Byron Bay and surrounds have access to the highest level of instruction possible outside Brazil. Our next big step is our new top-level training facility that will be ready next year; stay tuned for opening dates.’
Daniel’s motto is ‘Fighting for my family’ and he believes that to maintain a professional standard you need focus, discipline, ethics, commitment, integrity and, above all, to love what you do. ‘I want to continue jiu-jitsu competitions and discover great talents in Byron Bay in the near future, so MMA can be proud not only of me but our entire team. I want to thank God first, Ben for the great opportunity and confidence, my coaches and André Pederneiras Bruno Bastos, and Marcelino Freitas who began this work successfully in Australia, and I want to thank my wife, who is essential in my life.’
For more information about Byron Bay MMA, visit their website at: www.byronbaymma.com.