Orlando Sanchez was an American BJJ practitioner and mixed martial arts fighter. He was known as the Cuban Stump as well as the Big O and received his black belt under José “Zé Radiola” Olímpio.
Weight Division: over 100kg/221lbs
Team/Association: Gracie Barra
In the world of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, there are individuals who rise above the rest and leave an indelible mark on the sport. Sanchez was one such figure, a remarkable grappler who defied the odds and conquered both personal struggles and the competitive arena. Today, we pay tribute to the life and legacy of Orlando Sanchez, highlighting his extraordinary journey from a path of self-destruction to becoming a revered name in the grappling world.
Growing up in La Cañada, California, Orlando Sanchez’s athletic prowess was evident from an early age. While he excelled in a variety of sports, it was his success in football that stood out. Orlando’s talents on the gridiron led him to compete at the collegiate level. However, as he transitioned from college life, Orlando found himself drawn into a world of parties and excess. The pursuit of this lifestyle led him down a destructive path, plagued by alcohol, drug abuse, and a deep sense of depression. By the time he reached the age of 26, Orlando Sanchez weighed a staggering 360 pounds and realized that a drastic change was needed to reclaim his life’s trajectory.
Under the guidance of Alberto Crane, a respected Gracie Barra athlete and his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu coach, Orlando Sanchez quickly discovered his innate talent for grappling. With relentless dedication and a natural affinity for the sport, he began competing regularly and achieved the rank of brown belt in an astonishing three years of training. This rapid ascent was complemented by a series of notable tournament victories, including the Gracie Nationals, Grapplers Quest, and the IBJJF Pan-American Championship.
Throughout his Jiu-Jitsu journey, Orlando Sanchez had the privilege of training with esteemed coaches and competitors within the Gracie Barra network. The likes of Romulo Barral, Draculino, and José Olímpio, also known as Ze Radiola, played pivotal roles in shaping Sanchez’s skills and mindset. In fact, it was Radiola who awarded him his black belt in September 2012, after an exceptional year as a brown belt, where Sanchez emerged victorious in prestigious tournaments such as the Pan American Championships and the Brazilian Nationals in both his weight class and the open weight divisions.
Competitive Career & Achievements
Driven by an insatiable competitive spirit, Orlando Sanchez ventured into the world of mixed martial arts (MMA). Training under the tutelage of Rafael Cordeiro at Kings MMA and serving as a key training partner to Fabricio Werdum, Sanchez proved his mettle inside the cage. With an unbeaten record of 5-0-1, his MMA career showcased his versatility and tenacity as a fighter, further solidifying his reputation as a force to be reckoned with.
|1st Place ADCC World Championship (2015)|
|2nd Place ADCC World Championship (2017)|
|Main Achievements ( at Colored Belts)|
|1st Place IBJJF World Championship (2010 blue)|
|1st Place IBJJF Pans Championship (2012 brown)|
|1st Place CBJJ Brazilian Nationals (2012 brown)|
|2nd Place IBJJF World Championship (2010/2009 blue)|
What happened to orlando sanchez?
Tragically, Orlando Sanchez’s extraordinary journey came to an untimely end on December 16, 2022, at the age of 40, leaving behind his wife and three children. According to a recent coroner’s report from the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner, Orlando died from an accidental drug overdose of Fentanyl and Methamphetamine on December 15, 2022. Sanchez is survived by his wife and three children.
Tragedy & Legacy
His impact on the world of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu remains indomitable. His accolades speak volumes, including a 1st place finish at the ADCC World Championship in 2015 and a 2nd place finish in 2017. Even at the colored belt level, his prowess was evident, with victories at the IBJJF World Championship and Pans Championship.
Orlando Sanchez’s life serves as a testament to the transformative power of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. From battling personal demons to ascending to the highest echelons of the grappling world, he embodied resilience, passion, and a burning desire for self-improvement. Though his time on this Earth was cut short, his legacy as a grappling legend will forever inspire future generations to push their limits and embrace the transformative power of the gentle art.
In honor of Orlando Sanchez, let us remember his remarkable journey and the lasting impact he left on the world of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.