A grand jury has indicted Ralph Gracie, the older brother of MMA legend Renzo Gracie, on one count of felony assault for allegedly attacking jiu-jitsu champion Flavio Almeida at the 2018 IBJJF World Championships.
Gracie, 39, today pleaded not guilty during his arraignment in Orange County (Calif.) Superior Court, denying he assaulted Almeida during the competition on Dec. 15, 2018, Superior Court Public Information Officer Kimberly Edds told MMA Fighting.
The plea was Gracie’s second court appearance following a no-show that triggered his indictment. The judge extended a $50,000 bond and ordered Gracie to surrender his passport, Edds said. He is due back in court on Nov. 19 for a pre-trial conference.
Reached by telephone, Gracie told MMA Fighting, “Right now, I have no comment. I have to wait for the court. My attorneys have advised me not to comment.”
Prosecutors say Gracie, whose Gracie jiu-jitsu academy in San Francisco reportedly rivals Almeida’s Gracie Barra affiliate, attacked Almeida during the grappling tournament. Gracie is accused of knocking out Almeida – who was coaching a student from the sidelines – with an elbow and kicking him on the ground.
Jiu-jitsu practitioner Lincoln Pereira is also alleged to have participated by kicking the downed Almeida. The attack allegedly left Almeida with a concussion and two missing teeth.
Gracie’s felony assault charge has an enhancement “for inflicting great bodily injury” and carries a potential prison sentence of up to seven years, per Edds.
Video that reportedly captured the encounter surfaced shortly after the competition and appears to show a man elbowing another in the face.
In January, an attorney representing Renzo Gracie released a statement defending Ralph Gracie, saying the video “does not capture the full spectrum of words and actions leading up to the incident,” James Cook wrote. “To view the video within the full context, it is easy to conclude that altercation should be characterized as mutual combat.”
“You are weak, and you being one of the executives in the (Gracie Barra) shows how weak it (sic) have become,” he wrote.
An Orange County Superior Judge in August reduced a felony assault charge on Pereira to misdemeanor assault. But a warrant was issued for Gracie’s arrest when he failed to appear in court in August; prosecutors say he fled to Brazil. The case was then taken to a grand jury.
”The Orange County District Attorney’s Office will continue to seek justice for victims regardless of the geographical obstacles in our way,” stated OC District Attorney Todd Spitzer in a press release issued after Gracie’s indictment.
Gracie fought seven times in MMA from 1992-2004 before retiring with a record of 6-1. In his final fight, he was knocked out by Takanori Gomi at Pride Bushido 3.