Orlando Sanchez passed away suddenly on Thursday night. For most of the next day, there were rumours circulating in the grappling community.
His gym Gracie Barra finally verified the sad news early Friday evening via an Instagram post.
The post said, “The news of the passing of Professor Orlando Sanchez profoundly saddens us. Thank you for being a great friend and one of our greatest athletes.”
They continued by praising Sanchez’s accomplishments as a teacher and a champion athlete.
“Thank you for being a great friend and one of our greatest athletes. You leave a legacy of toughness, kindness, and loyalty through your efforts as a competitor, professor, school owner, and regional leader. Thank you for sharing your knowledge with others and spreading the Jiu-Jitsu legacy worldwide. Rest in peace, Professor Orlando Sanchez. We will always remember you. The Gracie Barra team wishes comfort in the heart of his family and friends.”
Sanchez went through personal struggles in his 20s while playing American football throughout college. However, with the encouragement of a buddy, he discovered BJJ training with Draculino black belt Alberto Crane. This developed into a new passion.
In barely three years of training, Sanchez swiftly attained his brown belt and was a formidable opponent. During this period, he regularly practiced with Gracie Barra coaches. After being promoted by previous GB instructor José Olmpio, Sanchez officially became a black belt.
With his championship win against Jared Dropp in the ADCC +99kg title, Sanchez perhaps attained the highest point of his career in 2015. Sanchez utilized his trademark power and pressure to defeat fellow superstars Dean Lister and Vinny Magalhes and bring the big prize home.
In the years that followed, he frequently appeared in news about grappling. But he was not always well received. In the MMA media, he’s best known for a viral incident with Sean Strickland in which Sanchez tried a ‘dirty’ move on Strickland who instantly threw a kick and was dismayed by an obvious attempt to injure him while he’s preparing for a UFC event.
Additionally, Sanchez competed in MMA in the past. He had a record of 4-0-1 from 2010 to 2015. Sanchez is survived by his wife and three kids.