Co-defendant sentenced to 80 days time-served in unprovoked attack on five-time Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu World Champion
SANTA ANA, Calif. – A professional mixed martial artist and owner of several Gracie Barre Jiu-Jitsu academies failed to appear in court today to be arraigned on a felony assault charge for a unprovoked attack on a five-time Jiu-Jitsu world champion that knocked out the victim’s two front teeth. State law requires a defendant to physically appear to be arraigned on felony charges.
Ralph Gracie, 39, of Danville, was charged with one count of felony assault with an enhancement for inflicting great bodily injury for attacking five-time World Champion Flavio Almeida on the sidelines of the 2018 International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation World Championships in Anaheim. Gracie holds a 5th degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Judge Roger B. Robbins reduced the felony assault charge on co-defendant, Lincoln Jeferson Pereira, to a misdemeanor assault with force likely to produce great bodily injury over the objection of prosecutors. Pereira pleaded guilty to the reduced misdemeanor charge in July, and was sentenced today to 80 days time- served.
Almeida was attacked on December 15, 2018 while having a conversation with Gracie while Almeida was coaching one of his athletes from the sidelines of the World Championships. Gracie is accused of elbowing Almeida in the face, rendering him unconscious and knocking him to the ground. Once on the ground, Gracie is accused of kicking Almeida in the face at least one time.
Lincoln Pereira, a student of Gracie’s, joined in the attack, striking Almeida while he was unconscious on the ground. Almeida suffered a concussion and two missing teeth as a result of the attack.
In a victim impact statement delivered in court today, Almeida described the unprovoked attack to Judge Robbins and explained that although he holds a 4th degree black belt in Jiu-Jitsu, he resisted retaliating.
“I resolved to trust the justice system to hold these individuals accountable for their premeditated and coordinated act of terrorism,” Almeida said. “Qualifying this vicious attack as a misdemeanor means the bad guys win. They will once again get away with their threats and violent behavior pounding on their chests for being above the law.
If this happens, it will send a very confusing message to thousands of young Jiu-Jitsu students. It will instigate the many who have already been misled by them to follow in their footsteps.”
Gracie fled to Brazil after the assault and a warrant was issued for his arrest in April 2019.
He returned to the United States, but has failed to appear for four consecutive court appearances. Robbins issued a warrant, but over the objection of prosecutors refused to have it executed. Gracie is scheduled to be arraigned on October 15, 2019 at the North Justice Center.
“When the criminal justice system fails to hold people accountable for committing violence, these elite mixed martial arts athletes have the training and the expertise to take the law into their own hands,” said Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer. “The victim in this case made the decision to exercise restraint, to not take the law into his own hands, and trust that the criminal justice system will do what it is supposed to do – hold people accountable for engaging in violence.”
Deputy District Attorney Matt Plunkett is prosecuting this case.