Andre Pederneiras’ beginnings in martial arts
André “Dede” Pederneiras was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and got into Jiu Jitsu when he was 17. Initially, Pederneiras joined Upper Sports Clube to lift weights, but since Jiu Jitsu was offered with a membership, he started training.
Rodrigo Vieira was his professor and a black belt under Carlson Gracie. Dede immediately became passionate about Jiu Jitsu and would train constantly.
He would train with Viera up until he was a brown belt until Vieira took a job offer at a bigger academy. Dede would be without a coach for a short period until Carlson Gracie himself. Also offering him a job to teach the kids at his academy.
5 years later after he started Jiu Jitsu, André would receive his black belt from Carlson Gracie.
Pederneiras opens his own academy
After receiving his black belt, Dede would open his own Jiu Jitsu academy, but would face adversity. His students would be successful in competition, but they would never win a team tournament due to being a small school.
Large BJJ schools like Gracie Barra with their sheer numbers would always win team awards at competitions.
Andre Pederneiras co-founder of Nova União
Dede would befriend another small gym owner named Wendel Alexander. The two would decide to join forces against the bigger school and would form the affiliation Nova Uniao.(New Union in english)
Andre would face backlash from Brazilians during the 90s as he was one of the first to start training foreigners. Two of his first foreign students would include John Lewis and BJ Penn.
His student BJ Penn was the first non Brazilian to win a BJJ world championship.
Andre Pederneiras begins coaching MMA
During the late 90s when MMA was getting popular, Dede started coaching and training in the sport. André himself would compete in two fights going 1-1 before becoming a full time coach.
Nova Uniao would also split between MMA and BJJ training. Wendell would take over the BJJ side of the affiliation, while Dede ran the MMA side.
He would be the head MMA coach for 21 years before stepping down as head coach in 2018. In that time, André would train 3 MMA world champions and numerous top level fighters.
Dede has been coaching MMA fighters since the late 90s and has built a successful and extensive resume. Some of the top fighters he trained include BJ Penn, Jose Aldo, Renan Barao, and Eduardo Dantes.
“The prodigy” BJ Penn was one of the greatest MMA and BJJ practitioners of all time. He became obsessed with BJJ and dedicated his life to it.
So much so that he would reach the level of black in just over 3 years from Pederneiras. In this time, BJ would also become the first american to win a BJJ world championship.
After winning a world championship in Jiu Jitsu, BJ turned his attention to MMA. He would go right into the UFC going 6-1-1 in his first run with the promotion.
This included going up a weight class and beating welterweight champion Matt Hughes. Penn would fight 4 fights with K-1 MMA before coming back to the UFC.
When BJ would return he would have two fights at welterweight before the lightweight division was brought back. He would fight his way to the championship and win the title against Sean Sherk.
Arguably the greatest student of Pederneiras and one of the all time great fighters is Jose Aldo. He started fighting when he was just 17 and was destined for greatness.
Aldo would reach the WEC when he was just 20 years old with a record of 10-1. From 2006 on, Aldo would go unbeaten for almost a decade.
Winning the WEC featherweight title and retaining it until the promotion merged into the UFC. Once in the UFC his title was changed to the UFC featherweight title and would continue his dominance.
Defending his title before losing it to Conor McGregor in 2015. Jose went through a rough patch for a few years, but has found new life in the bantamweight division.
The other UFC champion that Dede trained was former bantamweight champion Renan Barao. For a short time Barao looked like he would be the bantamweight equivalent to Jose Aldo.
Winning his 2 WEC fights and continuing his winning ways once he moved to the UFC. He would decisively win his first UFC fights before beating Urijah Faber for the championship.
Barao would defend his title three times before losing his title to underdog TJ Dillashaw. This loss along with UFC’s new drug policy would mark the downside of Renan’a career. Going 2-8 in his last 10 fights before being released.
Andre Pederneiras’ legacy
André Pederneiras is responsible for building one of the biggest powerhouses in MMA from the ground up. In his 21 years as head of Nova Uniao, André would train 3 UFC champions and numerous top level MMA talent.
As of 2018, Pederneiras stepped down as head coach of Nova Uniao. He purchased his first academy Upper Arena and wanted to realize his vision for the gym.
Which was to create a neutral MMA gym, where top level fighters in MMA from different affiliations can train together. Free of the gym politics that comes with different affiliations. Dede will look to continue training the next crop of fighters from his gym in Rio.