SANTA ANA (CBSLA) -- A mixed-martial artist and owner of several Brazilian jiu-jitsu training centers in Northern California who assaulted another MMA fighter in Anaheim two years ago was sentenced to jail time Friday.
Ralph Gracie, 49, of Danville, was sentenced to six months in jail for assaulting another MMA competitor during a tournament at the Anaheim Convention Center in December of 2018.
An Orange County Superior Court judge also ordered Gracie to take part in an anger management program. He was placed on three years of formal probation as well.
Gracie accepted a plea deal in which he pleaded guilty to a felony count of assault with force likely to produce great bodily injury with a sentencing enhancement for inflicting great bodily injury.
According to the O.C. District Attorney's Office, Gracie assaulted Flavio Almeida, a five-time jiu-jitsu world champion, at the 2018 Jiu-Jitsu Federation World Championships while Almeida was on the sidelines of a match coaching one of his athletes.
Prosecutors say Gracie elbowed and kicked Almeida in the face, knocking out his two front teeth.
One of Gracie's own students, Lincoln Pereira, also joined in on the assault. Pereira later plead guilty to misdemeanor assault and was sentenced to 80 days in jail for time served.
Authorities said that Gracie, a fifth-degree black belt, had fled to Brazil and a fugitive warrant was issued for his arrest in August 2019 when he failed to show for a court hearing.
However, attorney Harley Breite said his client was in Brazil at the time caring for his 84-year-old father, who had lapsed into a coma after falling and striking his head.
In a memorandum to the judge written in 2019, Gracie's attorney said then that Gracie felt "tremendous remorse" for attacking Almeida, a longtime friend, adding that the conflict had become a source of "great embarrassment" to Gracie within his industry and within his extended family and friends.
Gracie, who has been indefinitely suspended by the federation, lives in the San Francisco Bay area with his wife and three children and has dual citizenship in the U.S. and Brazil.
Tension between Gracie and Almeida stemmed from Almeida's decision to open a training academy near one operated by Gracie in Northern California, Breite said.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)
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