Tom DeBlass has been in the game a long time. So long, in fact, that the jiu-jitsu coach (and UFC veteran and current Bellator fighter) was part of the training camp that prepared Renzo Gracie for his 2005 fight against BJ Penn. Here’s DeBlass waxing poetic about the experience, which took place at Ricardo Almeida’s academy in New Jersey:

Let’s talk about throwback. 9 year’s ago Professor Ricardo called Dante [Rivera] and I and told us Master Renzo accepted a fight against BJ Penn. Renzo’s camp would be set up at RABJJ. This is when RABJJ was in flex gym, and hour and 30 minutes from my home. Ryan Grace (rip) and also Ralph Gracie flew in to help as well. Dante and I were Renzo’s main sparring partner’s. I was 22 years old and a new purple belt. We would be there 5 days a week. Everyday Prof, Renzo, Ralph, and Ryan would ask me and Dante to spar before we started. I would not call it spar, we would fight! Lol. I mean hard, head kicks and all. This was entertainment for them for sure. These were great memories and still to this day if my Professor or Master Renzo called on me I would be there no question asked.

DeBlass has since attained his black belt in jiu-jitsu. His last fight was at Bellator 108 on November 15, 2013, where he defeated Jason Lambert via knockout.

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