Ericka Almeida — a UFC veteran and BJJ black belt who has won IBJJF Brazilian Nationals and the UAEJJF Brazilian National Pro — has pressed charges against her former coach, Herman Gutierrez, for alleged threats and physical assault. The news was first reported by Brazilian news network Globo.
In an extensive interview, Almeida details the physical and emotional abuse she said she endured from Gutierrez. According to Almeida, Gutierrez — who was 38 years old and married at the time — began to pursue her romantically when she was just seventeen years old and working as a receptionist at his gym, where she also trained.
Almeida says that at first, Gutierrez “treated her very well,” and she ultimately “gave in” to his insistence on a relationship with her. But as time went on, she says that he became verbally and physically aggressive with her over her choices to use makeup or wear her hair down. She claims that after she signed with the UFC (from which she was let go after two losses), Gutierrez “always made it clear that [she] owed him” for her progress in the sport.
Almeida’s sister, Ellen (who was fifteen at the time), also began training under Gutierrez, and sure enough, the coach began to pursue her as well, unbeknownst to Ericka. Ellen claims that she was also the target of Gutierrez’s aggression. “He took me by the neck, began to strangle me, but as I trained BJJ I did not feel much. Then he let go,” she said in an interview with Globo. “When he let go, I relaxed and said, ‘I think he stopped.’ When I thought that, he threw his knee into my chin.”
In 2017, Ericka claims that Gutierrez became irate over her being in a WhatsApp group chat with her friends and beat her bloody. She recorded a video directly after the incident so that, should he return to “finish her,” there would be evidence that would lead back to him. The video, along with the diary that Ellen kept that detailed Gutierrez’s alleged assaults against her, will be used in the ongoing police investigation.
Following a college friend’s advice, the sisters eventually told their parents about what they’d experienced, and Ericka moved about 250 miles away to start a new life away from Guitierrez.
For his part, Gutierrez denies the allegations, saying in an interview with Brazilian TV program Fantástico that he had a “loving relationship” with Ericka and “doesn’t remember” the alleged situation that she described in her video. When presented with an audio clip that Ericka says proves he threatened her, he said, “I’m not recognizing my voice right, but it was not such a thing, so it’s … sorry, okay.” He then covered the camera lens with his hand.
The full interview (in Portuguese) can be viewed below and includes the aforementioned video and audio clip: