Marcelo was born in 1978 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He started his journey with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu almost thirty years ago, when he was seven years old. He was introduced to Jiu-Jitsu by his brother in law, who was a brown belt at the time.
Marcelo's first professor was Sebastiao Ricardo, who was a student of Helio Gracie at his downtown Rio de Janeiro school.
Because Master Ricardo decided to retire, he was Marcelo's professor for only a short time. One of Ricardo's best students, black belt Wendell Alexander, took over the school. Under Alexander's guidance the school became one of the best youth competition Jiu-Jitsu teams in Brazil.
After a period, Alexander met Andre Pederneiras, a Carlson Gracie Black belt, who also had a strong junior BJJ team. After some discussion, the two decided to join their individual teams, in part to better compete with the larger Gracie Barra and Carlson Gracie teams.
After placing third and second in their first two competitions, they formalized the new team in 1995, calling it Nova Uniao, which in Portuguese means "New Union".
The very first Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world championship took place the following year, in 1996. As a brand new team, Nova Uniao won 7 medals. The following year, 1997, they won 28, including Robson Moura's first black belt gold medal.
In the next few years, Nova Uniao became firmly established as one of the top teams in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and a source of great talent, in both Jiu-Jitsu and mixed martial arts.
Nova Uniao spawned fighters such as Moura, Bruno Bastos, Vitor "Shaolin" Ribeiro, Leonardo Santos, and BJ Penn, one of only three Americans and one of four non Brazilians to win a black belt world medal at the BJJ worlds.
Andre Pederneiras went on the develop one of the top mixed martial arts teams, as well, with prolific fighters such as (current UFC champion) Jose Aldo, Renan Barao, Waggney Fabiano, Thales Leites, and Eduardo Dantas.
Two weeks before the 1998 Mundials, Marcelo earned his black belt under Alexander and Pederneiras. It was there that he won his first world championship.
It was an exciting time in Jiu-Jitsu, with many historic firsts, the building of legends and household names, and the rise and success of Nova Uniao. It was in this environment that Marcelo Pereira developed as a fighter and as a student. It was also a time where Marcelo was first given the opportunity to teach.