Edwin "Junny" Ocasio
Edwin “Junny” Ocasio comes from a deep lineage of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioners. Ocasio, who currently represents Unity Jiu Jitsu School in New York City, received his black belt under Murilo Santana in 2019 and has been on a tear since. Known for his pressure passing and leglock game, Ocasio has recorded 17 wins across several competitions, all while going toe-to-toe against the biggest names in the sport. Ocasio recently sat down with Virus to discuss his ambitions in BJJ, his go-to grappling outfits, and finding truth and honesty on the mats.
Edwin “Junny” Ocasio has the roadmap laid out for his competitive career: first, win the IBJJF World Championship. Then, dominate the ADCC World Championship. While many could scoff at those goals as a distant pipe dream, they become a realistic expectation when you take into account his prior tournament success training under Murilo Santana. And why not aim for the sky? To put it simply, Ocasio says his ambition in BJJ is to “cement myself as one of the best ever to do it.”
Ocasio already owns an accomplished competition career across a wide variety of tournaments and rule sets, battling the top names in his division. He’s won several titles, including a Fight To Win black belt no-gi title at the 135 lbs. weight division. He defended the belt three times, which he considers his proudest achievement on the mats thus far (he ranks his black belt debut at Kasai Grappling a close second).
“My proudest moment would be earning my black belt from Murilo Santana. It is very hard to earn a black belt, let alone a black belt from him”
In some respects, Ocasio has overcome his biggest challenges even before he stepped on a mat as a competitor. The first hurdle of his BJJ journey was in receiving a black belt under Santana in 2019. He describes the accomplishment as the proudest achievement of his career due to the difficulty of becoming a black belt, much less getting the recognition from a legend like Santana.
Ocasio immediately put his black belt to the test, proving himself worthy under the bright lights of competition. Interestingly, he relies on Virus gear to stand out on the mats, preferring to wear what he describes as “weird combinations” to achieve his signature look. His go-to grappling outfit is the ECO Thread short sleeve white shirt and Vortex grappling shorts, a combination he wore in his Who’s Number One match against Geo Martinez.
“I knew it would be a long fight, and I needed to be comfortable,” says Ocasio of his favorite outfit.
“A Virus rashguard is just on a different level of comfort while training. Feels like a second skin. The fabric is always amazing. I love that it is not super flashy. It’s simple yet complex”
Ocasio’s accomplishments are no surprise when considering his preparation off the mats. He has a unique dietary advantage as he makes all of his own food, including sweets. Having this level of control lets him know exactly what he’s eating while also making it easier to stay away from what he describes as “bad food.”
In general, Ocasio follows a high protein, low carb diet - with one cheat day per week.
“If I can get beat up for hours and keep coming back, then I can keep pushing through life”
But focusing on Ocasio’s competition career only tells half of his story. Due to a rough upbringing, he admits that jiu-jitsu gave him structure and taught him important life lessons. He learned how to be tough and resilient, as improvement is about long-term dedication regardless of the everyday ups and downs. The journey to becoming a black belt also gave him the self-confidence and belief that he can accomplish anything by showing a similar level of commitment.
“If I can reach the level of black belt, then I can do anything in this life as long as the effort is 100%,” says Ocasio.
“Passion is something you love so much that no matter how hard it is, you’re willing to go through it”
In addition to the life lessons, jiu-jitsu also introduced him to important coaches, mentors, and friends that would shape him. He cites Santana as his biggest influence, a mentor who helped develop his BJJ skills and molded him into a high-level competitor early in his career.
Ocasio also gives a special mention to his first two coaches Carlo Chan and Liz Milizio, calling them “two of the most giving people I have ever met.” Both coaches looked out for Ocasio on and off the mats when he first started training, then gave him their blessing to move under Santana when the time came. He adds that Chan and Milizio are not only still in his life, they now train at Unity with Ocasio.
From a difficult upbringing as a youth to now becoming a champion, Ocasio represents the transformative nature of the BJJ journey. He believes that the mats - whether in training or in competition - represent a form of truth that reveals your character. As Ocasio says, jiu-jitsu forces you to be honest with yourself as “you can’t fake your skill on the mat.” The level of truth may be hard for some people to face, but as Ocasio puts it, it can also set you free to become anyone you want to be.