Demetrio Urt practices mixed martial arts nearly every day at the Fight Sports MMA gym in Wynwood. But when he isn't triangle-choking his opponent into submission, he builds food trucks.
Born in Rio de Janero, Urt moved to Miami in 1994 with his family. Four years later, the Urts started a traditional Brazilian restaurant called Brasileirissmo. Demetrio worked at the restaurant for only a few years until it closed shortly after the 9/11 attacks due to lack of business.
But now he owns his own food truck. In fact, he and a friend built it from scratch, except for the chassis, which he bought.
His truck is called Rio Samba Grill, and it's parked outside the Fight Sports gym at NE 22nd Street and Second Avenue almost every day of the week. Urt is also the chef, and he offers Brazilian-style steak, burgers, fried yuca, coconut water, desserts, and other cuisine that could make any rough-and-tumble fighter, even a Gracie, drool. He also caters parties.
He has finished one truck, which he began building in December and finished in June. Between the purchases of the used truck and the construction materials, the entire project cost him about $40,000. The truck was built completely from scratch and with his own money.
"I usually start off with a truck like an old FedEx or UPS truck and I go from there," Urt says. "Then I buy my materials from the Internet a lot and Home Depot -- that place really helps."
Now he's in the middle of building his second truck for a friend who will be starting a chain restaurant in Miami next month called Chicken Way, which he describes as an upscale Pollo Tropical. This time it will cost a bit more money -- around $70,000 -- because he must import specialized grilling equipment from Europe. But it will take only three months to build.
All trucks are built according to state and county laws. It's like building a house, Urt says.
And when he's not slinging chow for hungry fighters, he is rolling around on the mat, practicing his grappling moves at the gym. He's been with Fight Sports for only two years and practicing Brazilian jujitsu for five. He doesn't have a black belt, but in Brazil, jujitsu is as much of a way of life as baseball is in the United States.
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Last October he fought in the middle heavyweight division at the Miami International Open BJJ Tournament and took third, and last summer he fought in the Florida State Brazilian Jiujitsu Championships where he took second place.
Urt's last tournament was a December competition in California, where he lost the first round to an opponent who eventually went on to win the tournament. He doesn't train as much as he used to because now his mind is focused on food truck success.
"Fight Sports is the best. Those guys are like my family," Urt says. "But I don't live for fighting; I live for the food business. I'm getting too old for fighting."