Just how rough is it on South Florida's roads? Two pool guys found out after a run-in with a bulked-up mixed martial arts fighter.
It started in a most familiar way. Pool service man Juan Uribe and his boss, Michael Caccavella, didn't take off on a green light quickly enough for Brazilian jiu-jitsu competitive fighter Fernando Rodrigues, behind them in a Hummer.
Monday afternoon's incident, along a busy stretch of North State Road 7 in Coral Springs, soon escalated. Before Uribe, 25, of Coconut Creek, could calm things down, Rodrigues, 31, who has served two military tours in Iraq, allegedly pistol-whipped him in the face, then placed him in a wresting hold by the side of the road.
"He was a big guy. I didn't want any part of him," Uribe said Tuesday. "I don't remember much after he hit me."
Caccavella, who also was carrying a gun, said Tuesday that he came close to shooting Rodrigues in order to help his assistant.
"I was ready to shoot him and do everyone on earth a favor. I pulled the trigger, but realized I didn't have one in the chamber," said Caccavella, 54, of Lake Worth. "This could've ended really bad for everyone."
Among the charges against Rodrigues, a Coral Springs resident, are three counts of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon — his hands.
Caccavella had a black eye and a gash on his cheek. Uribe had fractured bones around his left eye.
Rodrigues, a co-founder and trainer with American Top Team, widely considered one of the top MMA training facilities in the world, appeared in bond court early Tuesday, where his attorney tried to argue for a lower bond. But Assistant State Attorney Eric Linder successfully argued that Rodrigues' hands and feet should be considered deadly weapons and he should be jailed without bond.
Everyone at Monday's scene was handcuffed and questioned, but only Rodrigues was arrested.
According to Caccavella, Rodrigues began driving aggressively behind the men after they pulled out of the light. Caccavella said that when he tried to pull into another lane, Rodrigues pointed a gun and yelled obscenities.
Caccavella said he pulled over to call police. As Caccavella was dialing 911, Rodrigues allegedly walked up to Caccavella's truck window and struck him in the face with a gun. He allegedly struck Uribe with the gun as well.
Caccavella said he then drew his gun and saw Rodrigues kicking and punching Uribe. The fighter then allegedly placed Uribe in a wrestling hold. Caccavella said police arrived just as he pulled his trigger.
Rodrigues is charged with burglary of a structure and burglary with an assault for allegedly reaching into Caccavella's truck and striking him. He also faces two counts of aggravated assault with a firearm.
Stefanie "Supergirl" Guimaraes, a mixed martial arts fighter identified as Rodrigues' fiancee and business partner, was in court but did not comment. Rodrigues' attorney, Samuel Rabin, said it was too early in the case to comment.
"We're investigating what happened and hope this all gets resolved quickly," Rabin said.
Rodrigues' biography on American Top Team's website says he recently was put in charge of the organization's campus in Aventura, where Guimaraes is his assistant.
Rodrigues, who has no arrest record, attended the Citadel and was in the Marines. Most of the blemishes on his driving record came in 2002 and 2003, when he got four speeding tickets within a year, records show.
Both Uribe and Caccavella said they are fans of mixed martial arts, but had never heard of Rodrigues.
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