Last Saturday, the 6, UFC 109 had hardly come to a close and already the question on Jiu-Jitsu fans’ minds had nothing to do with the final fight of the night, between Couture and Coleman, or any other bout on the main card.
The puzzlement was regarding the evening’s opening bout, while the Mandalay Bay arena was still empty, and spectators were just filing in.
Against Joey Beltran, Rolles Gracie, 31, delivered far less than was expected of him and, wracked by fatigue, he lost via referee intervention in the second round – Rolles had gotten the submission in all his prior challenges.
GRACIEMAG.com asked the fighter’s team what had happened, and published the explanation early Sunday morning: apparently adrenaline had undermined the athlete’s preparations, consuming him and consuming his stamina.
On returning from Las Vegas, Rolles spoke with GRACIEMAG.com via email. Here’s what he had to say:
What must be most bothersome to you at this time is seeing that all the hard work you put into training didn’t yield the desired result. What conclusions have you reached since this fight?
Sure, all the hours of training and time spent away from my family, it seems it didn’t pay off. Of course this bothers me. But I also learned how I need to restructure my training program. The truth is that I didn’t perform to expectations and to my best, what I need to do now is train harder and keep fighting.
The impression from the outside was that up until your mounting everything was going according to plan… When did you feel the fatigue?
I think anyone who watched the fight could easily see that things were going well for the first few minutes. The first round was mine. To be honest, I don’t really remember when the exhaustion set in, but it was probably in the end of the first round. I should have paced myself better but I kept pushing forward and exhausted my energy.
Did the change of opponent, seeing before you a completely different guy, influence you in any way, perhaps subconsciously?
I’d be lying if I said that it didn’t effect me. But, this happens all the time. In fact, 3 out of my 4 fights had changes in opponents due to injury very late in the game and one fight was cancelled altogether, too late to even find another opponent. It’s part of the business and you just have to try to adapt and move on
How have you dealt with the criticism?
I understand the fans are disappointed. I appreciate all the support I received and I wanted to put on a good show. What can I say? It wasn’t my day. I mean, this is MMA, not golf. The fans are a different breed and when they are angry, they definitely let you know. With the internet, Twitter, e-mail, Facebook…everyone is so accessible and with the click of a button, you can tell an athlete exactly what you think of his performance. That’s just the way it is these days and I’m glad to be a part of a sport where the fans are so enthusiastic.
Any message to your fans from NY to Rio?
I’ve really enjoyed interacting with my fans. I always appreciate the comments, negative or positive. So keep them coming. I’m looking forward to fighting again soon. I’m already a better fighter coming out of this experience.