“I’m changing my game,” said Roger Gracie this Friday behind the scenes at the 2012 European Championship, the welcoming Jiu-Jitsu tournament going on in Lisbon, Portugal, until Sunday.
“For my whole career as a black belt I got used to starting out slow and calm in my matches. I never felt the need to go all out against my opponents during the first two minutes, since a match lasts ten. I always started out slow and brought up the rhythm progressively, hitting max intensity towards the end. However, ever since losing in MMA [to Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal by knockout at Strikeforce in September 2011] it dawned on me; if I don’t change my way of fighting, I’ll lose again,” said the Rio de Janeiro, Brazil-London, England transplant.
The Gracie gave hints that he won’t be able to be an “explosive MMA fighter” so long as he remains a, shall we say, “excessively calm” Jiu-Jitsu competitor. The essence [Jiu-Jitsu] is what dictates the rules for all the other facets of Roger Gracie, even when he steps into the ring sporting gloves and trunks.
IN THE NAME OF THE SON AND JIU-JITSU
The Gracie gets emotional (teary eyed) as he remembers the moment he first caught sight of his son after his fight with “King Mo”. “I don’t want to ever feel like that again; my son is the most important thing to me, and I want to be the best example possible for him; so I can’t let myself go home defeated,” said Roger.
“So I’m focused on my MMA career now. I believe that, in the gi, this year I’ll only compete at the Worlds. That’s why I didn’t sign up for the European. I’d really like to compete at a high-level championship but my priority right now is MMA training. That was the big career lesson I learned from losing: I have to be more determined, enter the fight at a more intense pace. In Jiu-Jitsu, I often get taken down early on, but I have around eight minutes to recover, which is plenty of time. In MMA, one punch or a knee can end the fight instantly; there’s no time to recover from a knockout.”
Through the bustle of attending to the fans, students and friends surrounding him, Roger took the reporter’s question pertaining to the absolute black belt title in Lisbon: In the end, who’s going to be the big winner of the 2012 European Championship.
“Well, Rodolfo Vieira is the favorite, there’s no denying it. He’s been coming up with great results. But everyone has a chance. I got to see Lagarto training up close, for instance, and he’s in excellent form. But if what you’re asking is that I point out the favorite, there’s no denying it’s Rodolfo.”