Keenan Cornelius was a brown belt for less than six months. Even so, he went head on at the recent World Pro NYC trials and got himself a gold medal, a bronze medal and an all-expenses-paid trip to the 2013 WPJJC, in Abu Dhabi, UAE. To do that, he had to face and beat well-rounded black belts. In the final in his weight division, he defeated the 2009 no-gi absolute black belt world champion, Roberto “Tussa” Alencar. In the absolute, he ended in third palce, after losing to Roberto “Cyborg” Abreu in a close match. In this quick interview, Cornelius talks about his performance in NY and reveals the (not so) secret recipe for the talent coming out of Lloyd Irvin’s school.
Was it the first time you competed against black belts? How was the feeling?
Yeah this was my first time fighting black belts! It was a lot of fun but I train with some of the best black belts in the world, JT Torres, DJ Jackson, Jimmy Harbison and master Lloyd and nobody brings the heat like they do. So I felt more than prepared.
What can you tell us about the battle against Roberto Tussa Alencar?
Tussa was the hardest fight I had that day!! He has really good passing and pushed the pace the whole fight but I had a game plan for him and stuck to it and attacked a lot of sweeps and made sure I had good guard, recovery grips and I was able to pull it off even when he started raking in advantages at the end.
There is a lot of talk about your fight against Cyborg. Do you feel you won that one?
I lost the Cyborg match, I didn’t pay close enough attention to the score and wasn’t aggressive enough in trying to get the two points back. It won’t happen again.
A lot of good new talents are coming from Lloyd Irvin’s school. What is the secret recipe?
I think it’s just great coaching, great team mentality and hardwork!
Check out Cornelius’ battles against Cyborg and Tussa at the WPJJC NYC Trials.