The evening of gi-clad action at the Copa Pódio event in Rio de Janeiro didn’t stand out only for the big excitement of the Heavyweight GP, but also for the first ever Couples Showdown, which was won by Augusto “Tanquinho” Mendes of Soul Fighters and his girlfriend Mackenzie Dern of Gracie Humaitá after outpointing opposing couple Leandro Lo and Luiza Monteiro of Cicero Costha Team on aggregate.
The first match between members of the two black belt couples had Augusto Tanquinho taking on Leandro Lo, and Lo came out on top by a score of 5 points to 2. The girls then took to the mats to pick up with the score their boyfriends had left off, and Mackenzie Dern managed to rally back with an 8-2 score, winning by 10 to 7 in the overall tally.
Once the dust had settled, Mackenzie’s boyfriend had the following chat with GRACIEMAG.com, where he details what he learned in the match and reveals that his bags are already packed for the European Jiu-Jitsu Championship.
GRACIEMAG: You and Leandro have faced each other a few times and know each other well. What was it like to meet up with him again last Sunday at Copa Pódio?
AUGUSTO MENDES: That’s right, we’ve fought a few times, and just like in the past, I feel it was a good match. It was very even, in my opinion—he scored the winning three points in the last 15 seconds of the match, just like I did the time before that, when I passed and mounted in the final 30 seconds. So, he capitalized better this time and deserves all the credit for the win.
Do you feel you made a mistake?
Yes, I deviated from my game plan towards the end, and paid for it. With 1:30 minutes left on the clock, I opted to pull guard, and did a bad job of pulling. Leandro made a meal of it and pushed the pace until getting the pass.
What lessons have you derived from the match?
When fighting black belts, you can make no mistakes, especially in a six-minute match. I need to iron some things out so I won’t make mistakes.
You handed a handicap over to Mackenzie, but she managed to pull off the come-from-behind win. Have you two spoken about it since the competition?
We haven’t said anything to each other about it. We already said all that needed saying before, during training and behind the scenes. We trained to be ready for any situation, so she was prepared to fight even if I handed it over to her with an advantage or disadvantage. And she was sensational.
And she went in all the more motivated…
That’s her nature. She always fights on the attack and hungry to win. Right after my match, I sat down on the ramp accessing the stage, and all I could think about was the headache I’d left her… Just look at her situation: It’s her debut as a black belt, only six minutes to fight, and against a top-tier opponent. And on top of that she starts off with a three-point handicap! All that just motivated her going in. But to me the main thing going for her was her desire to win. Mackenzie has carried that with her through all the belts, and at black belt it’ll be no different. She was simply incredible.
So what are your thoughts about the featherweight division at the European Open?
I confirmed my sign-up for the tournament yesterday. I was already planning to compete at featherweight, such that for the Couples Showdown I was well below the 76 kg weight ceiling we’d agreed to: I weighed 74.7 kg in jeans and a T-shirt. I preferred that to losing weight at the last minute. Now I’m even more focused on dieting and showing up at the tournament strong. The last time I fought at featherweight I took second at the 2011 Worlds, so I hope to do a good job this time. I’ll stick around here in Rio training with my team, and Saturday I return to the USA to train with Megaton and his guys. In Lisbon the fans can expect to see a Tanquinho focused on doing his best. It’ll be my return to the big tournaments since undergoing spinal surgery.
To check out who’s signed up for the European Open, click here!