World champion Otavio Sousa lives in a curious situation. Despite being the world’s best at middleweight, he is not the clear favorite for the gold at the Pan 2013 from March 20 to 24 in Irvine, Calif. The reason why? The almost unbelievable amount of tough competition that ended up falling in the toughest division this year – names like Leandro Lo, Kayron Gracie, DJ Jackson, Clark Gracie, Rafael Formiga, Vitor Henrique, Lucas Rocha, Marcelo Mafra etc… etc …
The Brazilian black belt under professor Ze Radiola (GB Pernambuco) chatted with GracieMag.com and revealed his plans to win, despite the respectful obstacles.
GracieMag: How is training going with all your friends gathered at Gracie Barra?
OTAVIO SOUSA: They’re perfect, now what I need to do is to control the urge to fight soon. My professor, Ze Radiola, my friends and training partners from Recife are almost all here with me in California. With that, I’m correcting mistakes every day, and people are giving me good strength. I’ve been training hard for a long time and now I’m 100 percent. I wanted to thank everyone who took part of my training, all guys who train at Romulo Barral’s gym, my students at GB Headquarters, and lastly all personnel from Gracie Barra.
What is your plan to return with the gold medal around your neck?
As always, middleweight is one of the most competitive, full of big names and with athletes coming from brown belt. Definitely there will only be great fights, and I will give my best. Now my game is quite sharp and tight and I see myself more mature, too. The mind is much better than some time ago, and I feel more confidant.
How does this mental aspect work during competitions, Otavio?
In my way of seeing Jiu-Jitsu, the mind is everything in the fight. If your mind is well on the day of the competition, and you have done your homework every day, the chance of you getting along is great. So I think I have those weapons to become champion at the Pan. The homework was done and the mind is great.
Did you learn from the defeats to Kron Gracie (Metamoris) and to your teammate Rominho (IBJJF Pro League) at the end of last season?
Every defeat only makes the athlete even stronger, at least in my case, because I hate losing. When this happens I start to train harder than ever not to lose again. No doubt they are both great athletes, both Rominho and Kron are very tough. These combats only made me even stronger for the 2013 season.