In the light feather weight division, no one could touch Gracie Barra’s Samuel Braga and Pablo Silva. Not only did they close out the division together, but they’re also friends and teammates who train under Professor Vinicius Draculino. What could be sweeter than that?
Last year’s Worlds was a little rough for Samuel Braga. He was in the finals with Guilherme Mendes from Atos. When Mendes won, Braga said he felt disrespected by Mendes’ sword move and he retaliated with a push. Sometimes in the heat of battle, it’s difficult to bring all that war-like energy back down to earth. Braga says it was a mistake on his part to overreact to Mendes’ celebration. He says he’s learned and grown from the experience.
This year, that was evident as Braga skillfully worked his way through three matches without incident. He displayed class and good sportsmanship in every fight and redeemed himself completely and thoroughly, showing the world the true champion he is.
Pablo Silva was facing his own demons this year as well. He lost last year at the Worlds in the quarter finals. He says it was controversial and left him hungry to come back and win it this year. “I trained so much for this show,” Silva said. Silva trains at GBBH and had already come out for the 2010 Pan. To get out here again for the Worlds, was no less than difficult. Like Braga, Silva also has an impeccable work ethic. His hard work and determination in the sport got him back to the Worlds this year and through all three of his very difficult matches.
Silva says he came this year to become champion. In his semi-finals match against Daniel Beleza of SAS, there was no way he was going to lose. At the beginning of the match, they both pulled guard. They were eventually penalized for not moving. Silva ended up on top and was awarded two advantage points for almost passing Beleza’s guard. As time ran out and Silva could see that he had won the match 3 advantage points to 1, he began to cry with happiness, knowing he was close to realizing his dream.
It was then time for Braga to fight his semi-finals match. He says he fought really tough guys this year. “They were all ready and wanting gold,” Braga says, “Every match was like a final. I tried not to make any mistakes and I fought as hard as I could.” His hard work and effort really paid off.
In his semi-finals match with Laercio Fernandes from Lotus Club, Braga knew it was “do or die.” He had to pull this one out. “I started with a sweep. Then I got in his half guard. I got good position on him.” The two ended up back in stand up and Braga pulled guard. He tried to sweep Fernandes, but was unsuccessful. “I put him in my closed guard,” Braga said, “and tried to attack. By that time, time ran out and I had won, 2-0.”
That left Braga and Silva in the finals. By gentlemen’s agreement they decided not to fight, and Silva took the gold because he had never won a Worlds title before. Braga said he was happy for his teammate. After watching every one of Silva’s fights and watching how emotional he was after his semi-finals fight against Beleza, he said it was his pleasure to take silver. That’s true friendship, class, and teamwork at its best.
Then the celebration began: Braga and Silva unfolded the Gracie Barra flag and held it up to the crowd as they were announced the 2010 light feather weight champions.
Silva said this victory was a dream come true for him and that he could not be happier. “This win is a reward for all my hard work and effort. Samuel helped me so much. We worked together for this. I want to thank Professor Draculino and my instructor, Uirapuru for their support.”
Braga said he achieved his goals. “Last year I had everything planned out and it didn’t work,” Braga said, “This year, I just took each match as it came. I wanted to be in the finals with Pablo, and I was. I want to thank my Professor, Draculino for all his support and Romulo Barral for his help and friendship. I also want to thank my mom. It’s her birthday. This is my present to her.”
Professor Draculino is very proud of his GB Team and especially of Braga and Silva. “Samuel has already proven to be among the best ever at the light feather weight division, winning the Worlds before and all the other major tournaments,” Draculino said, “Pablo is a newcomer. He’s won the Brazilian Nationals and other tournaments, but never the Worlds.”
Draculino says Silva “trains like a mad man. He literally lives in the academy at Gracie Barra BH. That effort was rewarded last Sunday. Samuel, a really great guy and a true friend, recognized that, even though he is the senior of the two, and more well known, it would be most appropriate to let Pablo have the title. Pablo is an example of how effort and dedication gets you there!”
Draculino went on to say, “I am really proud of them both. I also want to recognize Professor Marcelo Uirapuru Azevedo. He is the one who directs the training in Brazil while I am in America.”