Marcos Souza and the gold in Abu Dhabi: “The fear of losing made me the champion”

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Marcos Souza in the final match against Victor Estima, in the Abu Dhabi WPJJC. Photo: Dan Rod/ GracieMag

The black belt Marcos Souza (Bonsai) won the up to 82kg division in the fifth edition of WPJJC in Abu Dhabi. Marcos applied a takedown on Victor Estima to bring dollars and the gold medal to Japan, where he lives with his brother Roberto Satoshi.

As he tells GracieMag, the professor went through difficulties with his enrollment and ticket to fly to the capital of the UAE, and in the end the victory smiled at him.

GracieMag: You did very well in this category up to 82kg in Abu Dhabi. What was the determining factor to your win?

MARCOS SOUZA: When I woke up on the competition day I felt something different inside of me, I can’t explain. I had good energy and a lot of will to fight. When I qualified for the final, I watched my brother lose the semifinal to Leandro Lo in his weight. It was interesting, because at the same time I got sad, that made me stronger. I wanted so much to win for him because I didn’t want to see him completely sad. I just did enough to be the champion. In other competitions, I always go for the submission or I win by a good margin of points, but this time I admit that I played not to make a mistake and I did just enough to be champion.

How was the final with Victor Estima, the “Carcarazinho”?

Estima is a fighter who needs no comment, he has some of the most dangerous legs in the category. He is able to submit in any position, you know? I couldn’t miss. I can be much better than shown during the final. If he had swept me, for example, I would probably open the game to lead the score again. And if we fought standing up, I’d try a takedown. Anyway, at the end of the fight I even apologized to him. Victor told me: “If I was in your place, I would do the same thing. You knew how to manage the fight and won.” It was a major title at stake and I wanted to win more than ever. Regarding the takedown, I thought about pulling guard or letting him pull on me. I didn’t arrange anything and just went for it and took him down.

What was your worst moment in Abu Dhabi?

Hitting the weight, I was eight kilos over and had to lose them in one day. It wasn’t easy. And also when I saw my brother lost, I got very sad.

What do you think your brother Roberto Satoshi could have done to beat Leandro Lo and try to win the championship for the second time?

Satoshi has less than a year and a half of experience competing in the black belt division. He only lost two fights by points so far, and has won almost all of the light weight. He is always among the best three in the category. He is skillful and has an impressive will to win. My brother fights forward and it is impressive that he never thinks of a strategy, he gets in there and fights. In my opinion, to beat Leandro Lo today you need a strategy, because he has a different Jiu-Jitsu, unusual even. It’s hard to beat him.

What difficulties did you have until the podium? What happened?

The greater truth is that the fear of losing made me the champion. I went through many complications before landing in Abu Dhabi. Organizers in Japan hadn’t allowed the Brazilians to fight the trial, they demanded permanent visa or a Japanese passport. It was a fight for me to enroll in the trial. With the help of my friend Douglas Santos, I enrolled on the last day. But my brother’s ticket was missing. We taught in seminars in Hawaii and raised the money. Even defending the championship, things weren’t easy for Satoshi. The result of it all is that there was a lot of running around, and we ended up fighting the tournament without training (laughs)! I was not prepared technically. On one hand, it reduced my pressure to win, at the same time I was with a huge fear of losing. In the end, the fear made me miss very little and made me more strategic.

What lessons have you learned?

None of this lasts long: the fights, the gold medal and the prize money. The medal will rust one day, the fights will be remembered by a few people and the money is almost gone (laughs). The most valuable in Jiu-Jitsu is the opportunity to live special moments forever. Whether at breakfast, a hotel, in practice all together and even in the sauna, in every corner you have fun. The friendship and the good times last forever. The rest is fleeting, there are people and moments in Abu Dhabi that I will carry in my heart forever. Some people don’t really know what Jiu-Jitsu can do in your life and give more importance to be the champion or to a simple gold medal. Another important lesson: if only a few believe in you, fight for the few who believe. It is for them that you should give your best, no matter what others say. The dream is yours, chase it.

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