On Sunday, the two times world champion Bernardo Faria confirmed his favoritism in the ultra heavyweight division at Pro League in 2014, a professional league organized by IBJJF, and got the prize of $5000 in Long Beach, California.
In the final match, against the dangerous Luiz Panza (Checkmate), the Alliance black belt won with a choke from the back. Before the final, Bernardo Faria also submitted Gustavo Pires (GB) with a triangle.
In an interview with GRACIEMAG, Bernardo listed what he learned in Long Beach and commented the frenetic pace of submissions in the IBJJ Pro League.
GRACIEMAG: You seemed more aggressive, perhaps more confident in Long Beach. Was it a new Bernardo?
BERNARDO FARIA: I was very pleased with my performance and thank God I managed to win. But I do not think that was a new Bernardo. I’ve been managing to win my fights by submission, I remember the last World Championship I fought eight matches and finished four with a submission. In the last year’s World Championship, if I’m not mistaken, I submitted five; including, one of them was Panza. In this level is often not easy to submit, but I’m always trying. I believe my performance in the Pro League passed this impression because there were only two fights, there is this image of 100% of submissions, but only two happened [laughs]. I think I used the game that I always tend to do; I pulled half guard and started the fight there. Against Panza, we pulled guard together and I decided to go up because I do not like wasting too much time disputing who gets underneath. So I got on top soon.
I got in even more focused because he had already won our last match. But it actually does not change much, because I know that every day is a new day, every fight is a new fight, and even if you’ve already beaten someone ten times, does not mean you will win eleven. So, we have to respect our opponent, regardless of what is in the past. Everyone when it comes to fighting is liable to win or lose, no matter who is the opponent.
What is that choke detail you used against Panza?
He is a very dangerous athlete, and I’ve been watching his fights since last year. I walked quite prepared for what he could do and thank God it worked. I tried to put my game and do my positions, yet Panza still managed to get me in some positions. I was calm and kept the pace, then waited for the right time to attack. Once I got to the side mount, I couldn’t lose anymore. I was progressing to the back and got the choke. In the back, I tried to stay calm and be tight, waiting for the right time when he opened his neck and I could snap the choke. It was hard but it worked.
The Jiu-Jitsu circuit has been losing a lot of fighters to MMA. Do you think the IBJJF Pro League brings more value to you?
I hope so. Finally they implemented this idea and I hope it keeps evolving with the proposal to reward athletes financially. I’m hoping that next year, for example, instead of four championships in this model, they do one every month. And, that they increase the prizes value even more each time to pay the athletes because we deserve it. And, then who knows they decide to start giving reward at the Worlds? It is hard to see athletes from other sports dedicating themselves as much as we do, so I feel we deserve to be rewarded more than anyone.