Felipe Pena is one of the greatest talents to come out of the Gracie Barra camp in recent years. The 2015 no-gi black belt open class and heavyweight world champion, put on the gi in 2016 and continued on his path of triumphs.
He achieved a double-gold campaign at the 2016 European and then won the $30,000 prize up for grabs at the 2016 WPJJC absolute division. After skipping the 2016 Pan, Pena is now completely focused on the 2016 World championship.
It’s going to be his first appearance after a year off in 2015 and also after having to forfeit his heavyweight gold medal at the 2014 Worlds, when he accepted sanctions by the United States Anti-Doping Association (USADA) for the presence of testosterone above the permitted levels.
With all that behind him now, Pena is looking ahead and aiming to achieve great things. We talked to him during a break in the final stages of his training camp for the 2016 Worlds.
GRACIEMAG.COM: The year of 2016 started really great for you, with the double gold campaign at the European championship and the absolute gold at the WPJJC. The 2016 Worlds could put you face to face with some opponents you still haven’t faced this year, like Bernardo Faria and Marcus Buchecha. How is your training camp? Does potential opponents influence in any way your training routine?
Felipe Pena: I’m training in a really intense level and, most importantly, with a lot of desire to win. There’s nowhere to run or to hide at the Worlds. I know I’ll have very tough opponents both in my weight class and the open class. Even so, I am not shaping my training routine to any opponent in particular. Sure I try to study the main guys’ games, but as there’s nothing but tough guys it’s a bit difficult to focus on someone before the brackets are out.
GRACIEMAG.COM: You competed in only one world championship as a black belt in 2014. You were out last year and is returning now. Could this hiatus be a problem? How’s your mindset coming in for the 2016 Worlds?
Felipe Pena: I believe I already have good baggage in terms of competing as a black belt. I have fought the best guys out there and each time I feel more mature and experienced. At the Worlds I’ll try to fight like I always do, with a lot of heart, desire and intelligence. I hope it turns out ok!
GRACIEMAG.COM: How hard on yourself are you? What kind of result do you consider a good result at the 2016 Worlds? Are you aiming for a double-gold campaign?
Felipe Pena: I guess high level athletes are always hard on themselves. No one likes to loose. I believe this kind of pressure is there for all of us and I try to focus on the good side of it. As a way to keep focused, I have grown accustomed to this feeling. I will fight both on the weight class and the absolute and I know it’s going to be hard, but I have been feeling great during training and that makes me feel happy for the competition.
Don’t forget to register for the 2016 World Jiu-Jitsu championship.
The final deadline is May 24.
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