Erberth Santos is on fire in 2016. In his second year as a black belt, the heavyweight from Ralph Gracie team has had great results in every event he entered.
After a 2015 Worlds that ended without medals, Erberth regrouped and went for it in the new year. He won the heavweight division at the European for the second time in a row and finished third in the open class after an all out war with Felipe Pena in the semifinal.
In Abu Dhabi, Erberth got back at Pena with a 7-2 win in the 94kg final, but could not face his big rival in the open class final after the referee decided to disqualify both fighters in the quarterfinal against Victor Honório. Back in Brazil, Erberth made his way to his second open class title at the Brazilian Nationals in a tough match against Rodrigo Cavaca.
We caught up with Erberth as he puts the final touches in his preparation for the 2016 Worlds and he talked to us about his training ethics, mindset, experience level and the rivalry with Pena.
GRACIEMAG.COM: You are about to compete in your second world championship as a black belt after a debut in 2015 where you could not secure a medal. What lessons did you take from that experience and from the past 12 months competing to have a better performance at the 2016 Worlds?
Erberth Santos: In 2015 I went in with a lot of drive and little experience. I found out the hard way that at the black belt level you cannot make mistakes. Each tournament I compete in is another experience I stack up to be even better as a fighter.
GRACIEMAG.COM: You have had great results this season, with gold medals at the European, WPJJC and Brazilian Nationals, among other events. Did anything change in your game and your physical and mental training to reach a higher level of performance and results?
Erberth: I analyze each and every fight I have to correct my mistakes and evolve my game. I try to sharpen the techniques and also to get out of my comfort zone to test my self. This way I feel stronger and stronger physically, technically and most importantly mentally.
GRACIEMAG.COM: You and Felipe Pena have been protagonists of one of the most exciting rivalries in Jiu-Jitsu today. The possibility of fighting him once again in Long Beach is an extra motivation? Do opponents shape your way of training and fighting in any way?
Erberth: Actually, the rivalry is left for the fans. On the mat, you have two professional fighters looking to reach for their goals. I never fight or train thinking on my opponents, but rather on overcome my own limits.
The 2016 World Jiu-Jitsu championship is scheduled June 2-5, in Long Beach, California.
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