Two thousand eleven absolute world champion Rodolfo Vieira is living a new phase in his career, with plans of shining in international MMA. But he took a short break to closely follow the 2017 BJJ World Championship in Long Beach. Graciemag got to talk to him after the event. Read on for the interview.
GRACIEMAG: What did you feel as you saw your sister Ana Carolina Vieira beat the more experienced Monique Elias by 12-0 in the middleweight final?
RODOLFO VIEIRA: I was very happy. I knew she was going to become champion; I had been expecting that, because I knew how much she trained. I was far away, but I was talking to her all the time, and I knew how much she was training and how confident she was in her victory. She was doing well in all areas — playing on top, on the bottom, trading takedowns. She had a very well-rounded game, very tight, with a lot of stamina, so it would be hard for her not to win this title. It was her first year as a black-belt, and she already won the Worlds. Now she has won all there was to win, except for the absolute. Unfortunately, this year she couldn’t compete in the absolute, due to a knee injury. We found it best to spare her so she could arrive well in her weight division, but next year she will be trying for double gold. As this is her first year as a black-belt, I reminded her she would have many absolutes to fight in. But it was a wonderful feeling; I was happier than when I won my own titles. She is a warrior, and she deserved this title with room to spare.
What advice did you give her after her win?
I told her, “This is just the beginning.” [Laughs.] I think she has a lot of room for improvement. Of course a gold medal like this in a World Championship proves her good work and shows she is at a high level, but there is always much to improve upon, still.
What is your take on the men’s absolute final, where Buchecha beat Lo by one negative point?
This absolute final was awesome! Seeing Lo and Buchecha fighting is always a spectacle, and seeing this in the final of the most important championship in the world, in the most important category in the world — there is nothing better. I was just not as anxious for the duel because I had already seen it several times at the gym. [Laughs.] I had seen it in Switzerland, in Ibiza; I’ve seen them spar, and it was always a war. But I was very happy for them. They are friends, I admire them a lot, and, regardless of who were to win, the title would be in good hands.
What did you think of it, technically speaking?
It was a tight match — after all, Lo is a different animal, very strong. But what Buchecha is doing in the sport, I think it’s very hard for someone to ever repeat it. It will be tough breaking this record, five-time absolute champion. There is no better person to set this record than him. A good kid — good heart, humble, simple… I’m biased, but I’m happy to see him make history. And Leandro is always impressive. Doing what he’s done this year, winning double gold in the most important tourneys of the year… Maybe he even arrived at this Worlds more tired, because he is not originally a heavyweight; he’s new to the category, so he is still adapting his body. I believe he got very worn out during the season, and, even putting on the show he did, I didn’t think he got there with all that power we are used to. But it was amazing to see them together, fighting this epic final. They both have very pretty, forward jiu-jitsu. So they deserved to shine on the Pyramid’s main stage.