Rodrigo Cavaca is always vying for the top spots at major Jiu-Jitsu championships. At this year’s European Championship the CheckMate representative had a great campaign, taking first in the ultraheavyweight group and second in the absolute, losing only to Guto Campos. The black belt had the following conversation with GRACIEMAG.com:
How do you feel about your European campaign?
I had a good tournament. I trained starting at the end of last year with my students from Santos and Leo (Vieira) gave me a lot of important pointers. Before the event, I spent a week in Lithuania, getting ready with some students of mine over there. I had hoped to win the absolute title as well, but I think I did well. Guto (Campos) caught me by surprise and that’s how Jiu-Jitsu goes. Sometimes we win, other times we lose. The thing is to keep preparing yourself for next time.
What did you think of the level of competition this European Championship?
The championship is becoming more prestigious among athletes, especially the black belts, who increasingly seek to compete in Europe. The calendar year is opening with a very strong competition, almost equivalent to the Pan and Worlds. The gang holds off a bit on the holidays and Christmas to prepare themselves, but it’s worth it. The competition is getting tougher with every year.
What are your goals now?
I’ll compete in everything, just as I did last year. Two weeks prior I’ll head to the CheckMat camp in California. We focus on the Pan-American. I will join the Lucas Leite, Pantho and the whole gang. Leozinho will go, too, soon after that will be the World Pro in Abu Dhabi, I’m eager to go. Then comes the main one of the year, the Worlds. I’ve already struck out twice as a black belt and, for sure, this year I’ll be really prepared to take the world title, which I’m still missing.
Your team has shown strength at the European, with a lot of athletes from the Old Continent…
Last year we placed well in everything, but this year we went into the event with far fewer people. I think that for the number of athletes we went in with, compared to Alliance (the first place team), the outcome was great. We hardly took any athletes from Brazil and still managed to come up with significant results. I think this is a reflection of the work we are doing in Europe. We have a really tough group in Denmark, Sweden and other countries. The kid who won at weight and absolute as a purple belt (Alexandre Trans) kicked butt. So the thing is growing, and if we keep it up, we’ll place really well just with our European team.
In an interview published yesterday (see here, including the fight), your opponent in the super-heavyweight final, Antonio Peinado, said he doesn’t agree with the result. What did you think of the match?
It was hard fought. Peinado came in with the strategy of not letting me stick to him, because he knew I was going to pull guard. He was winning the man and made it to the side with his knee in my belly. But, in my opinion, he didn’t hold it long enough to stabilize the position and I was able to restore the guard. The crew from the Alliance, of course, are on his side and have the right to complain. But the referees assessed it and saw it my way, that it wasn’t held for enough time to consider that the position stabilized. That was the outcome of the match and Peinado and I will certainly face each other again, no problem, and there will be no confusion next time.