Stoked about the Pan, even “getting squashed by the champs from Barra Gracie”

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Fabio Leopoldo will celebrate his 33rd birthday right after the Pan 2010, from April 8 to 11, and it’s not his age that has people looking at his as a tough guy from Jiu-Jitsu’s old guard.

Greater evidence of the long road he has taken are the Pan-American gold medal, in the black belt absolute of the remote year of 2002, and the fact he still talks about training sessions at “Barra Gracie”, inverting the order like folks used to do.

So Fabio is one of the stars signed up in the master division of the Pan 2010, which boasts more than 50 fighters this year, promising to be an entertaining sideshow.

Fabio Leopoldo faces Fabio Gurgel at Worlds in Rio. Photo: Gustavo Aragão.

“I’m in good shape, getting squashed up by the world champions of Barra Gracie, at the training sessions headed by Marcio Feitosa at GB America. After training with Braulio Estima, Romulo Barral, Otavio Sousa and Kayron Gracie (debuting at black belt), I feel I’m ready to face anyone at the Pan. More names are cropping up; I heard a rumor that Saulo Ribeiro will be in it, so it will be really cool. It’s never easy, but I feel a lot better than last year, when I returned to competitions after four years in MMA, and busy with the academies,” the former IFL fighter and Jiu-Jitsu teacher living in California says with a serene voice. Fabio now has 360 students in two academies, one in Ventura and the other in Thousand Oaks. Happy and fulfilled, he has had time and training partners to get in championship shape.

“My students have gotten tougher and my training has improved. These days here I have the lifestyle I always dreamed of. We have our students, I’m in practice, and I just returned from a wicked surf trip with my big wave rider friend Mancuzzi,” he says with a laugh. “I can feel the guys on my team are really happy in training, and very motivated to conquer a second team title. Alongside the work of structuring Gracie Barra in the USA, an ever-stronger competition team is cropping up.

Besides training at GB, Fabio will also count on another reinforcement starting this Monday: “Gabriel Vella called me and will show up to do his final training sessions here in Ventura,” he says in closing, referring to his childhood friend and current ultraheavyweight world champion, one of the favorites in the adult absolute, in Irvine.

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