World Pro: absolute pays out 20 thousand dollars and entices even the little guys

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Diminutive Rafael wants to test 50-50 on big guys. Photo: Carlos Ozório

In the lobby of the Officers Club & Hotel, some of the favorites to win the title at the World Pro Jiu-Jitsu Cup, starting this Thursday in Abu Dhabi, gathered and mingled.

The subject was prize money for the absolute black belt division, which saw an 8 thousand-dollar raise, now paying 20 thousand dollars to the grand champion. “Wow. If I win I promise I’ll host a barbecue back in Los Angeles after the Worlds,” invites Rômulo Barral.

The banter and laughs don’t stop. Braulio Estima has a chat with Rômulo Barral and Alexandre Souza about the results from the Pan, especially Kayron Gracie’s middleweight title.

“I bet on him; the creature was too tough in training,” remarks Rominho, saying how the experience of giving technical and psychological pointers to the Gracie and Otávio Sousa, besides brown belt Lucas Rocha, pointed in the direction his future will take: to train the new generation at Gracie barra. “I liked preparing the kids for the championship. I’m getting old, starting to get too broken up in training and soon I’ll stop competing. I’ll only fight so long as I’m able to train hard as always,” says the Minas Gerais native, who often rolls 15 times on a single day in the lead up to a competition.

Sporting jeans and a polo shirt, Celso Venicius bids farewell and heads to his room.

That is where Rafael Mendes, his brother Guilherme and Claudio Calasans, absolute bronze at the Worlds 2009, already were. “How much? 20 thousand? Sheesh, even I’m going to go for it,” says featherweight Guilherme, meaning it. “You figure the 50-50 will work in the absolute?” he questioned.

“But of course! That’s what will save use! I’m in, too,” blurted Rafael Mendes, 66 kg.

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