Andrea Verdemare, 25, has nothing but respect for his opponents Bruno Malfacine, Caio Terra, Felipe Costa and Bernardo Pitel, not the mention the hard-nosed Japanese competitors in his weight class.
He does amuse himself by declaring, “I’m not the favorite, but I’m still first!” though.
The roosterweight is a true rarity in the Worlds 2010 to start up this June 3. He’s an Italian black belt. He’s the first of his ilk to compete in the adult division; he himself did the research.
“I’ve been training in Rome since 2002 with Professor Federico Tisi at Tribe Jiu-Jitsu Roma academy,” he begins. “I train and teach a lot, but I feel what distinguishes me from other competitors is that I spend eight hours a day working in an office. That gets in the way of my training, resting and training again like the other professional fighters do.”
Yes, Verdemare is a Jiu-Jitsu teacher in his off hours; during the work day he works in software development for an IT company.
“It’s really hard for me to reach the level of the other elite fighters because of my routine, but it’s still my dream. That’s where I want to be. And that’s why I forsake everything, all my time and energy, because my dream is to be a champion,” says the Italian, who has been through an experience “a la Jacaré” at a Worlds before.
“I’ve been competing at all the Worlds’ since the 2006 one, in Rio. My best result was silver in 2008 as a purple belt. I felt a bit like [Ronaldo] Jacaré because my opponent in the semifinal broke my wrist and I forged on and won. There was no way to go through with the final, though, because I only had the use of one hand,” he recalls.
Andrea has won several tournaments in Europe, but he’s famous in Italy for one no-gi win: weighing 56kg, he submitted an opponent weighing 115kg at a domestic edition of the ADCC.
“It was a true demonstration of technique over strength,” says he, who like any good Italian ends complaining… about GRACIEMAG: “After my black belt debut at the 2010 European Championship in January, the magazine wrote that Bruno Malfacine messed me up in a match. But when you fight a champion of his level, it’s all about not making any mistakes or leaving openings to get submitted. I couldn’t let him get my back because then there would be no way out. But anyone who watches the match on youtube will be able to appreciate my attacks and escapes.”
So what are the brave little gladiator’s expectations for the 2010 Worlds? “I want to bring honor to sport Jiu-Jitsu and – who knows? – maybe even surprise you guys.”
We’ll be watching. To check out all the coverage of the Worlds, don’t forget to visit the GRACIEMAG at the Worlds Blog.