Marcelo Nunes, 21, was born in Itu, São Paulo state. The brown belt from Robert Drysdale team team won his most important title so far far from home, however, at the ever more prestigious Arizona BJJ State Championship 2010 promoted by Gustavo Dantas, which took place last weekend.
Superheavyweight and absolute champion Nunes, who now lives in Las Vegas, Nevada, spoke with GRACIEMAG.com about his perfect win: getting the tapout on all his opponents and not suffering a single point against him.
What was it like winning the Arizona State Championship, now one of the championships in the USA carrying the greatest prestige?
I train hard with Robert Drysdale, and I’ve had some really good training partners in Las Vegas. The Arizona championship was high level, really well organized, with lots of tough guys competing. I managed to fight well, getting the finish on all my opponents and not having a single point scored against me. I’ve been training a lot. My focus now is to train hard to go into next year’s World Championship strong. That’s what I’m preparing for.
Now will you compete at the 2011 Worlds as a black belt?
That’s up to Professor Drysdale to decide. He knows me, and he’ll decide what the best path for me is. If he thinks I should go in as a brown, I’ll go as a brown. If he gives me a black belt, I’ll go in with the same confidence. I’m ready to fight at any belt. Every Jiu-Jitsu practitioner’s dream is to have a black belt around their waist. But it must all come in due time; there’s no point in taking steps longer than your legs. I know it’s tough to make your black belt debut at the Worlds and make it onto the podium: it’s a whole different level from the other tournaments, requires experience. No one is going to win the Worlds without competing at smaller tournaments. Experience counts a lot.
What’s your assessment of Jiu-Jitsu in Arizona and the USA these days?
People used to think it was easy to compete in the United States, that there weren’t so many good teachers, that the athletes weren’t that well prepared. These days there are great teachers in the USA, and Jiu-Jitsu is evolving a lot. The Americans are getting better and better every day.
Do you plan to stick around the USA teaching and training?
I’ll stay here till November training Jiu-Jitsu and MMA and teaching at Robert Drysdale’s gym in Las Vegas, and then I’ll return to Brazil for two months to take care of some things. Then I’ll be back here again to prepare for the next year’s Worlds.
What are your plans for the future?
I plan to train a lot to compete in anything that comes up, and then I want to fight MMA. I want make my MMA debut about a year from now. I feel Jiu-Jitsu gets us on the path, and MMA gets us money, especially in the USA. Here it’s all about MMA.
How do you plan on making this transition from Jiu-Jitsu to MMA?
I’ve been training a lot of boxing. I plan to get my black belt, compete for some time and then I think I’ll drop the gi. My idea is to train a lot without the gi and then do MMA.