Rafa says he’s ready for no time limit, but asks for bigger purse

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Mendes beats Cobrinha in Worlds 2010 final. Photo: Ivan Trindade

Current featherweight champion of the world Rafael Mendes did some raining on the parade of the inspired idea of a no-time limit match between him and four-time world champion Rubens Cobrinha, which arose in the USA this week and had Jiu-Jitsu fans the world over at the edge of their seats.

Today Rafael told GRACIEMAG.com he is ready for a gi match to the finish, and said that, were it up to him, he’d be down for it too, after Cobrinha accepted the challenge yesterday, as readers found out here on the website.

However, Mendes, who recently won a good chunk of change with his conquests at ADCC 2009 and the World Pro 2010, asked for a hike in the purse. Now the ball is in the court of the project’s investors, as you will find out to come:

The question every GRACIEMAG.com reader wants to ask: Are you going to take this “dream matchup” with Cobrinha, with no time limit and to the finish?

I see no problem in taking this match, I’d take it. But they have to pay my price. I’ve already replied to Bray’s (Deavours, one of the project’s originators), and told him just that. I don’t have to prove anything to anybody, I fought the whole year, more than one competition per month. But to fight with no time limit I asked he pay what I’m worth.

They offer the winner 10 thousand dollars, and the loser takes nothing. Do you feel at least the format for the match was a good idea?

Yes, but I’m not going to do a no-time limit match just because it’s a good idea. I want to make it clear that I have no problem with facing Cobrinha or whoever else they might want me to face. I entered this division in 2009 when I got my black belt and faced everybody, I beat the best, and now I’m number one, so I ask that I be valued as such. I understand they want to put up money to see this no-time limit match, and I’ll do it. But they’ll need to pay my price. If they really want to see this match, all they have to do is really invest in it.

There’s also the prestige…

But I don’t feel that I’d be fighting for prestige because I don’t feel obliged to prove anything, I’m the current no-gi (ADCC) and gi (Worlds) champion of the world. To me the fight is truly interesting for Cobrinha, who would certainly accept the first offer, regardless of what it is, to try and get back what he lost. So that’s all I can say, I’ll do it, for sure, I’m ready as I’ve always been. But if they want to promote something big like this match, I ask that they pay what it costs. Best regards to all!

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There are 34 comments for this article
  1. Greg at 5:09 pm

    I wish he would just say what he was asking for.. Anytime someone says “I would do it but”.. none of the matches have ever been ended by sub, so what prestige is there?
    This is a fighting art, for the submission.. Do it for the fans, do it for the love of the sport. If only out of good sportsmanship.

  2. Mike at 5:35 pm

    $10,000 isn’t enough? Pay what he’s worth? This isn’t MMA or boxing, 10K is more than enough for ONE match against someone who he’s so “confident” he can beat. I think he is scared, because he does have something to lose. The submission will prove who is the better artist, and his 50/50 won’t win it for him this time.

  3. Chritofer at 5:50 pm

    Rafael is totally right! he knows that these guys want to make money with this fight, people will have to pay to see on the Internet, Rafael is the current world champion and ADCC.
    He is right to ask for more money, if those sponsors do not have money, do not invent history.
    He is a professional athlete, there is no fight for the love of sport, jiu jitsu is his job!

  4. The General at 8:32 pm

    @John-Rafa is one of the most generous and kind people out there. He is not Greedy at all. When you are a real fighter you should get paid what you are worth.
    The promoters make a lot of money, so should the fighters.Rafa is no Rickson, but it is the same thing with Rickson. He was the best in his era and if people wanted to have him fight they had to pay for it. To me this is how BJJ tournaments should be anyways. Take away the points, and focus just on submissions. If the promotors where smart they would also try to get Roger vs Xande or Roger vs Drysdale, and Eddie vs Royler. Then the real money would come intot he event.

  5. Mr. T at 9:40 pm

    Rafael is the CHAMPION! if they want to see Rafa x Cobrinha only submission, have to pay!
    Rafael Mendes = ADCC , World Champion, World Pro Champion, Brazilian Champion, (all x Cobrinha)

  6. Jordan Burton, III at 1:08 am

    Okay, here is my take. I don’t blame Rafa for “demanding” more than $10,000. He IS the current champion and the ADCC pays $50,000 to the winner of their super fight. I read a guy saying something about “$10,000 isn’t enough?” If Rafa believes he’s worth more than that for giving his time to the Super Fight for “our” pleasure, that is his right. I mean, no disrespect to Cobrinha; but, Rafa is 3-0 to my knowledge against Cobrinha. That is a reason he can say, “I don’t have anything to prove to anybody.”

    It is like Frankie Edgar having to immediately rematch BJ Penn in principle. Rafa has shown his ability to win, so “match makers” making this fight no-time limit and to the finish to appease the purists. I mean, if Cobrinha had beaten Rafa 3 times and shut down the 50-50 tactics, would this match with these rules be in demand?

  7. Jordan Burton, III at 1:28 am

    I’m going to answer that question and say … NO! And to the first poster, Greg, Rafa Mendes LOVES Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu; but, this man is not an amatuer. He is a straight up professional through and through. I am a fan of grappling (all forms and disciplines included); but, he doesn’t have to do it for me or other fans. Clearly not something of this magnitude either for the “love of the sport”.

    These men have PRIDE. And I am assure he hasn’t checked the proverbial ego at the door – that is why he is a champion like Kobe Bryant, Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, Dan Gable, and the like. He’s probably a little agitated at the offer and the straight up principle behind the offer. I mean, read the way he answers the questions and you can hear and feel the tension and defensiveness of Rafa.

  8. Jose at 2:06 am

    Rafa is not greedy at all, he is the most sincere, honest, and hard working guy there is. In ADCC and even in Grapplers Quest they would pay more just for one super fight, that’s why he is asking for what he is worth, plus he has beating cobrinha 3 times, not by submission but cobrinha had hes chances, so Rafa has nothing to prove. We trying to make jiu-jitsu a professional sport and he’s doing a right thing to pay for what he is worth

  9. Greg at 11:06 am

    Kobe Bryant, Larry Bird.. also play a team sport, and fill a arena with 40,000 people and another million+ watching from home. All I am saying is if he can fight the worlds which has no purse, and the ADCC for a 10,000$ purse which are multi fight tournaments.. then why not do one match for 10,000$. I dont agree there is nothing to prove, or nothing to gain. This sport is about the submission, and neither one of the comeptitors have made it to that.

    I mean is there something else he could be doing that earns 10,000$ in under an hour? Last I heard they were touring doing seminars.. now thats multiple hours of work.. even if you had 100 guys paying 100$ for the seminar he would then have to split that with his brother.

    I just want to see the fight, i want to see who the best is at submission. This is a fighting art, points should be secondary.. not the primary means to define a win

  10. Sharbjj at 12:12 pm

    @Christofer – your point might be valid except that these sponsors’ offer on the table is already the largest purse for a single gi fight in history. He has never made as much for a single fight. How much ‘more’ does he want?

    @TheGeneral & @Lazaro – are you and he saying that he is worth more than $10k? If so, I guess that means that he won’t be competing in any other tournament/fight in the future because none pay more than this. Ok – the world pro paid $12k but you had to win several fights over the course of 2 days. The logic doesn’t hold – this fight isn’t worth it to him because the rules don’t favour his strategy against cobrinha — to stall for 90% of the match tied up in the 50/50, but I don’t blame him for not wanting to fight.

    @Cainan Brian & @Mr. T – Cobrinha won every major tournament that he entered for 5 consecutive years (at black belt). His aggregate accomplishments FAR exceed what Rafael has done thus far. Perhaps Rafael will surpass Cobrinha’s accomplishments at some point, he certainly has the skills but he will never do it running away from fights. Yes, this has been Rafael’s coming out party year – all the more reason to accept this fight.

    @Jose – ADCC superfight is the only single fight payout higher than this one, and it is reserved for the big boys … until Rafael wins the ADCC Absolute, he won’t be fighting in any ADCC superfight. As for GrapplersQuest – have they ever paid $10k for a gi superfight? Who? I think you’re talking without knowing what you are talking about.

    @Jordan – ADCC pays $40k to the superfight winner, but Rafael is not even close to contention for that so it is a mute comparison. You might as well argue that he could get $400k to win the UFC heavyweight title. As for Rafael & Cobrinha’s fights, they have split their gi matches with both winning 3 fights each. Do some homework before posting trash.

    All this talk about how Rafael is correct to ask for more money is crazy. He is already being offered more money than any single fight has ever paid him. It seems a clear sign that he is afraid that the proposed rules don’t play to his “lay and pray” strategy against Cobrinha. He is more afraid to lose than he is excited about the chance to win. And you guys call him the ‘champion’. Ha.

  11. Jordan Burton, III at 1:28 pm

    What you are … let me say that I like the numerous comments on this topic. Anyhow, what you are ignoring Greg is the “PRINCIPLE” behind WHY Rafa is demanding more money. My point is, if Cobrinha (a fan-friendly grappler) won 3 times to nill versus Rafa Mendes, this “Super Fight to the Submission” wouldn’t be. What … are they going to say Rafa cannot use the “50-50 guard” next?

    This is sport Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. At the black belt level – the elite of elite black belt level – sometimes styles and tactics are going to cancel each other out. The sport may be “about submission”; but, winning a “grappling match” on points is very possible as well. I mean, guys from the same Affiliation without being on the same team have the choice to close out a division! That a’int a submission, my man – that’s negotiation.

    Like Rafa has said, he is 3-0 against Cobrinha. Cobrinha has 10 minutes and in the ADCC 40+ minutes to submit him. Rafa won on points … let the fight again at another IBJJF championship or a “Super Fight” where The Champion gets what he believes he is worth.

    PS. I wouldn’t mind Rafa going Sakuraba-versus-Royce-1 and saying, “Okay, I’ll do it then doing IT.” But, respect his principles too.

  12. Sharbjj at 2:31 pm

    @Jordan Burton – Rafael is NOT 3-0 against Cobrinha! In the gi, they have both won 3 times. Cobrinha beat Rafael at the 2009 Capital Challenge, 2009 Pan, & 2009 World Championships. Rafael beat Cobrinha at the 2009 WorldPro, 2010 Brasileiros, & 2010 World Championships. You keep getting this wrong, yet you are using it as a premise for your conclusions.

  13. Jordan Burton, III at 4:24 pm

    Okay, excuse me if I am wrong in the record between Mendes and Rafa. Please, feel FREE to tell me if Cobrinha won by submission or not.

    Now, even with the gi records being “even”; Rafa is the Champion with the more bargaining leverage at this point. It seems as though some cannot understand the reasoning WHY Rafa demands and CAN demand more money for HIS time in a “special rules” match. I hear the points on Mendes being “scared to lose”; but, I absolutely am not buying that. I 100% agree with him saying, “I don’t have anything to prove to anybody … But to fight no time limit, I ask him to pay me what I’m worth.” You cannot knock him for thinking for HIS time to “our” delight that he is worth more than $10,000.

  14. Greg at 4:58 pm

    So Cobrinah is more accomplished, more titles, more wins overall. But it makes sense that Mendes is the one asking for more money?

    Like someone else said this is the highest single gi match ever offered.. How much more could he want, i want to know if its something crazy like 40k.. or if he is asking for money even if he loses.

  15. Jordan Burton, III at 2:35 am

    In my opinion, Mendes has the leverage since he won the ADCC 2009 and the 2010 Mundials – the 2 MOST PRESTIGIOUS titles that Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu are involved with. He has the leverage (to ask for MORE money) because his recent wins over a soon retiring Cobrinha have caused a polorazing frenzy due to his 50-50 guard/tactics. I give Cobrinha the nod for his wins over Rafa (and thank all for educating me on that); but, everybody knows Rafa is the reason for a match with “special rules”.

    Again, I believe if Cobrinha beat Rafa in the 2009 ADCC and 2010 Mundials their would NOT be a demand for this “Super Fight to the Finish”. Now I could be wrong; but, we can leave that to the guys on ESPN on their special “What If?” specials.

    I will close in saying that once again, I understand Rafa’s principle on this topic. And, if you want a man to do something special for HIS time, pay him HIS price (if he was to win).

  16. adr at 10:09 am

    I could see his point IF he had won fair and square. But he didn’t. That’s the whole reason why the sponsors suggested this match. Everyone knows that he “won” on advantage points because he stalled the whole time. It was not respectable jiu-jitsu. Everyone wants to see a match where he is forced to actually fight. I believe he would lose and he does too. That’s the reason why 10k isn’t enough. That’s the reason why no purse will be enough.

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