Lightest absolute champion Caio now aims at No-Gi Worlds

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Caio against Barata at Las Vegas Open; photo by John Cooper.

Caio Terra is always competing. Furthermore, Cesar Gracie’s roosterweight trains the ground game with MMA beasts like Gilberto Melendez, Jake Shields, Nick and Nate Diaz. The repercussions from his winning the absolute division at the Las Vegas Open on the 14th are still rippling. But now Caio only wants to hear about his upcoming challenges, like the American National championship and World No-Gi Championship. Check out what he has to say:

You became the lightest absolute champion in IBJJF history. How might that affect your career?
I’d won the absolute division at Naga this year, and I did my first absolute at the American No-Gi Nationals last year and took third place. But winning it at a tough IBJJF tournament like that one was truly a surprise for me. It made me really happy. But I think the thing I was happiest about was not getting hurt…

You even stripped off the gi that very Saturday and entered the American Nationals, participating in one of the most controversial matches of the championship, when you were eliminated in the semifinal. Did you expect to go further?
I certainly wanted to win, but I think it would have been tough; I’d had a lot of matches that day and hadn’t eaten anything. It was a true marathon for me. In spite of everything, when I make it to a final I always come up with some extra gas in the tank.

If we want the sport to be professional we have to be professional in every way, not just in our physical ability” Caio Terra

You lost to Diego Herzog via an illegal move, when he crossed his leg over your knee. What do you think of that rule?
At the last four major tournaments I competed in there were four major errors: this one in Las Vegas, in the No-Gi Worlds 2009 absolute, in the final of the 2010 Pan and the final of the Worlds 2010, when my opponent clearly ran off the mat carrying me piggy back…
They were major errors that kept me out of competition. I feel mistakes happen, but they are bothersome for all the time and money spent in preparing, training and traveling. We need professionals who pay more attention; looking in for the outside, everyone sees the errors without needing a replay.
As for crossing the knee from the outside in, truth is I feel it could count, as could the heelhook. But if it counts for one it should count for the other. I was playing within the rules and if it counted I would have tried not to expose myself in that way.

You’ve been a ref before. What can be done to make refereeing evolve?
Referees should be professionals, like they are in other major sports. Until that happens, other viable things can be done, like obliging refs to redo the refereeing course, before the event. It’s normal that one makes mistakes, but a lot of people make too many mistakes because they don’t know the rules.

And why haven’t you been refereeing lately? Did you decide to dedicate yourself solely to your career as an athlete?
No, there’d be no problem in carrying on refereeing. Truth is that the public and practically the entire Jiu-Jitsu community also don’t know the rules, so spectators complain and argue things that don’t make any sense. Anyone who studies the rules properly will see that everything is interconnected and everything makes perfect sense. I feel all the black belts who compete and take their students to compete should know the rules and thus need to study them and take the refereeing course. If we want to make the sport professional we need to start being professional in every way, not just in our physical abilities.

Terra in No-Gi Worlds 2009 final against Carlos Holanda. Photo: Alicia Anthony.

What are your objectives to come? Any absolute coming up?
My main objective is the No-Gi Worlds 2010; I want to become three-time champion at black belt. I also have a superfight in New Hampshire two weeks from now, and I want to also compete at the Gi American Nationals in September, and perhaps I’ll compete in São Paulo at the end of the year. Whether I enter the absolute or not I decide on the day, if I’m feeling well I compete, otherwise I’d rather spare myself to not risk getting injured.

Who do you have to thank for this good phase you’re seeing?
I want to thank my sponsors Budovideos, Shoyoroll, Dethrone and Versatile Fighter for their support, and all my students for helping me train and everyone who reads this interview and wants to carry Jiu-Jitsu forward. If you have any comment or opinion don’t keep from expressing them.

Check out Caio at the 2010 Pan:

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