The 2011 Pan crowned Rodolfo Vieira the grand champion. In winning both his weight group and the absolute, the GFTeam prodigy on two occasions had to overcome Bernardo Faria, precisely the person to win both the gold medals the previous year.
However, the mats in Irvine were the stage to numerous others who put in brilliant performances on the day. Shortly after winning, the champions voiced their excitement in interviews with the folks from Budo Videos, which made the live internet broadcast.
Check out the first words out of the champions’ mouths and stay tuned to the GRACIEMAG at the Pan Blog:
“I was worried about his half-guard sweep. But I trained a lot for it. It’s my first Pan, and thank God I started out well, winning my division. Now it’s about going full blast into the absolute,” said Rodolfo after beating Bernardo in the heavyweight division.
“I’m feeling super-, hyper-happy! I’d trained a lot, but one is never sure if they’ll make it to the finals of such a tough competition. I thank God for letting me win. Bernardo always scares me. His half-guard is really tricky to pass, but I hung on on top,” he added after capturing his second gold, this time in the absolute.
“I’m overjoyed to have closed out the absolute with Luanna. In the (heavyweight) final I had to change my game and I’m not surprised by the takedown I ended up taking. I changed my game a lot with the help of Fabio Gurgel and Coach Edson Ramalho, but the focus is the same as always: get on top,” said Gabi Garcia, heavyweight champion and runner-up in the absolute, which she closed out with Luanna Alzuguir.
“It was like a dream, because I consider her (Hannette) one of the best in Jiu-Jitsu. I took gold in the absolute because last year I closed out with Gabi and she took first place,” Luanna Alzuguir, medium and open weight champion.
“I trained a lot and tried to do everything I worked on, to represent Gracie Barra well. I love my family, I love Gracie Barra!” Rafael “Barata” de Freitas, roosterweight champion.
“Bruno Malfacine is hard to deal with, which is why I like watching his matches. He’s one of the toughest guys out there. I’m grateful for today, not just because of the win but for not getting hurt. I came and fought against the will of my doctors,” Caio Terra, light featherweight champion.
“We have no secrets. The secret is train hard to make it here,” Rafael Mendes, who closed out the featherweight division with Bruno Frazatto.
“It was incredible, I learned a lot!” Lucas Lepri, lightweight champion with Michael Langhi.
“It’s a position I practice a lot in the gym. I worked on it in training and it worked out. I set my strategy according to the match. If he pulls guard first, I try and pass,” Claudio Calasans, middleweight winner, following his wrist-lock win over Lucas Leite.
“After my last MMA match I started putting on the gi more. That’s my roots and I’m back. When I was a white belt he (Eduardo Santoro) was already a black belt. I know his guard is really tough and I knew he’d be trying to finish me the whole time. I thank everyone at Atos who helped me to train for this event. I got the timing of the positions down pat and now I’m back,” André Galvão, medium heavyweight champion.
“It was a good match, Bruno Bastos is really good and strong. I swept, opened up room for the finish, and I’m pleased. It’s my first Pan title at black belt in the gi,” Marcus Bochecha, superheavyweight champion.
“At this level there are no easy matches. Everyone competing here is tough. I came and did my best, as always. Thanks everyone! Look for me at the Worlds, I’ll be there for sure!” Braga Neto, ultraheavyweight champion.