The Leandro factor and other surprises in Abu Dhabi

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Leandro Nascimento (Cícero Costha Academy) ended Langhi's three-year unbeaten streak. Photos: Luca Atalla.

Michael Langhi isn’t used to losing. Perhaps that’s why, after dropping his match to Leandro Nascimento, the Alliance black belt shrunk to the ground and stared off into nothingness, in absolute desolation.

The reporter waited awhile for the most appropriate moment to approach the fighter – far from the arena, where the fighters awaited the shuttle taking them to the hotel. Langhi vented:

“I haven’t lost in around three years. . . It’s rough; I cried a lot, and I don’t think I’m going to sleep tonight. But it comes with the sport, I must commend Leandro on his performance. I gave it my best today, but my best wasn’t enough. . .”

Minutes later, already at the hotel restaurant, Langhi spotted Leandro having dinner with friends at a nearby table and headed over to congratulate him. Being a champion doubtless involves elegance. Leandro seemed quite pleased: “Last night I even dreamed I was going to fight Langhi, I was afraid it could have happened in a match like this one.”

What transpired was a very closely-matched battle – Leandro taking the lead by getting back mount: 4 to 0 on the scorecards. Now the winner heads into the under-74-kg final to face Celso Venícius, who defeated Rubens Charles “Cobrinha” via judges’ decision and Durinho in an exciting match that came down to the final seconds, when Celso scored the winning advantage point with the score tied at 2-2.

Celso (on top) and Durinho raise the roof with back-and-forth action.

Like Leandro Nascimento, Augusto Tanquinho was another standout this Thursday, taking on the Atos under-65-kg army. He beat Ary (4 to 2 on points), Gui Mendes (2 advantages after 4-4 draw), and Eduardo Ramos (2-1 on advantages). Now, in the divisional decider, Tanquinho will go up against yet another ace from the rival academy: Rafael Mendes, who made it past Marcelino Freitas, Gustavo Falciroli, and Bruno Malfacine.

Lucio Lagarto didn’t have it easy in the over-92-kg division. Right off the bat he was faced with Xande Ribeiro. “I’ve been working on a number of details with Roger in England, so my game has gained a good bit of sophistication in recent years,” he said after the bout. Perhaps it was those details that helped him beat Xande 3-2 on advantage points. Ater that, Lagarto beat José Junior on advantage points, having also beat him in the No-Gi Jiu-Jitsu version of the World Pro.

At the other end of the bracket Bochecha overcame Braga Neto with a footlock. Then he outpointed Caio Alencar, who previously beat Cavaca. The decider between Lagarto and Bochecha promises fireworks.

The under-92-kg-group final features man of the moment Rodolfo Vieira facing off with the always-game Bruno Bastos. Anyone counting on a repeat of the Pan 2011 final, between Bernardo Faria and Rodolfo Vieira, will have to wait (perhaps till the absolute. . .). At weight, Bernardo tapped out to Antônio Carlos Jr. in one of the most beautiful finishes seen this Thursday: a triangle-armbar double attack. Bernardo tapped to the armbar.

Now the winner of the under-83-kg weight class will be determined between Calasans (the big name from last year’s World Pro) and Vinicius Corrales.

In making it to the final, Vinicius defeated Rômulo Barral by 6 to 4, while Calasans overcame Finfou by three advantage points after a 2-2 draw.

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