At breakfast Friday morning at the Armed Forces Officers hotel, Lucio Lagarto and Marcus Bochecha were loading up their plates at the buffet when, unexpectedly, they bumped into each other.
The two over-92-kg finalists thus dug into each other: “Make sure in the final tomorrow you pull me to mounted position, aight?” fired Lagarto. “Heck, why don’t you just pull me to side-control, please,” replied the opponent.
The two smiled and slapped each other on the back. That was when Bochecha maneuvered his fork disastrously and let a piece of pineapple fall off his plate. The athlete crouched, picked the fruit up off the floor, and set it on a corner of the buffet counter. It went unnoticed by everyone else at the restaurant, except for the reporter’s imagination: could the fall of the pineapple foreshadow ill tidings for the CheckMat athlete.
We tuck the story away in mind and wait for the decisive match, which took place at 2:30 pm Abu Dhabi time this Saturday. There again the two fighters were face to face, now at the middle of the competition match area. Lagarto didn’t pull side-controls, as Bochecha had requested the day before. He pulled half-guard and from there engineered an overhead-type sweep: 2 to 0. Bochecha tried to rally back, but ended up conceding breaches his opponent capitalized on by reaching side-control. When time ran out on the clock, the score was 5 to 0 for Lagarto.
Still on Friday, the GRACIEMAG.com crew – nosy as always – cut in on the romantic stroll of Augusto Mendes and his girlfriend, the always lovely Mackenzie Dern. Loaded with theories, we asked the fighter: “Tanquinho, it can’t be said that you train more than Rafa Mendes, nor that he trains more than you. Both of you are extremely dedicated and focused on Jiu-Jitsu, both are at your peak and are on a roll heading into the World Pro Cup 2011 final. That said, what could make the difference in the fight?”
Tanquinho didn’t even stop to ponder the question: “Look, there’s really no way to say whether I train more hours per day than Rafa, but there’s no denying one thing: I’ve been training longer than he has. So I feel my experience will be a positive factor. Besides that, I know the rules better than he does, since I specialized in refereeing, too. I know it sounds silly, but it’s an important detail that counts in my favor. Now the thing that will make the biggest difference is who wants the win more. Let’s wait and see who that is,” replied the Soul Fighters black belt.
In today’s final, Rafa and Tanquinho fought to a 4-4 draw on points and 1-1 draw on advantage points, and Tanquinho’s advantage came at practically the last second of the match. The athletes knelt at center ring while the referee requested the votes from the side referees. Most of the crowd in attendance shouted Tanquinho’s name. The judge returned to the match area and raised the hand of Mackenzie’s boyfriend, who burst into celebration. Now Rafa Mendes was clearly dismayed by the result, not even stepping up to the podium to receive his silver medal.
“He did a good job moving around and I my gas wasn’t at its best. Congratulations to my opponent,” said Celso Venícius, still out of breath, after stepping down from the podium with the silver medal around his neck. The medals are awarded right after a final comes to conclusion, at the World Pro: the athletes go straight from the mat to the podium, without even time to catch their breath.
Celso’s statement referred to the under-74-kg final, which he lost to Leandro “Lo” Nascimento by 4 advantage points to 1 (the scorecard was 0-0 on points). There was no lack of praiseful posts for Leandro on GRACIEMAG.com in recent hours. And they are well-deserved. The black belt had a spectacular campaign this World Pro, defeating extremely tough adversaries before facing a valiant Celso in the final. One of those on the list was none other than Michael Langhi.
Check back with GRACIEMAG.com for part 2 direct from Abu Dhabi.