Rafael Mendes isn’t one to flee controversy. The success of the Rio Claro native has been stirring passion and hatred in the Jiu-Jitsu world ever since he made it to black belt. The biggest star on the young Atos JJ squad, Rafa has been on a spree collecting titles and fans. Such good results also attracted a few share of haters.
At the 2011 Worlds, Rafael will defend his featherweight title and then carry on in his personal pursuit of inscribing his name in the pantheon of stars of the weight class in particular and in Jiu-Jitsu in general. Training hard alongside brother Guilherme and the rest of the team in Rio Claro, Rafael took some time off to speak exclusively with the GRACIEMAG at the Worlds Blog.
In the conversation, he addresses the controversy he was embroiled in recently in Abu Dhabi, was humble when comparing himself to the featherweight aces of days past (although he did guarantee he intends to figure among the big names), rejected the label of staller he was given for using the famed 50/50 guard, asserted that he always fights for the finish, and spoke openly about how his faith in God plays into his life as a competitor.