European and Brazilian national champion Ary Frias is already warming up his turbines to, as he puts it, take an unforgettable “tandem flight” with training partner Guilherme Bendes at the 2011 Worlds.
Gui won the World Championship in 2009, the year Ary won it as a brown belt. Now, the goal is to rain on the parade of Minas Gerais native Pablo Silva, the current champ, who last year closed out the final with Samuel Braga, another Vinícius Draculino student.
First let’s talk about the Brazilian Nationals in Rio. Which was the match you learned the most from?
All three matches were really tough. I managed to make my first two opponents tap, and the final was a battle against former world champion Gabriel Moraes. I won on a trifle, on points, but I always have a submission up my sleeve. I’m facing older, more experienced guys, and even so I beat established names like Leandro Martins and Gabriel. I have great respect for those guys, after all, when I was still getting started as a yellow belt, those guys were already champions at black belt. So I feel all the matches were tough, but without a doubt the final was the most moving. And that was when I was crowned nine-time Brazilian national champion, from yellow to black belt. That’s pretty consistent, huh? Since when I was 12 years old I’ve competed at nine Brazilian Nationals and never lost in my weight division. I don’t think anyone has done that to this day.
What was the final like?
It ended 2 to 0, but I wasn’t up against just anybody, I was face to face with a world champion (2004). What’s most important is that the title stayed in place, since Gabriel is from Manaus, so Amazonas state kept the title.
Which do you feel was the best match of the Brazilian Nationals?
I saw a bunch of excellent matches, but without a doubt the one that caught my attention most was between Michael Langhi and Davi Ramos. They showed why they’re some of the best around. It was a war from start to finish, both of them showing the soul of warriors.
Cool, now what about the Worlds in June? Who are the contenders in your category, the light featherweight division?
The Worlds is the Worlds. It’s about time to see who put in the most work throughout the year, who’s donned the gi most, and who’s the most daring. The division is packed with aces – I’ve noticed about nine there who’ve shown they’re firing on all cylinders. The winner will earn the right to pound his chest and say he’s world champion, and the loser will be able to say that he fell to a beast of the sport. But my target is fixed, I want to shine brighter than the others and I’ve got my crosshairs on everyone. But obviously you can’t take the focus off the champions, Pablo Silva and Samuel Braga – two monsters.
At light feather will it be you and Gui Mendes representing Atos?
For sure, we’re going on a tandem flight, and we’re not going to back down to anybody, and it’s in God’s hands. I’ve never seen Gui like he is now before, in impeccable form. Our biggest objective is to leave the pyramid with the glory and the gold medal. We’re channeling all our energy and charging up our carburator for this Worlds. We’ll need to burn a lot of fuel over there; not just us but the whole Atos melting pot, everyone’s in great shape at the other weight classes, too.