Black belt Leonardo Nogueira is toiling away in training in São Paulo, from where he will embark May 31 for the World Championship in California, shouldering the responsibility of being the best in Brazil.
Léo won the absolute division at the May 16 Brazilian Nationals, but he secured the gold one day earlier, when he and his housemate Sérgio Moraes closed out the open weight class for Alliance.
Possessing an imposing guard game that has already carried him to world championship gold as a brown belt in 2009, Nogueira now wants the title coveted by all: the world black belt title, and in Roger Gracie’s very division.
“I’m going in at super heavyweight, stronger and much more confident. I’m also training as if to fight in the absolute too, but that’s up to Fabio (Gurgel); the guy’s really mysterious about it,” jokes the fighter who’s competing with Marcelo Garcia, Bernardo Faria, Sérgio Moraes and others for a berth in the open.
“We’re training a lot here and in the final stretch, going over guard-passing details. I’m aware my sweeps are well known, but these days I’ve been passing better than sweeping, I think,” said the man who swept Pé de Pano (and passed his guard) in the semifinal of the absolute at the Brazilian Nationals. Will Léo be ready to “succeed” Roger on the super heavyweight podium?