Perennially tipped as a favorite at the Worlds, Antonio Braga Neto struck out the last two years. But this season Neto overcame the likes of Roberto Cyborg and then-champion Rodrigo Cavaca in capturing his second world title. More mature now, the fighter forges ahead in pursuit of a dream: to win the absolute. Hence he has put the opponent to beat under the microscope, Rodolfo Vieira.
Find out more in the interview below:
What’s your take on your performance at the Worlds?
It was a tough championship. Cyborg and Cavaca have both been on a roll, but I managed to impose my rhythm, carry out my positions, and overall it was really cool. The goal was to close out with Pé de Pano, but that didn’t work. It was a new experience and a dream I’m getting closer to fulfilling.
So what’s missing for you to fulfill this dream of winning the absolute?
The absolute is the greater goal, the title I’m missing. I managed it in all the other belts and I’m going to keep trying. This time I lost to Bochecha, who deserves props for what he’s been showing. He goes on the attack and has and offensive syle of Jiu-Jitsu. I was doing well against him but he managed to get to a good position and take my back. I just moved to the USA, so it’s hard to keep up the pace. To still be able to compete and win is great, though.
This time Rodolfo won the absolute. What is he doing that sets him apart? How can you try and contain him?
His physical conditioning is at a level all its own and he’s got great takedowns. Besides that, he has an absurd amount of determination; he goes with a position till the very end, never gives up. There’s a series of things that make him the best. I’ve been noticing the importance of physical conditioning these days, something I never did before but need to start. That’s my problem, I’m not doing things the way I should But I have a lot of things to add in life to reach my objective.
Now what is it that got you to win again, what made the difference this time?
I won in 2008, in 2009 I lost to Demente, and in 2010 I lost to Cyborg by a last-moment triangle. This time I managed to do what I wanted to; my positions came through and I kept my concentration. Jiu-Jitsu is a learning experience in victory and defeat.
What are your plans for after the Worlds?
First to recover from injury. I hope to set up an MMA fight. I want to make the most of the rhythm from the Worlds and not wait long. Who knows, maybe get to the UFC.