Felipe Pena, Worlds purple belt title owner

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Felipe and his role model, Rômulo Barral / Photo: Deb Blyth

Not only did Felipe Pena of GBBH become a first time World Champion, but he became a double gold winner, sweeping both the middle heavy division and the open class at the 2011 Worlds. This was his first Worlds win.

On top of that remarkable feat, Pena’s idol and mentor, Romulo Barral and Master Vinicius “Draculino” Magalhaes surprised Pena with his brown belt as he stood atop of the podium with his gold medals around his neck. The surprise and exaltation on his face was priceless.

Pena’s had an incredible year so far and the 2011 Worlds was the icing on the cake for this talented 19 year old. He won the 2011 Pan in his division and at Fabricio Werdum’s Samurai Pro, the Phoenix Open and now the 2011 Worlds, he won both his weight and the absolute. “It’s been a good year,” Pena smiles.

At the Worlds, Pena had six matches in his division. He submitted five of his opponents and won one match by points. Pena says winning his division was incredible. “I can’t explain how I feel,” he says, “I’m so happy and satisfied right now.” And that was how he felt before he started his journey through the absolute.

In the open class Pena had four matches. He submitted two of his opponents and won two matches by points. He faced Marcos Da Silva twice, once in his divisional final and again in the absolute final. Pena beat him the first time with a submission and the second time by points. “All my matches were hard,” a fresh-faced Pena said, “I’m really tired. I may not look it, but I am.”

Pena said he had no idea he was going to receive his brown belt on the podium. “I heard someone ask Master Draculino about it and he said, ‘no, give him some time in his purple belt.’ So I didn’t know!” Pena said becoming the 2011 double world champion as a purple belt was the best feeling in the world. Getting his brown belt? “Not as good,” he laughs.

Pena is so grateful to his professors, Master Draculino (who said that Pena reminds him of an up-and-coming Roger Gracie), Professor Sergio Benini, Professor Marcelo Uirapuru, and mostly Romulo Barral. “He helped me a lot by training me and supporting me the last couple of months,” Pena said, referring to Barral, “He’s like a brother to me. I look up to him. He’s my idol. I want be like him and my brother, Tio Chico. I always try to be like them.”

As for his overall experience at the Worlds, Pena says, “It’s like a dream. I still can’t believe it. On Saturday, I thought, ‘Man! I’m a world champion!’ On Sunday I thought, ‘Man! Now I’m an open weight world champion, too!” I can’t believe it.

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