A sunny day breaks in Lisbon, Portugal. Today the adult black belt weight division finals will take place, not to mention the grand finale of the men’s absolute, with yet another showdown between world champion Rodolfo Vieira and his runner-up Bernardo Faria, the most heavily anticipated match of the 2012 European Open. (The women’s absolute final was closed out by team CheckMat reps Michelle Nicolini and Ida Hansson, so there was no final.)
One of the questions on the tip of everybody’s tongue behind the scenes at the Euros is, “HOW DO YOU STOP RODOLFO VIEIRA?” I would have run the query past Fabio Gurgel, Bernardo’s master, but it would have been a waste of time: even if he had the answer, Gurgel never releases it before a match.
Last night, when the absolute finalists were made known, I bumped into Rodolfo having an açaí at the Casal Vistoso municipal sports complex snack bar. I greeted him and then asked him straight up, “So what do you think Bernardo’s going to do to beat you?” He replied, “I don’t know, but I know I’m not worried about it. I can’t focus my training on just one fighter; I have to train to be the champion, so I consider myself prepared for whatever comes my way. I did get a glimpse of Bernardo facing Lovato, which was an awesome match, but I could gather that, at least for the time being, Bernardo’s game is the same as it was. That pass by stacking, that half-guard sweep… He really does have those positions down pat but the best way to deal with them is to not respect them. I say that in a good way. Of course I respect Bernardo a lot, I just can’t afford to be afraid of his game—you understand?”
Hours earlier, Victor Estima spoke with me (just after tapping to a tight triangle by Rodolfo in the absolute): “Man, the pressure Rodolfo brings is unbelievable. He doesn’t stop attacking; his pace is out of this world. In other words, he didn’t give me any room; nor did he give me time to fight.”
What do you think, dear reader, can Bernardo Faria pull it off against Rodolfo? Let us know below. And if you don’t know the answer yet, check the homepage to find out if you were right.