Medium-heavyweight competitor Felipe “Preguiça”Pena was the big name in the South American Jiu-Jitsu Championship brown belt division last weekend, in the Southern Brazilian city of Florianopolis. The Gracie Barra standout won both his weight division and the absolute, outdoing Nova Uniao’s Alysson Rossei in the open weight final.
In the following exclusive GRACIEMAG.com interview, Felipe comments on the absolute final, the course of his romp at weight, lessons for winning a match, and what he’s drumming up for Copa Podio, where he takes on Leandro Lo in one of the supermatches.
GRACIEMAG: What was your path to winning gold in the absolute at the South American Championship like?
FELIPE PREGUIÇA: It was a high level championship. I had to get through four tough matches to win the absolute. In the final I faced Alysson, who is a really heavy athlete. Early in the match I managed to sweep him, and after that I took his back twice. When I was on his back, he got a footlock on one of my hooks and it hurt some. That’s why I didn’t take any chances after that and won on points.
You won the medium heavyweight division after beating Brasa team’s Bruno Ferreira in the final, as we can see in the following video. How did that match go in your view?
Against Bruno I lost my hold on his back twice, but on the third time I didn’t let it get away; I capitalized and sunk a choke. In all, I had seven matches and managed to get the tapout in five–two at weight and three in the absolute.
And this was the second time you won your weight class and the absolute, right? Has anything changed in your game?
That’s right. I’m pleased for the repeat of what I did in 2011, when I won at weight and open weight. I’m pleased with my performance. I managed to do a game I hadn’t managed to in previous tournaments: playing top position in all my matches. I felt great. It was an excellent test. I’d like to thank my teachers Romulo Barral and Marcelo Uirapuru, my physical conditioning coach Bruno Formiga, my family and my sponsors: Adidas, Choke Kimonos, Cesta Basica Bom Apetite and Clinica Health Extension.
What lessons did you learn from the tournament?
I did my best to make no mistakes and to score points early on to take the lead over my opponent. I feel that’s the strategy for winning in Jiu-Jitsu. I’ve lost a lot of matches by dropping behind in score at the start, making it hard to come back later…
On January 13, you’ll face Leandro Lo in a special match-up at Copa Podio. The last time you two met, in the Middleweight GP, you fought to a draw. What do you plan to do differently to win this time?
I’m a great admirer of Leandro Lo’s. I’ve been watching him ever since I was a blue or purple belt. I think his game is awesome. I became an even bigger fan of his after I met him. He’s a really humble guy. I learned a great deal when I faced Leandro at Copa Podio in 2012. I feel the lesson is that we have to believe in our game, in ourselves. It doesn’t matter what the others think; what matters is that you believe in yourself, do what you worked on in training and show your stuff.
What do you expect for this second match against Lo?
It’s an honor to face him again. I’m going to do my all to win. I’ve got a good tournament rhythm going. I’m totally prepared and really wanting the win.
What have you been doing to prepare? There’s Christmas right in the middle…
I’m doing my training here in Brazil. This time I won’t be able to train with Romulo Barral in California but I always talk to him about my training, even from so far away. My brother, Augusto Tio Chico, and my instructor Marcelo Uirapuru are helping me with my training. We have a great competition team here at the academy. They’re helping me get in tip-top shape, without letting Christmas and New Year’s get in the way.