MMA has reached a level where no fighter, let alone a UFC champion, can afford not to practice Jiu-Jitsu.
This Saturday at UFC on Fox 5 in Seattle, Wash., lightweight champion Ben Henderson will have his work cut out for him in defending his title from the Cesar Gracie-trained Nate Diaz. Naturally, he’s been sharpening up his ground game for the fight.
At the MMA Lab in Arizona, Ben Henderson trained with Augusto “Tanquinho” Mendes, a current No-Gi world champion, to help him put the finishing touches on his grappling. In the following conversation with GRACIEMAG.com, the Brazilian comments on how training with the UFC star went and other matters.
GRACIEMAG: How has training with Ben Henderson been going? Is the brown belt’s Jiu-Jitsu up to speed?
AUGUSTO TANQUINHO: Training went great. Ben’s got a really good ground game. He’s fully prepared to fight Nate on there, if that’s where it goes. But he also practices a lot of wrestling. His takedown defense and submissions are all up to speed, so he can take the fight wherever he wants it. If the opportunity arises, I think he’s got a good chance of subbing Nate. Ben’s really well trained in all areas of MMA, so it’s going to be a heck of a fight!
And so are you back in your gi and targeting the January Copa Pódio event?
Yes, I’m feeling great about it. I’m training here in Arizona at [Wellington] Megaton’s academy with Mackenzie and the rest of the crew. Everyone has the same objective, and everyone’s ready to help out everyone else. I’ve got plenty of training partners. I’m still going to go to Brazil for the final stretch to work with my team Soul Fighters and João Gabriel, who’s also in the Copa Pódio lineup.
You’ll be taking on Davi Ramos in a double supermatch, and he’s someone you’re quite familiar with, as you’ve faced each other before.
Davi’s a really dangerous guy, really well-rounded and strong. I believe this is going to be a war, especially since it’s a six-minute match. He’s a good friend, a humble guy, and is looking to carve out a place for himself just as I am. We’re going to fight and put on a show, and then after that we’ll sit back and wait for our girlfriends, who will determine the overall outcome of the “couples fight”. Regardless of who wins, things will be just the same as they were before: respectful and as good friends.
What are your plans for 2013?
I’d really like to compete at the European Championship, in Lisbon. I need sponsorship, but I’m working on it. I want to be at all the big championships in 2013. I’m also hoping to get called up for the 2013 ADCC; I want to be at that event, too. There’s still a long ways to go, though.