With its hotly disputed matches and intricate maneuvers, the under-88 kg division is the one that drew the most applause at the inaugural IBJJ Pro League event last Saturday in Long Beach, California. The final, a hard-fought affair, saw Romulo Barral sway the judges in his favor and win the $5,000 prize on offer for winning the professional league. In the following exclusive GRACIEMAG.com interview, Barral says he’ll likely be putting in an appearance at the European Championship, explains how it felt odd to fight his friend Otavio Sousa, and praises André Galvão, his opponent in the final.
GRACIEMAG.com: What’s your take on the final with André Galvão?
RÔMULO BARRAL: It was an awesome match. I think Galvão and I have the same style, we both go on the attack. So every time we face each other I’m certain it will be a great fight. The final was really even, ended in a draw, and I feel the decision could have gone to either of us. But this time the judges gave me the win, so I’m plenty pleased. I’m a fan of André Galvão’s. I really like his Jiu-Jitsu. It was an honor to compete against him.
You ended up having to face your Gracie Barra teammate Otavio Sousa in the semifinals. How did that go?
It’s never nice to have to compete against a friend or teammate. I really like Tavinho, but we’re professionals and sometimes we have to do things we don’t want to do, to see our sport grow.
What was the big lesson for you from the IBJJ Pro League?
We have to always try to improve. The championship is over and victory is fleeting. I’m already back at training to fix some mistakes I made.
Jiu-Jitsu has been losing a lot of good fighters to MMA these days. Will the IBJJF paying prize money to competitors help curb the exodus?
Yes, I feel us Jiu-Jitsu athletes lead the lives of professional athletes despite being amateurs. After all, we train the whole day to be champions. So nothing could be fairer than to reward us for it.
What are your plans for 2013?
I’m really stoked about next year. I want to fight in everything, starting with the European Championship, in Lisbon, Portugal. After that I’m going to compete at the Abu Dhabi WPJJC Trials in Miami and the big IBJJF tournaments. Who knows, maybe the 2013 ADCC too?