World No. 1 Bernardo Faria Explains Why He Can’t See Fighting Léo Nogueira

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Léo Nogueira and Bernardo Faria: closing out in Lisbon was reminiscent of the 2012 Worlds superheavyweight division. (Photo by Dan Rod/

The word “companion”, it is said, comes from the latin roots “com” and “panis”, meaning “with the bread”. A companion is someone with whom we break bread. In the case of buddies Bernardo Faria and Léo Nogueira, two of the biggest winners at the 2013 European Open Jiu-Jitsu Championship, the word fits like a glove.

Absolute-winning black belt Léo Nogueira put runner-up Bernardo Faria up at his place during leaner days. That is why when the two Alliance teammates make it to a final together, as with the absolute in Lisbon, they aren’t likely to fight.

We had a chat with Bernardo Faria, today’s 26-year-old birthday boy, about his conquests in Jiu-Jitsu, the value of friendship, and of course, his campaign at the IBJJF European Open, which wrapped up last Sunday. Check out what the number one in the world Jiu-Jitsu ranking has to say, and let us know if you agree with his perspective on shutting out brackets.

GRACIEMAG: With gold in the superheavyweight division at the European Open and silver in the absolute, you are now the Jiu-Jitsu world number one. How does that feel?

BERNARDO FARIA: I’m overjoyed with everything that is happening in my life, and I hope to carry on coming up with good results and pursuing the ones I’m missing. It’s sensational to be able to participate in Jiu-Jitsu’s growth, and fighting in a packed gymnasium in Europe was awesome. After the championship, I rushed to check the IBJJF Ranking and saw that I was in first [Léo Nogueira is in second, Rodolfo in third, Bochecha in fourth and Rômulo Barral in fifth]. My place in the ranking is cool but didn’t affect our decision to close out the absolute. We’d already agreed that if one of us should lose at weight, he’d be the one to take the gold in the absolute. It was a way of having both of us be champions in Lisbon.


The crowd always wants to see action, especially when it’s an absolute final. Yet there’s no chance of you fighting Nogueira?


Not a lot of people know it, but as soon as I moved from Minas Gerais to São Paulo I lived in the same room as him. I’ve known Léo for many years. He’s the one who opened the doors to Fabio Gurgel’s team for me. It was pretty rough back then. There was hardly enough space for two people in that room, and I stayed there for ten days. But that didn’t dampen our spirits. We always said that the day would come when both of us would be Jiu-Jitsu standouts. Today, thank God, we’re the two top ranked athletes in the world!


And you guys train together the whole time, because of your weight…


Yes. We’re the same age, the same weight and practically the same height. I model myself on him a lot, just as I can tell he models himself on me, too. We swap a lot of positions and details. We train together a lot. Because of all that, I can’t see us fighting, and I’m honored to be sharing titles with him.


Which was your toughest match in Lisbon?


I had four matches, two in the absolute and two at weight. On Saturday, in the absolute, I got a by and won my first match by W.O., as my opponent got injured. After that I tapped out Renato Cardoso [CheckMat] with an omoplata and beat Calasans by 8-0 in the semifinals. On Sunday, at weight, I tapped out Mauricio of Cicero Costha team in the first match, and in the final I beat Lucio Lagarto by 2 to 0. The toughest ones were against Calasans, who’s always dangerous, and Lagarto, another really dangerous athlete.


You’d lost to Calasans in 2011, right? What made the difference this time?


Without a doubt he’s one of the best athletes around right now, for the fact that he’s well-rounded: he’s good at judo, passing, guard-playing and submissions. That’s why I feel that match was the highlight for me at the Europeans. I’d lost to him in 2011 because of a refereeing mistake, but this time I managed to take his back and win, thank God.


What’s the trick to pulling off that omoplata of yours?


The omoplata I used to tap out Renato Cardoso is something I do a lot. The difference is that, when I do it, my objective is the submission and not the sweep. I managed to get him in a triangle, and as he was doing a good job of withstanding the hold, I switched to the omoplata, and it worked out.


Where will you be going on your next trip?


Now it’s the IBJJF Pan and maybe some Abu Dhabi WPJJC tryout. I’ll stick around Europe for another two weeks teaching seminars, and at the end of February I’ll head to New York to train with Marcelo Garcia. I’m stoked.


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