The 2013 Worlds were necessarily going to produce a four-time world champion. Many analysts and audience members thought that was going to be Rafael Mendes or his brother, Guilherme, but very few bet heavily on Romulo Barral or Braulio Estima, both from Gracie Barra.
Braulio wasn’t even his own favorite, since he had underperformed at Copa Pódio and arrived exhausted from England. His first idea was to use the Mundial to train for his fight versus Rodolfo Vieira, next Sunday at Metamoris in Los Angeles. But as it turns out, his technique was pretty darn sharp, so much so that Braulio caught the arm of Brazilian champion and GB teammate Rodrigo Pimpolho, and opened a wide 6-0 over André Galvão with a sweep and a trip to his back in the semifinal that ended 6-2.
In Barral’s case the question was also posed by his physical condition, as he’d had a muscle tear at the Abu Dhabi WPJJC during the final versus Galvão. “It was sick, my leg got all black. But I looked at the calendar and told myself: I have a month and a half to do physical therapy, get better and fight at the year’s biggest event,” recalls Romulo, who hardly cared he was coming off a loss to Guto Campos at the Pan American. “I lost my grip when we were shuffling and he cleverly jumped and landed on my side; it wasn’t that sort of concrete guard pass that makes me doubt my game.”
As he arrived in Long Beach’s Walter Pyramid to guide his pupils, Barral met with master Vinicius Draculino. The following exchange took place:
“How’s the leg? You 100%?” asked Draculino.
“Absolutely one hundred! I suffered but I wasn’t gonna let one muscle stop me from competing here,” smiled Barral.
“So if you are at 100%, listen to me: no one is gonna stop you this year. Tell me this: why do you practice Jiu-Jitsu?”
“Why, because I like it a lot, and besides –”
“Stop right there, that’s all I need to hear. If you love this, get in there and crush whoever’s in your path!”
In the end, having overcome the likes of Guto Campos along the way, Romulo and Braulio closed out the medium-heavyweight division. The former got his fourth title; the latter took the gold medal.