The first ever absolute champion of the IBJJF Rome Open, Ricardo Evangelista (GFTeam) also won the ultra-heavyweight last Saturday in the Italian capital. In that weight division he sealed the deal by catching John Michael (Malicia) in an armbar.
In the open class final, Ricardo beat Alan Finfou of CheckMat in advantages. On Sunday, Evangelista returned to the Palazzetto dello Sport for the No-Gi European Championship and again stretched John Michael’s arm to walk out as the absolute champion.
He preferred to spare himself by not fighting the absolute as his foot was hurt.
In a talk with GRACIEMAG, Ricardo Evangelista spoke about his success over the previous weekend and broke down the absolute final versus Finfou.
GRACIEMAG: How do you evaluate your performance at the Rome Open and the No-Gi European?
RICARDO EVANGELISTA: It could not have gone better, I’m very happy about it. In total I had five matches and came out undefeated with four submissions. Because I mostly train in the gi, I had the most difficulty in making grips without it. But I played on bottom and waited for the right chance to spring and seize the win. It was pretty enjoyable. During the No-Gi European I felt something wrong in my foot and decided against competing in the open.
How did your division finals play out, both against John Michael?
I had never fought John and didn’t know his game. I pulled him into guard and started trying to sweep; I compromised his balance but was unable to come up to score the points. In my second attempt he propped his arm on the mat, which was when I got the armbar. In the No-Gi European, I tried to study him a bit more standing, but then pulled him into butterfly guard. The moment I thought of spinning to take his back I felt his arm was placed just right for another armbar. I shot for it and won.
In the absolute at the Rome Open you clashed with Alan Finfou of CheckMat. What’s your take on that match?
Alan is very experienced and dangerous. The fight began pretty even, I knew I couldn’t afford to make a mistake. In the final minutes I managed to get an omoplata and tried to sweep, but he defended really well. I went back to the starting position and kept trying to sweep, but couldn’t. The match ended tied in advantages since he had almost gotten me with a takedown, but the decision went my way. I found it cool to fight him. One funny fact is that I rooted for him when he was fighting in his division. I shouted to support him and it worked [laughs]. He became the medium heavyweight champion. And then there we were facing each other in the open.
What’s the conclusion after getting three gold medals over two days at two IBJJF events?
I’ll keep training the right way, my feet on the ground, for nothing’s impossible – you just have to believe in yourself. I’m hoping to get an ADCC invite, I’ve even dreamed of it. I’m checking my email all the time now, and hope these titles will nudge things my way and get me to China in October.