Black-belt Ricardo “Cachorrão” Almeida, 36, has collected MMA titles and a record of 13w-5l. But the triumphs keep coming thanks to a mind that’s more and more willing to learn and put its BJJ to the test.
It’s what the New Jersey-based Brazilian fighter did at the recent Worlds No-Gi, when he took gold at the senior 1’s medium heavyweight division.
The Frankie Edgar professor also has four weeks left of taping for TUF 19, in whose finale his pupil will face BJ Penn.
Cachorrão talked about that and other subjects to GRACIEMAG after his victory in the Walter Pyramid.
GRACIEMAG: What lesson have you learned after nabbing gold in the Worlds No-Gi 2013, Ricardo?
RICARDO CACHORRÃO: I love BJJ like I did on my first day. I loved being a part of this great party that is the Worlds No-Gi. It was my first competition in the Pyramid, and I will carry many memories from that day. My brother, Flávio Cachorrinho, was bouncing from a knee surgery he had that week and even so he was there yelling at me from his wheelchair. And seeing my brother like that scared me; I have a lot of commitments and responsibilities and for the first time I stepped on the mat afraid of getting hurt. If BJJ isn’t used with great caution and respect, it can be harmful to everyone, including the champions.
Please walk us through your final versus Fábio Alexandre of Carlson Gracie.
I knew Fábio was an IBJJF, he knows the rules well and has a strong half-guard. I tried to fight without erring. In a five-minute match it is really rough coming back from a mistake, so I fought on his mistakes. When he gave me room I scored advantages and then the points. When it was time to let my game loose the time ran out. I think I fought reasonably well, within the game and the rules.
You are recording the next TUF on Frankie Edgar’s team. What have you been learning over there?
It is an insane routine of two training sassions a day and two fights a week, one at each weight. It’s a unique, very interesting experience. We still have another three weeks left to shoot.
Frankie beat BJ twice by unanimous decision, in 2010, imposing his boxing and mobility. How is his BJJ at this point?
Frankie loves BJJ and is getting tougher on the ground every day. He will be picking up the black belt by the end of the year. I think it’s gonna be a great fight. I’m a big fan of BJ’s – he’s one of the greatest talents in MMA. But I believe Frankie put in a lot more hours of mat and training than BJ in that last few years. Frankie always evolves technically between his fights. So it’s gonna be BJ’s talent versus Frankie’s tenacity.