Caio Terra’s show in Vegas: “I am a small guy, I did it for fun”

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Photos: John Cooper

Caio Terra was the man to beat at the 2010 Las Vegas International Open and the American National Jiu-Jitsu No Gi Championship. Terra, a black belt with Gracie Fighter stole the show on Saturday as he won gold in his gi and no-gi light featherweight division, and in the gi absolute. In the no-gi absolute, he took third, but there was some contention around how that played out.

Caio Terra on the absolute podium. Photos: John Cooper

Terra had two fights in his gi division. In the divisional final, he faced off with his old friend and rival Rafael “Barata” Freitas from GB New Mexico. “I swept him twice and took his back,” Terra says. Terra won the final 8-0.

In the absolute, Terra had a bye then fought three matches. His final was with Robert Fonseca from Asle. “We were switching leg locks and foot locks,” Terra says, “I tried to do a sweep on him, and the one I do kind of twists the knee.” Fonseca appeared hurt and said that his knee had popped out. He was checked out by the medics and then agreed to keep fighting, so they restarted the match.

“I was winning by that time,” Terra says, “I put him in the closed guard and stayed there until the fight was over. I kept trying to go to his back, but he would go back to closed guard.” Terra ended the match winning by points and taking gold in the absolute.

“The guys in the open class were really good technically,” Terra says, “I didn’t think that I would win the open class. I’m such a small guy. I just did it for fun. I wasn’t trained enough to win something against so many tough people.” Terra says up until this point, it was a perfect day. “When you’re happy everything comes to you.”

Then the No-Gi Nationals began and Terra changed out of his gi and into his rash guard to take on the next set of competitors. In his division he had two matches. In the finals he faced “Barata” again and won by guillotine. Most may not know this, but Terra and “Barata” are actually friends with a nice rivalry going on. They compete against each other all the time, with Terra ending up the victor. You have to give Barata credit. He never gives up and even called Terra before the event to make sure he was competing so he could try again to defeat him.

“At the No-Gi Worlds, Barata and I had to fight and I joked with him and said, ‘let’s do a wrestling match with submissions,’” Terra laughs, “But I would never do that at the No-Gi Worlds.” This time the two wanted to have some fun with each other, so Terra said to Barata, “’Since you pull guard every time, can I do it this time?’ He said, ‘yes, but no foot locks!’ So we agreed.” Make no mistake about it, the fights the two had were very serious and intense, but they said they also just wanted to have some fun with each other.

“So, in our first match, I couldn’t pull any foot locks on him and he let me pull guard,” Terra says, “The second match, it was a wrestling match with submissions. He took me down, but I ended up getting him in a guillotine.” And just like that, Terra claimed his third gold medal for the day.

In the absolute no-gi, the day began to turn in a direction that Terra has seen before. The class was a smaller group. There were only 8 people in the bracket. In the semifinals, Terra went up against Diego Herzog of Gracie Florianopolis.

“I pulled guard and tried to take his back,” Terra says, “He defended and I landed on top in a 50/50. He switched his leg from outside to inside which is illegal.”  While Terra was talking to the referee, Herzog was twisting his knee. The referee stopped the match before Terra was injured and gave Herzog the victory, which had Terra fuming (The same scenario played itself out in the finals with Gregor Gracie. From the same position, Herzog and Gracie were in a 50/50. Herzog switched his leg from the outside to the inside and was disqualified after injuring Gracie’s knee)

So, in the end, Terra took home three gold medals and a bronze. Terra says he came to Vegas for a friend’s birthday, and decided to compete at the last minute. Outside of the no-gi absolute, Terra says he had a perfect day. He believes he should have been in the final with Gracie and looks forward to the possibility of fighting him in the no-gi absolute division in the future.

As for his “complaining,” Terra says that everyone complains during a Jiu-Jitsu match. The difference is Terra is a true student of the sport and has studied the rules of Jiu-Jitsu vigorously. “I want to win,” he says, “That’s why I study the rules. I want to play by the rules. Sometimes, you have to use the rules to your favor, so I am a professional when it comes to them.” When you look at Terra’s record, it’s hard to argue with that.

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