Another year wrapped up as the 2010 No Gi Worlds came to a close at the CSU Long Beach pyramid on Sunday, November 7, 2010. Big names like Roberto “Cyborg” Abreu, Pablo Popovitch, Joao Assis, Rafael Lovato, Jr., Flavio Almeida, Caio Terra, Victor Estima, Lucas Leite, Roberto “Tussa” Alencar, Lucas Lepri, Bruno Bastos, Marcus “Bochecha” Oliveira, Samir Chantre, Brandon Mullins, Carlos Holanda, Justin Rader, and Gilbert Burns threw everything they had onto the mats to try to become the next No-Gi World Champion.
But it was Roberto “Cyborg” Abreu’s day, winning two golds in both his division and the absolute. “I’ve won everything but the Worlds,” he says, tears welling up in his eyes, “I’ve always been so close, but never won it before, until now.”
Abreu had two divisional matches and four absolute fights. “In the open I won my first match on points, 9-2,” he says, “My second was with J.T. He’s a great competitor. It was a tough match, but I won 2-0. My third match was with Lucas Leite, who’s a two-time World Champion.” Abreu beat Leite 15-2.
Abreu ended up with teammates Popovitch and Bochecha closing out the brackets in the finals. Popovitch gave his win to Bochecha, who gave his win to Abreu, which in turn, crowned him the 2010 No Gi World champion for the first time.
Abreu’s been closing out all the big IBJJF tournaments this year and the No-Gi Worlds was the last one on the circuit for 2010. He and his friend Pablo Popovitch started a new Jiu-Jitsu team this year called “The Avengers” and the group’s been working their magic on the tournament scene everywhere. Then they invited their other friend Rodrigo Cavaca, from Checkmat, and his team to train with them, and since then the world has been their oyster.
“I won the Honolulu Open,” Abreu says, “Pablo and I closed out the division. Then I closed the Pan with Marcus “Bochecha,” we closed out the Miami Open, then here again today at the Worlds.”
Not only did Abreu personally win today, but The Avengers ended up winning the tournament overall. When asked what their secret is for their success over the last year, Abreu says, “It’s the friendship we have and we have really talented guys who train together.”
Pablo Popovitch and Abreu met about three years ago and they’ve been friends and training partners ever since. “Pablo is my brother,” Abreu says, “Ever since I started training with him my game has improved so much. I’ve done so well because of my friendship with him. Then Cavaca moved to Florida and we all started training together.” Abreu’s game improved significantly and the proof of that is in all his recent wins.
As for his matches on Sunday, Cyborg could be seen smiling and laughing his way through each and every one of them. The joy he receives from performing each technique and Jiu-Jitsu move is endless and contagious. “I love to do Jiu-Jitsu so much,” he says, “I have fun fighting. I do it for the passion. That’s why I won’t do MMA. I don’t want to risk getting hurt because I don’t ever want to have to go one week without being able to do it.”
Cyborg says he’d like to dedicate his No-Gi Worlds win to his good friend Peter Bivona, who recently passed away at the young age of 39. “He was my best friend and I feel him with me when I compete,” he says, “I also want to thank my sponsors Legacy Fit, and Jiu-Jitsu Pro Gear, and of course, all my students from Fight Sports. I especially want to thank my parents for always supporting me, and Pablo Popovitch. He is the true inspiration for my Jiu-Jitsu.”
Cyborg says his world champion status is something that has eluded him in the past, but is finally his to claim. “This has been the best experience of my life,” he says, “It is my dream come true. There is not enough money in the world to compare to how I feel right now. It’s priceless. If you’re good to people and do what you love, only good things can happen to you. Today is proof of that.”