Another first-time Worlds winner took the top spot on the podium Sunday, November 7, 2010 at the CSU Long Beach pyramid, and his name is João Assis. Many know the big man from his multiple Jiu-Jitsu wins and recent Grappler’s Quest superfight against Saulo Ribeiro, in Canada, which he won.
At the No-Gi Worlds, the super heavy weight Assis had only one fight and that was with Gracie Barra’s Gustavo Pires. “It was a quick fight,” Assis says, “I took him down and he went into half guard. I attacked his foot and then he tapped.”
Assis closed out the divisional final with his CheckMat teammate, Marcus “Bochecha” Almeida, and by gentleman’s agreement, Assis took the gold in his division and then declined to compete in the Absolute. “I didn’t compete in the absolute so that Bochecha could try it,” Assis says.
Although Assis was disappointed in not getting to compete in the Open class, this hard-core competitor was resigned to the fact that these are the things a teammate must do at times. “You have to make choices sometimes,” he says, “I fought one fight in my division, and to take the title, I had to stop fighting.”
But Assis is not complaining. On the contrary, he has a tremendous amount of respect for his friend and teammate. “Bochecha just got his black belt, and he’s already one of the top guys,” Assis says, “He has a big future. He has all the qualities to be the next Roger Gracie. He’s a beast. He’s very good…but it’s hard. You train really hard for these moments. When you have a lot of good black belts together on the same team…sometimes it’s going to happen. But this has been a very good year for me. I didn’t need to get all the attention for me. It’s the start of something bigger. I’ve given my best for years. With every tournament, I’m becoming better and evolving every day. I just need to keep up the level and continue to improve my game.”
Assis has won the No Gi Worlds as a brown belt, but never a black belt until now. He won the Gi Worlds twice as a purple belt, but it’s eluded him ever since. “I’m still climbing to the top in gi,” he says, “I do very well in no-gi, but I like gi better. Sometimes you’re not the best, but you really like to do it. I like to wrestle, but I’m not a wrestler. I just find it very easy, the takedowns, the techniques, and the conditioning. My game is open guard and half guard. I defend takedowns very well. In gi, I’m always so close. I lose by advantage points or decisions.”
As for his recent Grappler’s Quest win against Saulo Ribeiro, Assis says, “It was one big superfight. Saulo likes to fight standing, but I was ready for that. I pushed the pace. It was a good fight for ten minutes. Saulo didn’t expose too much. He’s experienced. I fought very well, and made no mistakes. I like the challenge. I can never say no to a fight.”
Because of his love for Jiu-Jitsu and his inability to say, ‘no’ to a fight, Assis has another big superfight coming up in December. “I’m fighting Roberto Cyborg at Grappler’s Quest in New Jersey,” he says, “I’m just going to play my game. I believe if you have a solid game and you work to improve it, that’s better than worrying about another guy’s game.”
Assis says everyone knows his game. It’s all over Youtube and anyone who wants to study his fights have the opportunity to do so. “I try to improve my game all the time and create different ways to do the same thing, but no matter what, I always try to improve,” he says, “I’m not worried about Cyborg’s skills. I only think about my skills. Everyone has to find their positions and transitions. It will be a very good fight. He’s good standing, has a good guard, he’s complete. It will make for a better fight. It will bring more emotion. We are two world champions, similar weight, similar appearance – big guys – I always fight forward and he’s the same. I’m excited about it.”
Assis has some other big news he’s excited about. He’s just moved to Huntington Beach, CA to work with Rafael Cordeiro at Kings MMA at his new location. “We just opened up the new school,” Assis says, “I’ll be teaching Jiu-Jitsu for Werdum Combat Team and training with them as well. We have the best students and guys training. You can expect the best from us: Rafael, Fabricio and I, in gi/no-gi and MMA. Fabricio and I are big friends. I still represent Checkmat at tournaments, but I’m a part of Werdum Combat Team now. It’s really nice.”
Assis wants to thank his friends and family for their support and his sponsors, Jiu-Jitsu Pro Gear and Out for Blood. “I’m grateful to be able to do what I love,” he says, “Few people have the joy that I have. I don’t work; I just train Jiu-Jitsu. That’s my job. I get to do what I love to do every day.”