Braga Neto coming of age

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Braga Neto in photo by Carlos Ozório

A black belt well known for always being on the attack, Antonio Braga Neto is pleased with how things are going in his life at this stage. In San Francisco, California, the fighter opened his own gym and even launched a DVD. However, the most important part is that Braga feels he is now maturer and thus better prepared for his upcoming challenges in competition, which will begin January 29 with the World Pro tryouts in Las Vegas.

Check out the conversation he had with GRACIEMAG.com:

What are your objectives for 2011?

I’ll keep competing this year, sticking my neck out at any championships I can make it to. Any opportunity I get, I’ll compete. Now I’m training for the World Pro tryouts, I’ll be at the one coming up in Las Vegas. I want to do the World Pro, it’s one of my priorities. I want to compete there with and without the gi. After that the plan is to go to Brazil to compete at the Brazilian Nationals and return here for the Worlds. In the second half of the year, I’ll start focusing on MMA again.

In 2010 you missed out on winning some titles in the final instants of decisive matches. Have you stopped to analyze that?

Last year wasn’t too great for me. I had some unexpected slip-ups, but it’s all a learning experience. I feel I left much to be desired in terms of physical conditioning. It was a rough year, lots of highs and lows and indecision in my life. It was complicated for me, I went through a lot of changes and things got out of my control. I think I truly evolved from being a boy to being a man, and that was something missing from my life. Now I’m much more focused on my profession and I know that if I don’t work hard I won’t go anywhere.

Braga's academy in San Francisco / Photo: personal archive

What do you do to keep up your training there?

One of the reasons I accepted the offer to open an academy here is that I would still be able to train hard. Thank God, I’ve always had great people supporting me and helping and things are no different here in my new home. There are people really close to me here like Ralph Gracie, who has helped me ever since we met. He gives me a lot of support. I train at his academy with a number of tough guys like Marcel Fortuna and Diego Nosferatu among others. We’re all helping each other out.

But are you still with Roberto Gordo?

Of course. I always go my way honestly, and everywhere I go the people who know me and helped me in growing are with me. My academy here is the continuation of Gordo, my cousin in Manaus, Marcio in Porto Velho… It’s the continuation of where I’ve been and what I’ve learned.

2009 Brazilian Nationals finalists Braga and Fortuna now train together. Photo: Gustavo Aragão.

How is work going in San Francisco?

My academy is already up and running and we have Jiu-Jitsu and MMA classes every day. Anyone who gets the chance can visit me here in San Francisco and will be well received. Now we’re organizing a seminar with UFC fighters Vladimir Matyushenko and Stefan Struve for January 22. It’ll be great.

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