Rodolfo champion? He already knew it

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On March 27, heavyweight Rodolfo Vieira become the big name of the 2011 Pan by winning the open weight and heavyweight divisions. But the result had already been forecast here on GRACIEMAG.com, when Rômulo Barral sent us in a message at twitter.com/graciemag_br. Barral bet on Rodolfo winning the absolute.

Nicknamed “Barral the Octopus” nailing another historic result, Anderson Silva’s triangle on Chael Sonnen at UFC 117, the black belt explains why he put his money on the monster from GFTeam, and addresses his preparations for the World Pro and his recovering knee.

Barral winning the World Pro qualifier in Las Vegas. An injury kept him from facing Kron Gracie in the final. Photo: Nakama.

Have you definitively become “Barral the Octopus” because of this Pan?

That was an easy one (laughs). I’ve been keeping up with Rodolfo and all the other Jiu-Jitsu whizzes, and in my opinion he is the athlete who’s been in constant evolution, getting better with each championship. His strength is that he’s fast as a lightweight and has the strength of a heavyweight. That puts him always one step ahead of his opponents.

What about at the Worlds, is he danger looming? Will he make things rough for you?

For sure, pretty much everyone was there and he showed he’s ready to fight for gold at the Worlds. I feel the question should be the other way around: “Barral, can you make things tough for Rodolfo?” The kid’s a monster, and well, I’m getting back slowly, recuperating my confidence. But Rômulo vs. Rodolfo would certainly be a great fight, and the one’s who’d gain from it are the gentle art fans.

Your knee is better and you received an invite to compete at the World Pro. How are your preparations going?

Everything’s going great. I’m feeling better with every day and I’m more confident as to my knee.

Last year you returned getting only a silver medal and two losses, to Alex Ceconi and Big Mac. What mistakes from then do you not want to repeat?

After each championship I look to improve. Last year I made some mistakes in Abu Dhabi, mainly in the divisional final. I didn’t score when I should have, I didn’t pay attention to the time and my opponent fought better. In the absolute, I started the match slow and ended up dropping points (a takedown from Big Mac), which was hard to come back from, especially in a six-minute match. I don’t intend to make the same mistakes. I’ll try and set the pace well to carry out my game.

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