Rodolfo Vieira was the big standout at the 2011 pan, winning his weight and the open weight groups in irvine. The submission whiz departed for Abu Dhabi today to compete at the World Pro, from where he hopes to, literally, return loaded with gold. Gifts of the valuable metal tend to be distributed to the champions, but what the fighter really wants is for his spoils to come in the form of medals. Check out the conversation he had with GRACIEMAG.com.
Does your winning two divisions at the Pan make you confident you can repeat the feat at the World Pro?
The Pan gave me a lot of confidence because pretty much all the current top fighters were there. I feel that to win weight and open weight I had to fight really well. I only got tired in a couple of matches, when I felt my grip wearing out a but, but in the others I was fresh. That did give me a lot of confidence. I hope it will stay that way in Abu Dhabi. There the fights will only be six minutes, so there will be no way to get tired.
There’s also the No-Gi World Pro. . . .
Over there I’m going to compete both in and out of the gi. I hope I can keep up the good results, I want to win everything. From GFTeam there will be me, Theodoro Canal, Victor Silvério, Suelen Tobias, and Ricardo Evangelista, is already ove there waiting for us.
You were in two finals against Bernardo Faria at the Pan. Is he now your main opponent?
Bernardo’s an excellent athlete, he’s tough as nails. But there are a lot of others who make things hard on me. We had two finals, but Braga Neto was also really tough and I had my work cut out for me against Léo Nogueira too. The ref gave me a raw deal, but it’s all good (watch the match against Antonio Peinado, another hard fighter to keep up with, below).
Was there anyone in particular who caught your attention during the Pan?
I really like Bochecha (Marcus Almeida). He hasn’t been a black belt for very long but is kicking butt. He lets his game flow, and I like seeing him in action. The kid was awesome at this Pan, winning the heavyweight division and taking third in the absolute.