Absolute world champion at brown belt in 2009 Leonardo Nogueira was highly touted as he made his entrance in the ranks of black belt. His journey at the highest level was no easy one, but the 2011 season served to carve a spot out for himself among the big boys once and for all. After conquering the absolute division at the Brazilian Nationals, the Alliance rep nabbed his first world title at the belt. He had his work cut out for him in doing so, having to face the likes of João Assis and Marcus Bochecha in the heavyweight division.
In the USA, where he’s conducting a series of seminars, Léo spoke with GRACIEMAG.com. Here’s what he had to say:
What was the most difficult ordeal you faced at this World Championship?
The real difficulty came in the final against Bochecha, because early on in the fight I got taken down, costing me two points. The final was really hard fought, with two points and two advantage points apiece, and so it was left in the hands of the judges.
At the Brazilian Nationals you won the absolute and now you got your first world title as a black belt. What are your thoughts about this solid phase you’re going through.
It comes from a lot of dedication and years of hard training. I do six hours of preparation each day. I do Jiu-Jitsu in the morning, in the afternoon I tend to swim, and at the end of the day I work on technique and at night I do physical conditioning.
What was it like to win a World Championship as a black belt? Did you feel fulfilled, like you achieved a goal you were obligated to reach?
The feeling is one of relief, it took a load off my shoulders. I devoted myself to Jiu-Jitsu a lot, dropped out of college, moved to São Paulo, overhauled my routine so as to dedicate myself and be good at what I do. I completed the task at hand this year, but training never stops.
What do you have planned for the rest of the season?
I’ve got seminars lined up in Europe for the second half of the year and I want to study and train judo, to round out my Jiu-Jitsu even more.