Gustavo Dantas’s 3rd Southwest Classic Jiu-Jitsu tournament in Arizona last weekend really drew in some great competitors, and brown belt André Vaughan of Gracie Humaitá Las Vegas was one of them. André had two matches in the lightweight division: the first he won by submitting his opponent with a kimura from the guard; and in the second, the final, it took him a little over a minute to sink the gold medal-winning armbar on Ryan Heilman of GDBJJ, who won double gold as a brown belt at the 2011 American Nationals in Las Vegas last August.
Vaughn hasn’t been competing much lately, but he did compete in the same tournament last year as a purple belt. “I fought (UFC fighter) Ben Henderson in the final and won,” he says. André , who’s 18-years-old, has been out of competition lately because of school commitments and the fact that he only just graduated high school last June.
André’s been training in Jiu-Jitsu for nine years. He started out taking boxing lessons but ended up in Jiu-Jitsu because his dad’s friends recommended it to him. Once he started training, he was hooked.
Although he hasn’t seen much tournament action as of late, he did do well on the competition circuit as a juvenile blue belt, taking first in his division and second in the absolute at the 2009 Pan and then coming in second at the No-Gi Worlds.
André says he loves the people he meets through Jiu-Jitsu. “They’re people you keep for a lifetime,” he says, “my professor, Mica Cipili, is like a second father to me; my training partners are my family.”
Vaughn got his brown belt in the middle of the year and says he’s been adjusting to his new belt quickly. He’s going to compete at the No-Gi Worlds in November. Beyond that, he looks forward to a lifetime of Jiu-Jitsu. “I want to be the best in the world using all the submissions,” he says, “I want to win by subbing everyone. I want to have my own academy one day. I will go wherever Jiu-Jitsu takes me. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without Jiu-Jitsu.”