Settled in at a table at Bibi Sucos juice bar in Rio de Janeiro, his T-shirt slung over his shoulder, Bernardo savors a cup of açaí in the company of Alliance training partners Luiz Gustavo and Elan Santiago. Having just stepped out of the barber shop next door, it dawns on the GRACIEMAG.com reporter that he’s hungry for a little Jiu-Jitsu, so he orders an açaí with honey and guava, pulls up a seat and makes the most of the moment to get some learning in.
The talk turns from the European Jiu-Jitsu Championship, late this month of January, to UFC 142. But Bernardo has other concerns—geopolitical and anthropological ones:
“Shoot, if I lived in Rio de Janeiro I’d never train on a sunny day like this. I’d be at the beach!” said the Fabio Gurgel-trained native of Minas Gerais state spending a few days at the academy of Alexandre Paiva.
But GRACIEMAG.com wants motivational and training tips, not ones on how not training; so the banter moves along.
Bernado reveals that he resolved to compete at the 2011 European Open after receiving an invitation to teach seminars in Finland as a result of the success he saw in competition last year: he won the European Open, took runner-up at the Worlds, won the absolute division at the South American Championship, and qualified for the Abu Dhabi WPJJ.
“Finns… Dang those are tough people. They pick up on positions so quick, I think they’ll make a meal of that European Championship some day,” he wagers.
The subject turns to MMA, and Faria gets excited. “I train a lot of boxing and love self-defense but it’s not the right time yet. One guy from Alliance who’s good at throwing down and is quick is Bruno Malfacine.
Bruno Malfacine. They’re coming up with a flyweight division; even if he doesn’t train standup, I think he’ll beat a lot of guys!” he touts his friend.
So the reporter recaps Bernardo’s year and reached the two matches against Rodolfo Vieira, the current heavyweight and absolute champion of the world. Rodolfo too is tipped to be at the European, vying to win a title that has so far eluded him, and a likely showdown in the final would be reminiscent of the classic European finals, like Roger vs Jacaré and Bráulio Estima versus Xande Ribeiro. Another stalwart submission whiz confirmed for the championship who could make things hard on Faria is Lucio Lagarto.
A breeze whisks in from Leblon beach, and the reporter asks, “After a string of losses to Rodolfo, what makes you believe you can beat him?”
Unflustered and cheerful, Big Bernardo offers three reasons:
1. HE’LL HAVE STRONGER JIU-JITSU—PHYSICALLY EVEN
“I suffered a bit to make heavyweight, and now I’m comfortable at super heavyweight. I’ve won tournaments before like this; my game is still good at a heavier weight. Hence I think I’ll be stronger. But I’ll stick with the same game I like best—on top or on bottom,” he says.
“I always like starting out a match with my strong positions. If I pull guard, I aim to pull to land in my best sweep or submission. If the other guy pulls, I want to position myself for my best pass positions. It’s all about trying to be a step ahead of the opponent—to be in your game, what you do best.”
2. CONFIDENCE IN HALF-GUARD SWEEPS
“If you rewatch my matches, I actually sweep Rodolfo; I have managed to get my sweep to work. I just haven’t managed to got on top of him and stay. I feel heavier and stronger; I’m going to manage to come up with that detail that’s been missing,” he asserts.
3. “IT’S THE RESULT I’VE BEEN MISSING”
“Look… I’ve lost to him by getting shafted, lost getting submitted, lost by advantages, and lost on points. I’ve lost by very little and lost by a washout. The only result missing for me is victory! Now I’m not usually one to whine about a bad call, but the ref was tripping for the first match we were in together.”
Now what about you, dear reader, how do you build up your confidence to take on an opponent who always gets the better of you? Comment below!