GRACIEMAG: How did this offer to face Zé Mario Sperry that’s been abuzz with the fans since yesterday come about?
FABIO GURGEL: Right, well they got me off the couch (laugh). I’d hurd murmurs of it, since there’d been some poll on the internet about who should face Zé Mario in the next supermatch, him having won his match in England and all. And the names that got the most votes were me and Rickson. I don’t feel like this is a mission for Rickson. Guy Neivens called me yesterday, and I accepted. It would be an honor. Aside from Marcelo [Garcia], I think Zé Mario is the guy with the most ADCC titles of anybody.
He has a win over Renzo, won the absolute there, has more tournament-format experience. Have you had any notable No-Gi matches?
I’ve only ever really been at the 1999 ADCC, where I lost to a Russian. The guy ran away the whole match. I only got to touch him with 20 seconds left—things that only happened in the Abu Dhabis of back then. But I don’t feel like I’m at any disadvantage at all. We’ll be going there to put on a good show for you guys. The odd part is that half an hour before Guy called me I was training No-Gi at Alliance. Every Friday is No-Gi day at the academy, a sort of casual Friday, without the suit jacket (laughs). So I’m always training, and you can be sure I’ll be in great physical shape.
You haven’t faced Zé Mario before. What are your expectations?
That’s the coolest part. Zé is the only guy from my generation who I haven’t faced yet. Murilo Bustamante, Amaury Bitetti, Ricardo Libório—I’ve faced them all. But I never did cross paths with Zé. Only at the 1997 Worlds were we supposed to face each other in the semifinals, but he ended up having to pull out because he wasn’t feeling well. So we’ve still got that one to account for.
Is this an unpredictable match or do you have a picture of what you two will be doing?
The two of us have similar styles. Like I said when joking with you yesterday, I could ask him to pull guard on me. I don’t think that’s going to happen, though (laughs). To me what I need to do is go in there with it in my head that I’m not just going to win, but give the crowd their kicks, to not let anyone down. I think that’s what he has in mind too, so it’ll be a great party. And the best part is that it should be in São Paulo. At least that’s what the forecast is; there’s a 90% likelihood it’ll be in our backyard. I like traveling with the athletes and all, but here in Brazil we’ll be able to promote the ADCC a lot better.
Any idea who’ll be in your corner?
Alliance has got its fair share of champions, so I’ll certainly have someone there to give me the right pointers. It could be Marcelo, Rubens Cobrinha or Romero Jacaré. We’ll see about that in training, depending on who stands out in tactical training. Truth is, having a cornerman hardly helps you at all. It’s not going to win the fight for you. I don’t win matches for them, and they don’t win matches for me. But it’ll be cool. Nor do I know who’s going to want to compete at the 2013 ADCC, but we’ll be looking into that; we have time. We also have to see who’ll be cornering our athletes, since I’ll be pretty focused on my match, getting ready to do my job.