Rafael Lovato Jr is on a roll! After a dazzling performance at Metamoris Pro, where he tapped out Kayron Gracie with a Kimura lock, the leader of Lovato BJJ put the gi aside and started training for the November 3-4 IBJJF World No-Gi Jiu-Jitsu Championship. The American black belt is gunning for his third straight title in the event, as he won the heavyweight division in 2010 and the medium-heavyweight class in 2011.
In this exclusive interview, Lovato discusses his preparatiosn for the No-Gi Worlds, the tough opponents he expects to face in Long Beach and the importance of a third gold medal, if it comes.
After your big win over Kayron at Metamoris, what made you decide to compete at the No-Gi Worlds?
The No-Gi Worlds was always on my schedule for the end of this year. I really like that competition! I don’t get many opportunities to go against such high level guys in No-Gi competition, except for at the ADCC, so I have a lot of fun there!
What changes in your way of fighting at No-Gi tournaments compared to Gi Jiu-Jitsu events?
Well, I would say the wrestling is the biggest difference between the two but my style stays pretty much the same: to attack in all positions and keep moving forward. No-Gi is fun because it can end in an instant, instead of with Gi Jiu-Jitsu where it takes many steps to achieve a submission over a high level opponent.
You won the black belt medium-heavy division last year and the heavyweight one in 2010. What was the toughest moment for you at last year’s campaign?
I was very proud of my performance last year. I never fell behind in any of my matches and I managed to defeat great champions like Otavio Sousa and Pablo Popovitch. The toughest part was preparing for the championship after just having a leg injury at ADCC and keeping my weight down to make the lower weight class then what I normally compete at.
If you win gold, it will be your third No-Gi world title and the fourth overall. What does that mean to you?
It means everything to me! That has been one of my goals for the year ever since it started. I have had great performances at the No-Gi Worlds, reaching the finals the last three years in a row in three different weight classes and winning twice. I want to stay consistent, have a great performance for the fans, and show that I am also one of the best without the gi as well!
What about you? Have you signed up for the 2012 IBJJF World No-Gi Jiu-Jitsu Championship? The deadline is Friday, October 26. Rush and do it now! Go to Ibjjf.org for more info and to register!