Augusto “Tanquinho” Mendes seemed to just refuse to lose at the 2012 World No-Gi Championship last Saturday. He rallied back to beat Leandro Lo in the semifinal. And in the final, a match that set the Jiu-Jitsu world abuzz with controversy, he scored a decisive advantage in the final instants.
GRACIEMAG.com: What stands out to you as having been your strength at this No-Gi World Championship? What made the difference?
AUGUSTO TANQUINHO: I feel I fought with smarts and managed to stick to the strategies I’d put together. I faced great athletes, made few mistakes, and realized that I’m still in the process of evolving since having surgery. I’m getting better with every championship.
How, in your view, did the semifinal with Leandro Lo go?
Against Leandro I had a good strategy: I wanted to get on top and attack his foot or knee to score advantages or points for combativeness, or maybe even to get the finish. The plan worked out so well that towards the end I sunk that figure-four footlock and he had to roll out of the match area to defend. Thus I scored two points. The match was restarted standing, and again I had to face his guard, but that time I was ahead by 2 to 0. He had to go all or nothing, and I capitalized on the space left open, going straight to the mount and making it 7-0.
What did you make of Lo as an opponent?
Lo’s a great friend and has my respect for his posture, humility and Jiu-Jitsu. I’ve told him before, and I’ll repeat it here on GRACIEMAG.com: the guy is still the world number one. I’m going to work even harder to beat him and anyone else in the gi until I get my chance to be number one.
What was the trick to the mount?
We’d already fought twice last year, and it was one apiece—I beat him 4-0 at the Pan, and he beat me 4-2 at the Brazilian Nationals. I knew it was going to be tough but I had faith in my Jiu-Jitsu. This time around, I took advantage of a mistake of his: he tried tying the match with a Hail Mary sweep, and that opened up the opportunity I was waiting for. I landed straight in mount and stabilized the position. I was opportunistic and intelligent.
And what happened in the final against JT, where it came down to advantages?
The final with JT was a good match. I feel I showed more heart and desire to win—JT wanted to play it slick after taking the lead on advantages, but I felt like he’d gotten tired and thus wasn’t thinking too well. He forgot that he’d been issued a verbal penalty, and when he fled the ground fight, he got a second penalty, which cost him an advantage in my favor. Towards the end, he wanted to position himself for the stack pass, to stall from the top, but he got caught off guard with a choke that I feel a lot of people aren’t yet familiar with.
How does that move work, that triangle without the inside arm? Does it really work?
Some people think I just positioned my legs to squeeze on his head, but the truth is that it’s a choke that comes from judo, one Wellington Megaton and Mackenzie taught me. They adapted it to No-Gi Jiu-Jitsu, and Mackenzie has tapped a lot of people out with it. I used it to surprise JT. I guarantee that it was in really tight, and I even thought he was about to pass out, because I felt him going limp. Then I messed up by trying to improve my positioning and ended up losing it. But I’m certain the ref saw the danger I put him in with that choke. In the medium-heavyweight final Rômulo Barral used a similar choke and got an advantage for it too.
Were you irritated by him not going to the podium? What happened?
Yes, I felt it was a major lack of respect on JT’s part to not go receive the silver medal on the podium. Anyone who doesn’t go to the podium discredits his competitors. Less than two months ago, JT beat me at the Boston Open, also on advantages, and I was there on the podium. It saddens me when people lack respect like that.
What’s next for you?
I’m going to carry on training in the gi, and I’m hoping for a berth at the IBJJF Pro League on December 8. I’m in eighth in the IBJJF lightweight ranking, but only the first six in the standings get to go. I didn’t compete at the main IBJJF events in 2012 because of the surgery I underwent on my spine, and that set me back some on the ranking, but I still have hopes of competing at the Pro League event. If the two guys ahead of me can’t fight, I get their spot. I don’t want to root for one of them to get left out; still, if the chance lands on my lap, I’ll take it!