One of the black belt divisions at the 2012 IBJJF Long Beach Open currently lists one of the best competitors in the super-heavy division on its roster. Lucio “Lagarto” Rodrigues is a known name in the United Kingdom where he resides as well as his home country Brazil, however his lack of presence in American competitions has limited his exposure and recognition. After overcoming Hodgkin’s Disease, a lymphatic cancer, in 2007 he came back to training after one month of chemotherapy and began competing shortly after completing his treatment. In 2011 he had a great run as the 2011 European weight division champion, Abu Dhabi World Pro Trials weight division and absolute champion and Abu Dhabi World Pro Cup division champion winning over some of the top names in the sport today like Marcus “Buchecha” Almeida, Leonardo Nogueira and others. Looking to further his winning streak, he had planned to attend the 2011 World Championships in Long Beach, CA however was unable to obtain a visa for the trip.
Now, he has high hopes that he will be able to get to the states for the 2012 IBJJF Long Beach Fall Open on December 8 at the esteemed Long Beach Walter Pyramid as he his applying for his visa and will know the results shortly. The Long Beach Open is the last chance for athletes to win a gold before the year ends and for Lagarto, it’s also a chance to win $5,000.
The IBJJ Pro League, which is happening the night of the Long Beach Open, is an invitation only event that combines the weight classes down to 4 separate categories with cash prizes for first and second place. The brackets have been filled except for the spots available for those who win their weight divisions at the Long Beach Open earlier in the day on December 8. Currently Lagarto is the only person in his division, ensuring his spot into the Pro League brackets along with Bruno Bastos, Gustavo Pires and Roberto “Tussa” Alencar to name a few.
In this chat with Lagarto, he speaks to GRACIEMAG.com about his eagerly awaited result of his visa application as well as his excitement towards finally competing in the U.S.:
How is your preparation going?
I’m currently in Liverpool waiting for my visa to be stamped. I find out tomorrow if I am able to get the visa for my trip to the Long Beach Fall Open. I’ve never been to America. The last time I was able to compete in the biggest tournaments was when the World Championships were in Brazil, but I haven’t seen them since it moved to the states. Other than that, I am teaching and training with Victor Estima and other Gracie Barra guys.
If you make it into the Pro League, how do you feel about competing against the athletes that are confirmed already like Bruno Bastos?
I have fought Bruno Bastos a hundred times! Back in Brazil we always used to fight because he is in my weight division. A lot of the guys who are the best guys in the world are people I have competed against or defeated before. But I am not very known because I have never competed in the states at the Pan Ams and the Worlds. So, because I can’t go there, I have to hunt them down elsewhere, haha!
Do you think coming to the Long Beach Open and participating in the IBJJ Pro League will help you get the recognition you deserve?
I don’t really care about having a big name but I want to be remembered and I want to be a good influence for my students. I think the people today have a very short memory because they don’t remember all of the big names in the past. I have students who have no idea who the top guys were some six to eight years ago! I want to believe that after I die I will have been remembered for everything I did and that people won’t forget about me. I beat cancer and I came back and won one of the biggest tournaments in the world. I want to be remembered as an inspirational person.
If you have not registered yet for the 2012 IBJJF Long Beach Open you can still confirm your spot! Don’t forget to do so; you have until Friday, November 30 to sign up. Go to www.ibjjf.org to register. Don’t miss the last chance of the year to put your competition gi to use!