Last Saturday, Caio Terra lived up to his billing as favorite to win the up-to 64 kg division and seized the $5,000 prize for first place at an unprecedented IBJJF professional tournament in Long Beach, California.
Facing the consistent Laércio Fernandes in the final, Caio won the decisive match by three advantage points to one.
In the following interview with GRACIEMAG.com, Caio reveals what he learned during his exploits in the Walter Pyarmid this past weekend and commented on the frenetic footlock exchange he endured in the final. Check it out!
GRACIEMAG: What’s your assessment of your performance at the IBJJ Pro League?
CAIO TERRA: This may not have been my best performance of the year. And not just mine, but most of the black belts who competed. A lot of us had our minds on the end of the year, tired after a long Jiu-Jitsu season. I alone must have competed more than ten times in 2012. If we also take into account all the seminars and classes at my academy here in San Jose and at other branches, we can tell how tough it is to truly live the life of an athlete. Considering what a busy year I had, I think I did great.
You tapped out Daniel Beleza in the semifinal and beat Laércio on advantage points in the final. What’s your take on the decisive match?
Laércio is really tough, technical and fast and is strong for the division. Sometimes he is even overlooked by people who aren’t too familiar with him, but for sure he’s going to make a name for himself in Jiu-Jitsu. I don’t think either of us were in any danger during the match. His footlock didn’t even tickle. And mine was in tight but I didn’t feel his foot pop at all. The only time there was any danger may have been when I made it to his back early in the match, but he did a good job of escaping. At the end of the match, I was on his back; but he was losing and probably had to expose himself more than he normally would.
What lesson that could be of use to our readers did you learn at the championship?
I decided to do the championship out of support for the IBJJF’s initiative, for my friends and the teammates who were training for this event and for my sponsors, Gameness and Versa Climber, who helped me a lot. However, the truth is that I felt worn out, after so many Jiu-Jitsu battles this year. I really didn’t want to be there, much less compete. There was a strange feeling of defeat in me before the tournament began—all I wanted was to get the event out of the way so I could think about vacation, you know? So the big lesson I derived from it is to believe in myself more.
What about the prize money, did it make a difference?
This year I had some supermatches and I know how important it is to us athletes to get remunerated. There’s still no way to make a living just off of prize money and sponsorship. You have to have an academy or teach seminars, and that’s why life as a professional athlete is complicated. The cash prize was a good initiative, but it’s only a beginning. With $5,000 you can hardly make it two months in the USA, and so far only the champion gets the money. Sometimes we have to forgo teaching a seminar so that we can train, which makes it even more of a risk, and that’s why other athletes decline to compete. Over the years, the IBJJF has shown that whatever it is they set about doing tends to improve. I believe that soon there will be more divisions, better prize money and, perhaps, more League events during the year. I’d like to thank all the sponsors of the event, the IBJJF and the crowd for having contributed to this new step in Jiu-Jitsu becoming more professional.
Do you feel this IBJJF initiative may help dissuade competitors from migrating to MMA?
Most of the athletes who migrate to MMA because of money end up losing. To fight MMA, you have to really like the sport, and not do it for the money, because that will be the end of your career. Besides the fact you’ll be unhappy.
What are your plans for 2013?
I’m still wrapping up my latest seminar tour in the USA, and after that I’ll go to Brazil on vacation. The 2013 ADCC tryouts don’t figure in my plans yet. Here’s the deal, I won the last five World No-Gi Championships, I’m the current national No-Gi champion at weight and absolute. If the promoters don’t feel that’s enough to qualify me, it’ll be a shame… I got the most votes in the last poll that they held on their website. Still they ended up inviting other people and I got left out. For 2013 I’m planning really professional training camps at my academy for the Pan and Jiu-Jitsu World Championship. Plus I want to do seminars in Asia, Europe and on the East Coast of the USA. If any academy is interested in having me, please contact me via the email firstname.lastname@example.org or Facebook.