Xande Ribeiro turns 32 on the coming 20th of January, and he already knows what he wants to get. The Manaus, Brazil-born Jiu-Jitsu professor living in Los Angeles, California, has been putting in some serious training to win the Copa Pódio Heavyweight Grand Prix coming up in Rio de Janeiro on the 13th.
For the opening phase, the GP competitors are divided into two groups—and Xande ended up in the thornier of them, with current heavyweight world champion Rodolfo Vieira, brown belt standout Keenan Cornelius, two-time superheavyweight world champion Léo Nogueira and the well-rounded Alexandro Ceconi all making it an unpalatable mix indeed.
Xande, who has kept firm at the top of the sport’s competitive ranks since 2005, had a talk with GRACIEMAG.com about his preparations and the perspective he has on Jiu-Jitsu that has made him such a long-lived champion. Check out what he had to tell us.
GRACIEMAG: Six-minute matches against burly young bucks, and what’s more at the start of the season—how have you organized your training to again come out on top, this time at Copa Pódio?
XANDRE RIBEIRO: My training has been going perfectly. Truth is, to me this championship is the end of the season because I never stopped competing or training. I started my training with Rafael Lovato in Oklahoma, and I’m wrapping it up with the gang in San Diego and Los Angeles, here in the USA. I didn’t even do much celebrating during the end-of-year festivities. I hung out with my daughter and went to bed early. I focused on doing the same training as always, playing guard and passing, just more adjustment-oriented. Also, I worked a lot on speed because of the six-minute match duration. Who knows, maybe it’ll get me some venom.
What’s your take on your group?
I think my group’s awesome, despite all the world champions in it. To me it was great to end up in this group, because I get to fight two guys who beat me last year, Rodolfo Vieira and Léo Nogueira. Plus there’s the revelation Keenan Cornelius and Alexandro Ceconi, whom I’ve never faced before. This business about the group being the toughest is just because of the names and world titles in it, because both groups are tough. I see myself as being just another one in the mix, another one looking to win.
As you brought up, last year you faced Rodolfo in the World Championship heavyweight final, and he outpointed you by a takedown. What do you expect in this second encounter between you, a representative of the “old guard”, and him, representing the new generation?
I think it will be a show. Rodolfo’s tough and always goes all out. And who knows, maybe we’ll meet twice at Hebraica gymnasium.
Who’s your pick to win the couples duel, where Tanquinho faces Leandro Lo and Mackenzie takes on Luiza Monteiro?
It has all the makings of a war. Augusto Tanquinho beat Leandro Lo without the gi, and Mackenzie Dern and Luiza Monteiro are in excellent shape. I want to see this one.
What’s the secret to staying at the top of such a hotly disputed sport as Jiu-Jitsu for so long? Is there some trick to it or is it all in the head?
The secret is to always keep your mind open to new things, and to do a lot of stretching. Do Ginástica Natural, keep a good diet and learn to balance a heavy load of training with rest and fun. And of course, always believe that technique overcomes force.
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