With three world championship titles under his black belt, one of them coming for winning the absolute, Rodolfo Vieira will be in the opening match of the Copa Pódio Heavyweight Grand Prix coming up January 13 at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil’s Hebraica Club.
The opening stage of the GP begins with fighters divided into two groups—the Green and the Yellow groups—and the GFTeam representative landed in the deeper of them alongside Xande Ribeiro, Léo Nogueira, Alexandro Ceconi and brown belt phenom Keenan Cornelius.
The current heavyweight champion of the world had a chat with GRACIEMAG.com during the final stretch in training before the big event. “You can expect a Rodolfo with plenty of desire to win and on the attack,” he says in the following interview.
GRACIEMAG.com: How are your preparations for the six-minute Copa Pódio matches coming?
RODOLFO VIEIRA: Six-minute matches are complicated because a lot of guys stall. There’s no getting tired, but I’m going to fight the way I always do: trying not to make any mistakes; otherwise, you’re through. Training went great. I didn’t stop for Christmas or New Year’s. The gang at GFTeam banded together for this event. I’m feeling really good in every aspect of the game.
Did you pay special attention to any one technique in particular—takedowns, guard…?
Man, if you go check out GFTeam you’ll see that there’s no problem with any of that; we do everything: half-, hook-, spider-guard, closed guard, passing guard at a distance and close up, takedowns. There’s no way to not be tip-top at a tournament after training with so much variety. I make the most of having all that. I’ve got to thank my team for that.
What’s your take on your group?
Deep down I knew I was going to end up in the toughest group. It’s always like that, isn’t it? I’m used to it.
Who’s the favorite to take the title, in your view?
It’s tough to name a favorite for a competition like this one, but there are some guys who can surprise you—like me! You can expect a Rodolfo with plenty of desire to win and on the attack.
You’re set to face Alexandro Ceconi in the opening round of the Heavyweight GP. What do you expect in that first match?
What can you say about [Alexandro] Ceconi as an athlete and person? He’s a great friend of mine, and he’s beat me before and I’ve beaten him. He’s always a tough guy to face. I know his game well. He’s good at takedowns, passes well and has a slick guard, too. You can see how lucky I am just by the first match, huh (laughs)?
Anything you’d like to say to the fans?
I’d like to thank God; my team, GFTeam; my conditioning coach Gabriel Marinho, who always does a fantastic job with me; and my sponsors. I want to thank all my fans for the support they’ve shown and all the messages they send me—there’s no shortage of them. Thanks, gang, from the heart!