With a cell phone in one ear, Alexandre Souza, third place at last weekend’s Heayvweight Grand Prix, grabs the bag his gi’s in and puts some distance between himself and the bustle of fans, friends and press surrounding Rodolfo Vieira, the winner of yesterday’s Copa Pódio event at Rio de Janeiro’s Hebraica club.
Speaking with the folks back home in Santa Catarina State: “Hey… The tourney’s over. It was great, I only lost to Rodolfo. The guy’s way too strong; he’s really tough to face. The event was really cool, though, and…”
Still in a gi, Rodolfo hugs fans and family while joking around with his friends and taking pictures with everybody. The two-time heavyweight world champion is indeed, as those in attendance and promoter Jeferson Maycá could attest, “a fighter a cut above the rest these days,” in the words of the black belt Augusto Tanquinho, for example.
In the Heavyweight GP, Rodolfo lived up to such billing, and before a crowd that included stalwart black belts like José Aldo, Fernando Tererê, Thales Leites and more.
Trained and overseen by Jiu-Jitsu professor Julio César, the GFTeam phenomenon had six matches and won them all. In the group phase he tapped out Alex Ceconi and outpointed Léo Nogueira, Keenan Cornelius and Xande Ribeiro. In the semifinal he notched another submission, on Alexandre Souza. And then he met and outpointed Nogueira once again, in the final.
Mulling around near Rodolfo’s celebrations, Leonardo Nogueira smiles, resigned to being runner-up. It, according to both of them, was the 11th time the two met in competition.
“I have to train more on bottom,” said Léo, 25, who in the semifinal outdid Braga Neto by a 7-0 score after passing guard and mounting.
“I think today’s game plan made things tougher on Rodolfo, playing half-guard on bottom. The half-guard is in fact the game Rodolfo likes most, as he squashes you up and passes mercilessly. But I fight a lot and don’t let him pin my shoulders to the ground. I think I’ll be able to pull off shaking him more and sweeping in our next matches. The berimbolo might work too, as Bochecha proved at the Worlds. We’re going to train more,” said the Alliance black belt with a wink.
Carrying a giant trophy, Rodolfo reviewed his impeccable campaign and the riveting matches he had with Xande, Nog and Keenan Cornelius, when he passed the Llord Irvin student’s guard with just 30 seconds left in the regulation six minutes.
“Keenen’s really flexible, and the canvas was slipping some, which is a plus for his game. But that wasn’t the trickiest match—the toughest were against Xande and the final with Léo [both won on advantage points]. I didn’t do anything differently at this GP: I played on top, brought on the pressure, weighed on them with my shoulder and was determined to pass. In the final, since it counted for money, I held back and got by on advantages. Léo’s really tough and we know each other well…” said the champion.
Leandro Lo wins two and goes to the ground
Not counting the GP, the big standout of the night was Leandro Lo, who early in the evening faced Augusto Tanquinho in the Couples Showdown and won by 5-2. Just before the grand finale, he returned to the mat and came from behind in minute 9:50 and passed the stalwart black belt Felipe “Preguiça” Pena’s guard: 3 to 2. Exhausted after the battle, the two collapsed each to a side right next to the stage.
Another moving moment was the promotion of João Gabriel Rocha, who after a long journey at brown was awarded his black belt by Soul Fighters coach Leandro “Tatu”. In the crowd, his mother, Regina, broke into tears, capping off a Sunday of assorted emotions.
Check out the complete results:
Copa Pódio – Heavyweight GP
Clube Hebraica, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
January 13, 2013
Manaus (Diego Borges/Checkmat) defeated Brasília (Rodrigo Reis/Tanque JJ) via armbar submission.
Leandro Lo defeated Augusto Tanquinho by 5 to 2;
Mackenzie Dern defeated Luiza Monteiro by 8 to 2.
Total: 10 to 7 for Tanquinho and Mackenzie
GP ROUND 1
Alexandre Souza (Gracie Floripa) defeated Lúcio Lagarto (GB) by 2 to 0;
Braga Neto (Gordo JJ) defeated Bruno Bastos (Nova União) by 10 to 0;
Keenan Cornelius (Lloyd Irvin) defeated Léo Nogueira (Alliance) by 2 to 2 on sweeps;
Rodolfo Vieira (GFTeam) tapped out Alexandro Ceconi.
GP ROUND 2
João Gabriel (Soul Fighters/Rio de Janeiro) defeated Alexandre Souza (Gracie Floripa) by 2 to 0 (takedown);
Braga Neto (Gordo JJ) defeated Lúcio Lagarto (GB) by 4 advantages to 0;
Xande Ribeiro (Ribeiro JJ) defeated Keenan Cornelius (Lloyd Irvin) by 4 to 2;
Rodolfo Vieira (GFTeam) defeated Léo Nogueira (Alliance) by 9 to 0.
GP ROUND 3
Alexandre Souza (Gracie Floripa) defeated Bruno Bastos (Nova União) by 10 to 0;
Lúcio Lagarto (GB) defeated João Gabriel (Soul Fighters) by 7 to 0;
Alexandro Ceconi (Ceconi) defeated Keenan Cornelius (Lloyd Irvin) by 1 advantage to 0;
Léo Nogueira (Alliance) defeated Xande Ribeiro by 2 advantages.
GP ROUND 4
Braga Neto (Gordo JJ/Porto Velho) and Alexandre Souza (Gracie Floripa) fought to a 2-2 advantage-point draw;
João Gabriel (Soul Fighters) defeated Bruno Bastos (Nova União) by 3 to 0;
Rodolfo Vieira (GFTeam/Rio) defeated Keenan Cornelius (Lloyd Irvin) by 10 to 0;
Xande Ribeiro (Ribeiro JJ) tapped out Alex Ceconi via armbar from triangle.
GP ROUND 5 (FINAL ROUND)
Lúcio Lagarto (Gracie Barra/Londres) defeated Bruno Bastos (Nova União) by 10 to 0;
Braga Neto (Gordo JJ/Porto Velho) swept João Gabriel (Soul Fighters) to win 2 to 0;
Léo Nogueira (Alliance) choked out Alexandro Ceconi (Ceconi);
Rodolfo Vieira (GFTeam/Rio de Janeiro) defeated Xande Ribeiro (Ribeiro JJ) by 6 advantages to 0.
Léo Nogueira defeated Braga Neto by 7 to 0 (pass and mount);
Rodolfo Vieira tapped out Alexandre Souza via armbar.
Leandro Lo defeated Felipe Preguiça in come-from-behind 3-2 win by passing guard with 10 seconds left on the clock.
Rodolfo Vieira defeated Leonardo Nogueira by 3 advantages to 1.