Champion of the middleweight and absolute divisions in 2013 Brazilian National in São Paulo, Luanna Alzuguir (Alliance) had to face even bigger ghost than her opponents last weekend.
First, she shrugged off the losses after leaving the WPJJC in Abu Dhabi with a silver medal in the weight division and the absolute.
After some training adjustments, however, she came back home with the fourth title in the black belt division. And in style, with an armbar on Michelle Nicolini during the absolute final. “Michelle and I have fought since 2005 and have never had any submissions, on either side,” recalls Luanna.
See what else she conquered and learned in her chat with GRACIEMAG.
GRACIEMAG: Did you have a perfect performance during the Brazilian CBJJ, Luanna?
LUANNA ALZUGUIR: This Brazilian National was one of the best championships of my career! I say it, not because of the result, but because of the mood of the competition and how I felt during the event. The championship level was very high and in the absolute, all three fights I had were against girls who are or have been world champions at black belt. Disputing a title like this is always motivating.
Did you feel it would be your day from the beginning?
At the beginning I felt stuck, but I moved on quite well from one fight to another. I’ve been building confidence and getting more comfortable to do my game. Many things have changed after the Gramado WPJJC Trial in March. In my physical preparation I spent more time doing drills. I also began to teach fewer classes. But undoubtedly the most important was the change in my thinking. I tried to compete with the greatest pleasure as possible and without feeling pressured, and it worked!
What have you learned after letting the gold slip in WPJJC Abu Dhabi in April?
This defeat has changed many things for me. I feel like I entered a new phase and I’m learning a lot with all this. I heard an interesting comment after the defeat I had in Abu Dhabi and it’s something to remember: “It’s not hard to get to the top and stay there; it is hard to be on the top, fall and get back there.” I wanted to outdo myself and win again more than ever.
What do you think you did differently from other athletes to win the weight and absolute categories?
Nowadays high-level competitors prepare well, both technically and physically and the distinctive aspect just comes from within us. It is the way of thinking, the willingness to fight and motivation. This was growing inside of me and I have no doubts that it made a difference. Also, I have Fabio Gurgel as coach, Luciano Casquinha working my physical preparation, Andresa Correa as a training partner and great friend, Alliance as a team and support from my family. Everything ends up making a difference.
How do you review the fight with Michelle Nicolini in the Brazilian National absolute final?
Michelle is an athlete who I really respect; I always want to be on the other side of the draw (laughs). She is experienced, technical and full of dangerous moves. Our fights are always wars, and in this fight I imposed my game the whole time and, by knowing her game well, I tried to defend what she does best. The strategy worked and I ended up ahead on points the whole match. By implementing my game and trying to submit, I ended up scoring. It was a fight where I made a few mistakes and I worried a lot about countering her game, so it would be possible to stay ahead by moving all the time. To avoid being trapped by her dangerous moves, I controlled her body well, without giving her any space. This time, the more I was evolving in the fight, the more I believed it would be possible to submit. I used the armbar from the high mount and it worked. It’s a move that I learned and sharpened with Murilo Santana in 2008, after losing the semifinal of the Brazilian National absolute against Luzia (Fernandes), where I had the opportunity to submit with this same move and I lost.
At the final of the middle weight, you faced Barbara Gomes and even took her back, but didn’t submit. What was missing?
Barbara is strong and is the type of person who fights until the end. I did my best to seize the moment and submit, but she resisted and defended herself. I’m not sure what went wrong at that time, but this week the first training I did was about the back (laughs). Repetition is the key to build confidence.
How many Brazilian National titles do you have as a black belt?
Four black belt titles and seven among all belts. It was my first absolute in the Brazilian National as a black belt and that was the only title missing in my career. I’m glad to have conquered it during these years of black belt. I’ve got all titles of our sport in weight and absolute. It’s the result of the commitment I have with my profession and my dreams.