One hour after the absolute final, Rodolfo Vieira came down from the restroom of the Long Beach gym where he’d done his drug test, and was already in a good mood.
“Buchecha kicked my butt,” he smiled, “but this only makes me want to train even more for our rematch, which certainly takes place next year. Having an adversary of his caliber only makes me better.”
After the wise analysis, the GFTeam steamroller goes back to kidding around. “I don’t know what hair color I’m using next year. I lost as a brunet, I lost as a blond – I’m screwed,” he said, getting the reporters nearby to burst into laughter.
But on a serious note, Rodolfo gave signs that he is thinking of a way to try and even things out with Buchecha: He may fight the next Worlds as a super-heavyweight.
Good news for the men in the heavyweight division, since Rodolfo had hardly a hiccup as he became a three-time champ over there. On Saturday he subbed Elliot Kelly in the round of eight. On Sunday he started by scoring 8-0 on Yuri Simões, then in the semi he caught Nivaldo Oliveira in a katagatame. Finally, he choked out Lucas Leite. A victorious sequence over three tough CheckMatters, whose supporters found solace in chanting in unison: “Buchecha is coming for you…” Here the voice of the people – however biased – turned out to be correct, and the open’s final was what everybody’s already seen by now: Buchecha swept, took the back and passed, and then worked an armbar before time ran out.
How about next year, reader? Can a super-heavyweight Rodolfo bridge the current gap between himself and Buchecha? As strong as they both are, it seems neither is quite done evolving, so what’s certain is it’ll be worth the wait.