Zé Mario on Silva/Weidman & match against Gurgel: ‘We define ourselves through our opponents’

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Zé Mario vs Renzo Gracie in ADCC 2011. Photo: Luca Atalla/Graciemag

At 46, Zé Mario Sperry is still up for new challenges. Next October the Carlson Gracie black belt will take on Fabio Gurgel in one of the superfights at ADCC in Beijing.

While he sharpens his Jiu-Jitsu with the X-Gym crew, the absolute world champion of 1998 and former Pride idol keeps a watchful eye on present-day MMA. At GRACIEMAG’s request he used his technical expertise to evaluate the upcoming  UFC 162 title fight between Anderson Silva and challenger Chris Weidman. And he is worried. Check it out:

GRACIEMAG: How do you view Anderson Silva’s July 6 title bout versus Weidman?

MARIO SPERRY: I’m very apprehensive about this bout. Weidman has a game that, from my viewpoint, may pose a real problem to Anderson. He has excellent wrestling, he moves very well on the ground, and he can punch and kick well.

Can you guess a result?

I’m hoping Anderson will have an inspired evening, for this opponent is his toughest yet.

How is your training going at X-Gym in Rio?

It’s going great. I’ve been fighting under supervision of the whole X-Gym team, which is headed by professors Josuel Distak and Rogério Camões. I’ve also been doing my physical preparation with professor Diogo de Souza. Since I was always away from gi training for a while, I’m now building back my base. I’m training a lot of Jiu-Jitsu. Since leaving Blackzilians, I now believe I have more time to invest in my preparation. Work was very gratifying over there, but also very intense. Besides running the training I was traveling a lot. I still miss the whole gang, the training and the city. It was a pleasant environment.

What’s changed since your win over Renzo at the 2011 ADCC in England?

The only thing that’s really changed is that this time I’m not completely inactive. The 2011 ADCC made me breathe Jiu-Jitsu again after four years away from the sport. I came back to the fighting world and wound up being invited to work at Blackzilians, which has kept me in shape so far. It was also instrumental in making friends and learning new techniques, strategies and training methods. I’m the same fighter, except more mature. I’m very competitive.

What’s most stimulating about the ADCC?

It’s the Olympics of grappling. The best, most determined fighters in the world test themselves. Winning the ADCC takes you to a new level. Also, I like the fact that there’s overtime.

And what’s your preview for the Gurgel fight, next October 19?

It will be neck and neck. We each have our style and he who manages to impose his game is going to win. When they asked whether I would fight Fabio, I said yes immediately. He has a great winning career, both as an athlete and a as coach of several generations of champions. We define ourselves through our opponents.

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