The Copa Podio Middleweight GP has undergone many changes since its first announcement however the roster is now set for the September 8 event. Manuel Diaz, a Mexican-American, will take on the spot that fellow competitor Keenan Cornelius left when he chose to opt out recently.
Manuel Diaz is a brown belt under Caio Terra who received his most recent belt rank on the podium of the 2012 World Championship at the hands of Caio. The Bay Area native has only been training since 2009 but already accumulated World and Pan American titles as well as a spot at the 2012 Abu Dhabi WPJJC after winning double gold at a trial event in which he severely injured his ankle half-way into his matches.
Known as a hard worker with a severe obsession towards what he loves (he played golf avidly for years) he takes his heart of gold to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in September to take on some of the best in the world.
GRACIEMAG asked Manny some quick questions during a break in his schedule, see what he says about his invitation:
GRACIEMAG: How did you feel when you were invited to a prestigious tournament on such late notice?
I was honored to be invited, honored to be considered even though I’m still a brown belt.
What is your training routine and are you making changes to accomodate this tournament?
Right now evening training is the only training I have due to a full time job, unfortunately. Although it was short notice I still feel I have plenty of time to prepare. I started training at 5 a.m. to adjust my body to the time change. I think this is the biggest change I’ve made for the event but other than that it’s still the same training at Institute of Martial Arts.
Who do you feel is your biggest threat?
Everyone in the tournament is very skilled and I feel that each of them are equally dangerous. They were invited because of this fact and I feel honored to be on the same card.
Do you feel that you are already a force at the black belt level despite still having a brown belt around your waist?
As far as me being a force on the black belt level I still feel I have a ton to learn. The only thing I can do is give it my all and leave it all on the mat; time will tell.
The Copa Podio Middleweight Grand Prix will be on Sunday, September 8; more information and a livestream feed available at: www.copapodio.com
Check out his preparation from the 2013 Worlds Camp at GMA Institute of Martial Arts: