Overweight as a child, Felipe ” Preguica ” Pena (Gracie Barra) though he was clumsy in Jiu-Jitsu, but like an ace he proved to himself he was wrong. Absolute world champion at purple belt and runner-up at brown, the Brazilian kid from Minas Gerais already showed everyone that he would bring trouble to whoever crossed his path as a black belt.
Last weekend in Long Beach, California, Felipe fought his first IBJJF Worlds as a black belt and exited with gold, beating the star Andre Galvao in the finals of the heavyweight by 6-4, with a festival of sweeps and attacks on the foot.
What the new phenomenon of Jiu-Jitsu learned from the World title? GRACIEMAG uncovered.
GRACIEMAG: Felipe, what made a difference in your conquest of the World?
FELIPE PENA: I was complete; I played top and bottom, wherever I felt confident. Just believed and everything worked. It was my first worlds as a black belt so it could not be better. In the heavyweight division I had five bouts and finished all my fights but the final match against Andre Galvao. I was fighting at light heavyweight, but it already had Romulo Barral and Braulio Estima, so I decided to take my chances on the heavy and it felt great, I think I’ll stay in this category. I do not want to keep losing weight for every tournament, so I prefer to fight in the category accordantly to my body weight. I want to reach the superheavyweight division one day to become stronger in the absolute.
You played open in the Worlds, top and bottom. The bread and butter were the secret?
The basic Jiu-Jitsu is without any doubt the most important, but I also think it is necessary to monitor the development of the sport. I love the modern Jiu-Jitsu and different positions. I putted in my head that I would be champion. No matter what your opponent has won or how many times he was world champion, at that time in the fight it is only you against him, the winner will be the best in the fight that day.
In your opinion, how was the fight against Andre Galvao? Have you received any hints from Barral?
Rominho gives me a lot of confidence. I always ask him about what to do in my fights and he always says the same thing: “Brother, do anything. You are good in every position, you will be the champion “[laughs]. I think I surprised everyone in the pyramid. Who knew me, knew I could be champion; but most of the viewers were expecting André to be the champion. It was an honor to fight him, always been a fan of his Jiu-Jitsu and fighting against him at the Worlds final is amazing. It was a bustling and beautiful match without stalling, and I think that was what everyone wanted to see. The end of the fight was “hell” [laughs]. Galvão took me down, but I got under him fast to attack his foot. I need to sweep to win, so I managed to get up at the end and score 2 points.
What lesson did you learn after the world’s gold, Felipe?
When I became champion I saw a movie in my head, everything I’ve been through to get there. I was “chubby”, lazy and clumsy in Jiu-Jitsu; so that day turned out to be the best day ever. If I am a champion, it is because I never stopped believing. It’s all about if you’re willing to pay the price. Now I’ll rest a bit, focus on seminars and working at my gym. Next month, I begin to train hard again for the “Copa Podio” in September. Anyone interested in seminars, just look for me on Facebook.