For most people, it seems like Leandro Lo came out of nothing and landed right on top of the light/middle division.
Now a three-time world champion, Lo was first noticed by the Jiu-Jitsu community in 2011, when he won the Brazilian WPJJC trials in Gramado.
He then went to win the 74kg division in Abu Dhabi that same year and then made it big at the Brazilian Nationals, when he defeated Michael Langhi in the final.
His Professor Cicero Costha remembered his beginning to GRACIEMAG.com in a interview in 2011: “He takes an hour and a half by bus from his house to the gym to train. He is an example of dedication to Jiu-Jitsu”.
Lo was another talent brought up by Costha’s social project in São Paulo that introduced underprivileged children to the gentle art.
Three years later, he is a household name among the black belt division and one of the most exciting fighters in the game.
At 25 years old, Lo intends to be around for at least seven more years, as he tells GRACIEMAG.com: “Competing is what I love to do the most, so I want to compete until I am 32. Until then, let’s see how much more I am able win.”
Regarded as the owner of a virtually impassable guard, Lo is modest when analyzing his own qualities: “I don’t think my guard is impassable at all. It’s just that people in my weight division are more of finishers or guard players themselves so we end up trading sweeps.”
One guy that was unable to pass Lo’s guard was two-time world champion Otavio Sousa, in the 2014 Worlds middleweight final. Lo remembers how tough the match was and reveals that he almost tapped to one of Sousa’s attacks to his arm: “It was a battle indeed. He was stronger and with some great attacks. It was a really tough fight. One of the attacks to my arm was really in place and I almost tapped, but as it was a Worlds final I decided to hold on a bit more. In the end, I noticed that he was really tired and I took the opportunity to speed up and pass”.
At the 2014 Worlds, Lo once again tried his luck in the open class and made it all the way to the eight finals, when he lost to Keenan Cornelius. He tells why he signs up for the absolute: “I like to test myself and I want to be a open class world champion one day. Of course I know it’s hard and every year more tough guys come, but I want to win and each year I see what I have to improve to be better the next year.”
Competing in the open class was something another middleweight beast also loved to do. Lo wraps ups the interview talking about Marcelo Garcia, the five-time world champion and four-time ADCC champion. What a match between the two would be? “I never thought of a match with him. He is one of the toughest guys out there and I admire him a lot. I think he would run me over. I don’t doubt he will be back on top. Many times he took a break and came back to win”.