After a year and three months without competing, João Gabriel Rocha again stepped on the mat during the 2015 Pan. The emotion was inevitable after violent chemotherapy sessions that burned his veins, but not undermined his grit and determination.
Victorious against a severe cancer, the Soul Fighters star is again in good physical shape. He felt, however, that the absolute was a big step to take in his return to competitions, so João decided to fight only the ultra-heavyweight division. The opponent was Gustavo Dias. João tells us how the match went down:
“I do not know how I won the first fight. The excitement consumed me, I had never been in a fight crying, “says the black belt, who competes since he was 3 years old.
With tears in his eyes, John tried to fight on automatic. Worked well to pass guard, had some good moments but ended winning by four advantages.
In the second fight, already in the quarterfinals, the opponent would be the dangerous Luiz Panza. That’s when the long time away from competitions would take its toll on João. Panza managed to get his famous foot lock in place from the 50/50 guard to win.
João, sorry for the defeat, did not notice that his return to health was the greatest victory.
“I know about all that I went through, but losing is hard for me. Take note, tough, I will come back even stronger. I already have a new goal set. I will fight the Rio Fall Open at the end of the monthl, in Rio de Janeiro, to pick up pace again, “he said.
João Gabriel is back.