Take Andre Galvão, the 2011 ADCC +88kg and open class champion.
What we all knew was that he had one of the best performances of his career.
In his eight matches in Nottingham, UK, on September 24-25, he defeated Don Ortega, Gunnar Nelson, Pablo Popovitch (twice), Rousimar Palhares, Shinsho Anzai, Sergio Moraes and Murilo Santana.
First he ruled over his weight division, beating Ortega, Gunnar, Popovitch and Palhares.
The final match against Toquinho was later on chosen the best one of the entire competition.
Until that point, Palhares had three heel hooks on his record, against Dan Schon, David Avelan and Rafael Lovato Jr.
Asked afterwards if he feared for his knees and ankles during the final against Toquinho, Galvão answered with the confidence of champions: “Jiu-Jitsu for Jiu-Jitsu I knew mine was better.”
Despite the confidence, the fact is Palhares managed to attack Galvão’s leg .
Andre told GRACIEMAG’s Marcelo Dunlop at the time how he kept his cool not to tap to such a violent force: “I started to spin to the wrong side. Then I thought, damn I going to stay put. He tried two more times but I noticed he was getting tired.”
After neutralizing his opponent’s most dangerous weapon, Galvão put his game to work.
After a takedown, Toquinho turned on all fours and Andre went for the back take.
In the end, the 8-3 lead earned Galvão his first ever ADCC gold medal.
Watch the match here.
So it was time for the open class division, the icing on the cake.
After all he had gone through, as we’re going to know about further along this story, there was no way Galvão would not compete in that too.
First he choked Japanese Anzai with a RNC, then beat Sergio Moraes by points and made it to the final after a tough win over Murilo Santana.
The final match would be against Pablo Popovitch, but it didn’t last much.
In only 3:15, Galvão managed to have a toe hold in place and get the tap to become once and for all the standout of the event.
The celebration included some capoeira moves.
Watch the match here.
Now, going back to the first sentence of this story, here’s what you didn’t know about Galvão’s campaign at the 2011 ADCC.
Up until the moment he disembarked in England, he had no clue if he was going to be allowed in the country.
He told people why on a post on Facebook some time after the event: “I was training without knowing if I was going to get in. In 2009, I was deported from the UK back to Brazil. Also, I was in the middle of my Green Card process and I was not allowed to leave the US. The authorization to travel came three weeks before the 2011 ADCC.”
The uncertainty haunted Galvão all throughout his camp, as he wrote about: “Sometimes, during the sessions while I was training so hard and sweating so much, I was thinking: ‘why am I doing all this. They will never let me in there again or maybe I can’t even go there.”
The moment of truth came at the airport: “When I was on the plane ready to arrive in the UK I just thought they were going to kick me out again. What was I doing there. In fact they did give me a hard time, but eventually let me in. They gave me only four days to stay and I had to leave the country on September 29th, the day of my birthday. So as soon as I got my bags I thought: ‘I want to fight so hard now. I want to win it’.”
So, in he went and after four days he flew back home with two gold medals and proud of knowing his name was forever linked to the history of the 2011 ADCC.
To do that, he had to beat the British immigration and eight tough guys. Andre knew where the strength to do it came from: “When you are loyal, God is loyal. So whatever I do I will do for Him. Because He is my power and my strength.”
After 2011, Galvão fought at the 2013 ADCC, in China, where he got back at Braulio Estima for the famous inverted triangle defeat in 2009. In Beijing, Andre won the superfight with a rear-naked choke.
He’s now getting ready for his second superfight against Roberto Cyborg.
If he wins, he’ll join José Mario Sperry (1999, 2000) as the two men with two ADCC superfights victories in a row.
The 2015 ADCC takes place in São Paulo, Brazil, on August 29-30.