Although most often our attention is turned to the adults’ age group, there’s no denying that the masters can be plenty competitive. At the IBJJF Pan held in early March in Irvine, master-2 competitor Thiago Gaia had to get past the likes of Bruno Bastos and Ricardo “Pantcho” Feliciano to claim the ultra-heavyweight and absolute titles.
“I started preparing a month before the tournament,” Gaia told us. “I did my camp in the U.S. with my master, Julio Cesar Pereira, at GFTeam Orange, and also with instructor Nathanael Soli, or Nate, at Oceanside Jiu-Jitsu. I trained hard, because I knew that in order to become champion in my category and in the absolute category, there would be tough battles. I fought eight times in total — four in my weight division and four in the absolute.
“In the ultra-heavyweight division, I took on tough guys like Bruno Munduruca [of Gracie Humaita] and Ricardo Pantcho [of Checkmat]. In the absolute, I did my semifinal match with a guy who many times inspired me in competitions, Bruno Bastos. In the final, I fought Adriano Silva [of Barbosa JJ], and to fight him, I had to be alert to the extreme, but thank God everything worked out.
“With my supporters in Macaé at Gaia Fighter gym and my wife at my side, everything gets easier. It’s a feeling of mission accomplished, and now I’m all about focusing on two events: the IBJJF Worlds, where I’ll fight as an adult, and the World Master Championship. God willing, I will be on two more podiums this year!”
Click play below to see the ultra-heavyweight final, and watch out for this veteran that moves like a younger man when the IBJJF Worlds rolls around.