Isaque Bahiense on winning gold at A.D. Grand Slam Rio: ‘The pressure fascinates me’

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Isaque right after winning the title at  Abu Dhabi Grand Slam Rio de Janeiro. Vitor Freitas

Isaque Bahiense, 22, is living his best phase in competitive BJJ to date. After conquering a world championship in June, the Alliance black-belt has done it again, winning at Abu Dhabi Grand Slam Rio de Janeiro.

The Alliance SP fighter had to achieve five wins — two of which came by submission — to secure gold in the under-85kg division, beating Diego Ramalho (ZR Team) in the final. Isaque’s euphoric energy was on full display across the tournament, and it became clear that he was fighting for more than just a medal.

“I am living 100% to be the best in the world,” he said. “That’s why I’ve been improving with each championship.”

On pressure, he said, “It is something that fascinates me. I feel good with it; I like it. It is what, at times, propels me. It doesn’t bother me; it’s something that suits me.”

Isaque also broke down his final match: “My strategy for every fight is to win, regardless of how. I already knew my opponent and knew that he was going to want to hold me. I put it in my head that once I got rid of his grips, the fight was going to go however I wanted. Then I managed to impose my rhythm, my game — I scored 11 points and ended up with a position of submission.”

“But that’s the past,” Isaque added. “Now it’s time to go back to training. I’m 22 and have lots of room to evolve.”

Isaque will be fighting again at the IBJJF’s No-Gi Worlds, set to take place in December in California.

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