Interview: Rodolfo Vieira talks UFC debut and the shirt that never leaves his side

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About to make his debut in the UFC in Montevideo, Uruguay, Rodolfo Vieira is riding the momentum of his undefeated five-win record — and carrying a lucky amulet that has brought him much joy in MMA and BJJ.

Before migrating to MMA, Rodolfo was already bringing to the side of competitive BJJ mats his lucky blue shirt made of very light fabric, covered in religious print. Just a few days away from his debut in the UFC, scheduled for Aug. 10 against Oskar Piechota, Graciemag spoke to Rodolfo and asked something we’d been dying to know for years: what does the blue shirt mean? Find out below.

GRACIEMAG: Rodolfo, what’s the story with that blue shirt that’s always with you?

RODOLFO VIEIRA: The story of the blue shirt I wear, of the Sacred Family, is this: On my first international trip, which was the second Worlds in California, my family could not be there with me. And they always used to accompany me. Given that that time they wouldn’t be able to be there cheering and I’d be alone, my grandmother decided to give me this shirt as a gift, as a form of protection. And so I began wearing it in every championship, from 2008 to this day. I’d wear it before the fights, in the warm-up area. I’d only take it out to go to the mat to fight, but as soon as I was done, I’d put it back on.

You travel a lot, and people often forget something they need. Did you ever forget the shirt?

There have been championships I forgot to bring the shirt to, but everything worked out just the same. But I like being with it. I has become a lucky amulet. There’s no superstition surrounding it, but I’ll continue to carry my shirt.

What about debuting in the UFC? Does it weigh on you as much as debuting at the Walter Pyramid at the Worlds?

In my first fight in the Pyramid, I already had a lot of experience in BJJ. I had fought a lot. It was hard, I got very nervous, but I was already experienced enough to get through it. It’s unlike MMA, where this will be just my sixth fight, and my debut in the UFC, the world’s biggest MMA event. Now I just have to work on my mind, watch my diet and hit the weight, and stick to the basics, like I’ve been doing, to seek another submission.

You used to call yourself a white-belt in MMA. As you step into the Octagon, have you earned the purple belt yet?

I think I’m almost getting the blue belt. I’m like that fourth-degree white-belt. That tough white-belt whose teacher is holding back to not give him the blue belt just yet. I feel like that guy. [Laughs.]

UFC Montevideo
Montevideo, Uruguay
Aug. 10

Valentina Shevchenko vs. Liz Carmouche
Vicente Luque vs. Mike Perry
Luiz Garagorri vs. Humberto Bandenay
Volkan Oezdemir vs. Ilir Latifi
Rodolfo Vieira vs. Oskar Piechota
Enrique Barzola vs. Bobby Mofett

Preliminary card

Ciryl Gané vs. Raphael Bebezão
Gilbert Durinho vs. Alexey Kunchenko
Tecia Torres vs. Marina Rodriguez
Rogério Bontorin vs. Raulian Paiva
Geraldo de Freitas vs. Chris Gutierrez
Rodrigo Kazula vs. Alex Leko
Veronica Macedo vs. Polyana Viana

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