Igor Paiva secured yet another gold medal for his collection by beating everyone at the 2020 IBJJF Pan, which ended on October 11 in Kissimmee, Florida. In the middleweight division of the master 1 age group, the Soul Fighters athlete had to fight four times, including an important victory over Jacob Mackenzie (GFTeam) in the very final.
Riding the momentum of a win over Xande Ribeiro at the Austin Open, the last tournament he competed in before the Pan, Igor revealed in a recent interview the secret to his excellent campaign.
“A level head, plus I was relaxed and calm,” he said. “I’m demanding less and less of myself. Jiu-jitsu goes far beyond winning championships, and that takes away the need to win at any cost. The people I chose to be around are also a differentiator. Here is a tip: put people beside you who add to your life.”
Igor then recounted his road to the gold medal: “The final was my most complicated fight, for sure. I fought against a very experienced athlete, Jacob Mackenzie. I remember being a blue belt and seeing him winning all the black belt championships. The fight was decided in the details, and I certainly need to devise a different strategy for the next time we fight. I even wanted to thank him for the fight, for the athlete and good person he is. It was the kind of final that only enhances our sport. The fight ended in a draw, but the judges decided in my favor, after one sweep to each side.”
A black belt since 2017, Igor has been training since he was 17 and has a respectable journey in competitions. He also shared his thoughts on the differences between competing in the adults’ and in the masters’:
“It’s just the match duration, plus the way of fighting ends up changing a little. I bet that a lot of high-level adults who were to venture into the master category would get in trouble if they fought for six minutes. It is very competitive, and the media has already understood that. As a result, more and more the master divisions get more and more space. Many world champions, athletes who have written their history and helped build what jiu-jitsu is today, are in the master division. It is a very prestigious division. To be fighting there in the middle of so many high-caliber athletes for me is an honor.”
Igor should be competing again in the coming months, pending an invitation to superfights in the combined 80kg weight division.