In the early hours of that Friday, April 8th, during breakfast, athlete Catriel Oliveira had the first Herculean challenge of the day, a big dose of discouragement in a whisper nearby: “Sebastian Rodriguez from Unity is on a roll! He is the best athlete in the tournament. It’s impossible to beat him at 85kg ”. Enrolled in the same division, Catriel had moments of anxiety at the table while eating at that hotel in Abu Dhabi. But the hours leading up to his brown belt duels at World Pro 2021 would be to scare off this old ghost of his day, which would be epic.
“Before the European 2020, I had a lot of problems with that”, revealed Catriel, who represents Braus Fight, in a chat with GRACIEMAG. “If I heard that I would face a tough athlete or that someone was doing well in the category, I would promptly sabotage myself mentally. In the European, I fought with another mindset. I went in to have fun, without pressure and did my best tournament. Since then, these ideas have been trying to get around me, but I focus more on myself, fight as I like and the results keep coming. The goal now is happiness. ”
A week earlier, Catriel had fought the Grand Slam, also in Abu Dhabi. In addition to overcoming two fierce disputes, against Yago Neves in the semifinal and Mikael Rhaillander in the final, the six days that separated the Grand Slam from the World Pro were critical, focusing on his complete recovery for the most complicated tournament of his life, something he did not yet know.
“I was fully supported by coach Leonardo Micussi, who has been working with me and Braus for a while. I gave my all in the Grand Slam and arrived ready to do the World Pro marathon with all those fights. ”
Catriel refers to the complicated road towards the title at the World Pro, which is divided into two stages: a classification event between Brazilians and the main bracket. In total, Catriel faced eight fights to the gold, against the best of the world in his weight division.
In the qualifying round, a real undertaking, Catriel passed by Yago Neves, Jansen Gomes, Pedro Machado, and again, Mikael Rhaillander. The four duels would already be worth a title, but four more duels would be needed to guarantee the gold and the prize money. Only a honey packet, lost in the bottom of his backpack, nourished Catriel amid so many duels. In the main bracket, his first dispute would be against Mateus Meyer, classified directly by the AJP ranking.
“I was going to my fifth fight of the day, after facing tough opponents from Brazil, and Mateus would make his first fight with me. It is at that time that the mind has to be stronger. I focused on fighting forward and it worked, ”recalled Catriel.
After beating Mateus on the points and submitting Saif Alhimany, Catriel beat Hermes Lazarus in the semifinal to finally challenge Costa Rican Sebastian Rodriguez. A complicated fight, with no points or advantages in regulation time, was defined in the golden score, after a takedown applied by Catriel. And so the cycle was closed, with 12 challenges on and off the mat, which culminated in two gold prizes and a bunch of dollars in the pockets of the Brazilian athlete.
“I never had so many fights on the same day, nor in such a short time, seeing as I faced ten fights of a high level in less than a week. I’m happy with my evolution. I lost my father a few months ago and he was my biggest supporter. I really wish he was here to see that it worked, but now my fight is for my family who is in Brazil. I am going to stay in the United Arab Emirates for a while, training and teaching at JDA Center/GFTeam Dubai, of the black belt Julio dos Anjos. But I can only think about rest next month because in June there is another big tournament here ”, concluded the beast.