Yago Souza, 27, is back on the competition scene. After a long hiatus where he had to overcome injuries and make personal decisions, the black-belt started competing masterfully again in 2021, and has already racked up four gold medals, won at the Orleans Open, Orlando Open, Memphis Open and Houston Open – and, just this month, the IBJJF’s Orlando Summer Open.
“I was absent because of my period of adaptation to the U.S. and also the various injuries suffered, which was very difficult for me to adapt to,” he explained in a recent interview. “I also had a period of adaptation to the food and routine from here, which is all very different from what I used to have in Brazil. But now it’s all normal, and I know the path to achieving great titles again. I’m very happy about having won four straight opens, and now my goal is to sign up for the absolutes to test myself more, just like I did at the Memphis Open.”
A Pan and European champion in the black belt, Yago is thirsty to repeat the feats he accomplished in big events in 2016 and 2017, when he won most of the tournaments he took part in, notching wins against Otávio Sousa, Vitor Oliveira, Josh Hinger, Marcos Tinoco and AJ, for example.
“My biggest goal in 2021 is to keep myself competing and 100% healthy to reach the greatest version of myself in the big competitions and get a good result,” he said. “I’m practicing plenty of jiu-jitsu and lifting weights to strengthen my body, all done truly with great care. I train five times a week. I’m happy with the moment I’m living.”
Yago likes fighting on top and on the bottom, which often greatly hinders the strategies of opponents, who don’t know where to attack during the fight.
“I’ve always liked being versatile,” he said. “I’ve always tried to learn about everything and never limit myself to just one type of technique. My biggest goal in jiu-jitsu is to reach a high technical level. I really like working with the basics, because I see that the basics are getting lost as the years go by. People want to skip the basics and learn complicated things; that’s why I insist on the basics. The basics are the base for everything.”
Yago has gold medals from the World Championship and Brazilian Nationals, events also held by the IBJJF.