During the past weekend, new Alliance Ecuador black belt Francisco ‘Sinistro’ Iturralde competed at the IBJJF Chicago Summer Open on August 17-18. Sinistro has won the Worlds and Pan Ams both three times each as well as the Abu Dhabi WPJJC main event among many others. His debut at black belt was a success with a gold medal in the black belt adult lightweight division and a bronze medal in the open weight division.
Training and teaching in New York City, he plans for more tournaments in the future with similar results. He talked exclusively with GRACIEMAG about his matches and plans:
GRACIEMAG: What can you contribute to your successful first black belt gold medal?
FRANCISCO ITURRALDE: I was focused on imposing my game and to not let my opponents fix their positions. I was trying to make good grips the whole time so I can apply my game plan. I have been working more on specifics and Kinephys, my strength and conditioning coach, put a great conditioning plan for me so I didn’t get tired at all. The last thing you want to have in your mind while fighting for ten minutes is getting tired.
Who was your toughest match at the Chicago Open?
All of the matches were tough; I can see that in the black belt division you fight for small details or grips that make a great difference during the match.
What happened in your match against Vitor and what did you learn from your mistakes?
Vitor is a well-known competitor who medaled in the main tournaments this year so I felt his experience played a big role in that match. I opened the scoreboard with a sweep but he was able to manage the fight to get the win during the second half. Thank God I could get the gold medal [in the lightweight division] and God willing I will do the Boston Open this weekend. It was a great feeling to finally fight in a main Jiu-Jitsu event and share the podium with legends of the sport and also with my brother Leo. I will compete the most that I can to represent well for my team, my country [Ecuador] and family.
And what do you feel is your strongest asset as in what you can be known for at black belt?
I want to be the one who works the hardest and whatever happens during the match, will not give up.
See the match between Sinistro and Philipe Della Monica in the lightweight division: