Gabriel Vella, a big guy who digs little guy Jiu-Jitsu

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Vella against the smaller Guilherme Mendes. Photo: Luca Atalla

Ryan Gracie team representative Gabriel Vella was swamped this Monday afternoon. After the tour that took him from California to Abu Dhabi and yielded another three medals for his collection, he had to put his life in order here in Brazil. Even so, Vella found a bit of time to speak with Check out the interview:

What are your thoughts on your participation in the Jiu-Jitsu Pan, where you won the super heavyweight division?

It was a really important victory for my career. It’s a title carrying weight. Despite having only had a few matches, each of them was like a final, with really tough opponents. I went through on a by and, right off the bat, I faced Antonio Peinado. Then came Big Mac, who’s another who’s always in the finals. He has judo-style game and is hard to take down or sweep.

What was it like facing Peinado, your teammate during your time at Alliance?

There was no problem at all. We train, we fight and it’s all the same thing. There’s no mystery to it, and to me it was fine.

Vella beats Demente in the absolute. Photo: Luca Atalla

Then came the World Pro, in Abu Dhabi. There you didn’t win, but took third in the absolute and second at weight (over 92kg)…

I was only planning on going to the Jiu-Jitsu Pan. But I got an invite to fight at the World Pro during the Pan and I made the trip from Los Angeles, which is even farther and more tiring. I got there Wednesday night and on Thursday I was already competing. It was an obstacle I overcame and I put in a really good performance. I was runner-up at weight, but the day before I’d beaten Ricardo Demente in the absolute (opponent in weight group final). What made the difference in the final with him was a detail. He knew how to take better advantage of his opportunities (see video below).

Jiu-Jitsu is effective in the weak overcoming the strong” Gabriel Vella

What are your thoughts on Claudio Calasans, a fighter who’s not that heavy, winning the World Pro absolute division?

I always like seeing that. That’s where Jiu-Jitsu is effective. The marvelous part about it is the lighter guy being able to overcome the heavier. Calasans is a guy who trains and deserves it. He’d been just missing in the absolute, is always dangerous. This time it was his day and congratulations to him. I happy for him because I teach my students that in Jiu-Jitsu, the weak can overcome the strong.

Sign-ups for the Brazilian nationals are open. You going for weight and absolute?

I’m confirmed at the Brazilian Nationals and the Worlds, always shooting for the top, which is to conquer the two divisions. First the focus is to do my homework, which is to win my division. But the absolute is always that added bonus. I’m going for it too!

Check out the final between Vella and Demente below:

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