Interview: Roberto Cyborg details his wins from the IBJJF No-Gi GP

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Roberto Cyborg, his arm raised following his triumph over João Gabriel in the final. Blanca Marisa Garcia

At 38, Roberto Cyborg is an undeniable force in worldwide BJJ. The ADCC’s 2013 absolute champion was brought into the IBJJF’s Heavyweight GP, held last weekend in Las Vegas, as a substitute. He took on fighters in their first years of top-level competition, and his experience spoke louder, enabling him to win three matches and a 40,000-dollar prize.

In a chat with Graciemag this week, Cyborg analyzed his invitation to the tourney, his duels with Victor Hugo, Lucas Hulk and João Gabriel, and the importance of claiming this title under the current circumstances, as he’s about to compete in the ADCC Submission Fighting World Championship. Below is that conversation.

GRACIEMAG: What’s your recipe for the longevity on the mats that so many dream of?

ROBERTO CYBORG: Indeed. I’m very happy to be able to put up a fight and enjoying this wonderful moment that BJJ is experiencing. I believe the recipe of longevity is to never stop, to love what you do a lot and to always believe.

What was your hardest fight from the GP?

The three fights were very hard, three completely different games. Victor Hugo is very flexible and long, with strong legs and long arms. The guy is weird and certainly will be making opponents work hard, but he still lacks the experience. The fight against Hulk was certainly the hardest, because I started out trailing and had to catch up. As well as very technical and strong, he fights pretty closed up. I managed to tire him, and that was decisive to winning. The fight with João was a fight of patience and positioning. João is a monster, and if you start out trailing him, it’s hard to turn things around. So I did a very safe fight.

Do you prefer to go into a tournament seen as having only an outside chance?

I don’t see the need, nor do I like the pressure, of being a favorite. At the level at which we compete, anyone can win or lose. Many are the variables that create a champion on the day. So I just worry about coming in healthy and being able to give it my best. Being the favorite doesn’t make you be the champion, so I don’t care about the little narratives. Put me as you wish, but when we get on the mat, you’ll know who the real champion is.

Despite being the athlete with the most no-gi titles among the invitees, I initially didn’t get the invite and ended up entering as a replacement. Thus my victory came with a sweeter taste. I’ve been at the top of the heap for 14 years, and intend to remain this way for a long time.

How does this title affect your endeavor to claim another ADCC title?

It would be another dream to come true, and I’m working a lot for it to happen. The ADCC is a very difficult event, but I’m certain that if I can get there healthy, I have the possibility to achieve this victory. But anyway, regardless of the result, I feel grateful and honored to be able to keep living my dream and continue to keep alive within me the flame of BJJ.

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