Interview: Rubens Cobrinha on world title, Grand Slam win

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Cobrinha after winning his fifth world title. Beatriz Lina/ Graciemag

At 37, Rubens Cobrinha has been collecting big BJJ titles for a while. In the 2016/2017 season he added to that collection not only his fifth world championship, but also gold at the Euros, Pan and Brazilian Nationals, making him the first-ever featherweight Grand Slam winner.

Graciemag had a chat with him following his victory at the Worlds. Read on for the interview.

GRACIEMAG: After dominating the featherweight class between 2006 and 2009, you came back and won a world title again this year. What compels you to remain such a high-performance athlete after having won all there was to win?

Rubens Cobrinha: For this year, I proposed to myself to compete in and win every big championship (Euros, Pan, Brazilian Nationals and Worlds). I’m really satisfied to be the first featherweight athlete to conquer the BJJ Grand Slam. I dominated the featherweight category for four years. My “kingdom” lasted until I decided to open my own gym in Los Angeles and shift my focus. Of course I continued to compete, because I really love what I do, and I could not stay away from the World Championships, but my dedication was no longer exclusive, because I had to manage my gym and, if possible, make it a success.

Your title fight was against Leonardo Cascão, of BTT, and ended in a one-advantage win for you. Can you analyze that one for us?

Everybody enrolled for the Worlds has conditions to win and become a champion. Every day it gets harder for there to be a favorite, whether in the featherweight category or any other. Cascão came in very well prepared, and the fact that the fight was decided by one advantage shows that either of us could have won. The fight was decided in the details. He is an excellent athlete, evolving alongside BJJ. I thank him for the great fight we had, and hope to see him become a world champion.

Before the final, you faced Shane Hill-Taylor in a back-and-forth match decided by the judges. A lot has been said of the result. What is your opinion on it?

The fight ended in a draw, and that confirms what I said before; it is not possible to point to favorites in BJJ’s current stage. The fight was great; however, every fight that ends in a draw ends up generating controversy. I believe the criticism to the judges’ decision comes from the fact that we love BJJ; we have our favorite athletes, our friends, our idols — so it’s very hard to analyze the fight objectively, especially in the heat of battle. I really do believe I deserved at least one more advantage than was given me by the judge panel, but I did not complain. I accept the judges’ decision; that’s what they’re there for — to analyze the fight with no passion. It’s their job. My job is to fight fairly and give it my best. Walking out with my head held high, win or lose, with no drama. But ideally the fight gets resolved in the time allotted, so the decision doesn’t land in the judges’ hands.

Are you coming back next year?

To tell you the truth, I don’t know yet. My next engagement is to defend my ADCC title in Finland. My plans only go that far, for now. My plans for next year will be drawn after that engagement.

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