Leandro Lo and the art of infinite stamina: ‘You must pace yourself’

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Leandro Lo tries to choke Alan Finfou at the Rio Open. Photo: Gustavo Aragão / GRACIEMAG

Last weekend, the gymnasium at Tijuca Tennis Club hosted the sixth edition of the IBJJF’s Rio Open, an event that occurs parallel to the charming International Masters and Seniors.

More than that, it also served as the stage to a great fight between a skinny fighter and a super-heavyweight, a type of duel that has always been part of the essence of Jiu-Jitsu.

Leandro Lo, the lightweight world champion, signed up this time at middleweight, and the tactic worked: he won the absolute at the end of a final versus João Gabriel Rocha.

After passing through the light heavyweight Felipe Preguiça (Gracie Barra) in the semifinal of the open, Lo beat João Gabriel by one advantage. After the match, he commented on his victory with GRACIEMAG: “The decisive point in this fight was again my guard; I had to take my spider guard to its limit to win this [laughs]! After many years of training, I feel good under my opponent, regardless of whether he is a big guy like João or a smaller guy. I use this game of spider guard and it has always worked – I always control one sleeve and hold tight there near the bottom of the pants, and I drill it in the gym. And it worked in the absolute final,” said the Cicero Costha student.

That same afternoon, Leandro won gold at middleweight with an arm submission against Alan Finfou (Checkmat) in the final. He told of what changed for him in this new category: “I prepared myself better than for the Pan, when I fought also among the middleweight and did not do well. Now I am doing weight training and preparation! I think that was key for me to get good at middleweight. I did not really like working out, but now I’m picking up the weights and feeling much stronger,” said Lo, who praised the runner-up.

“The fight with Alan Finfou was good; I had fought with him in Sao Paulo before the Rio Open. He is very tough on top, he applies good takedowns and is fast. Finfou threw me down, but I adjusted myself and got back at him with a sweep. Then I got his back and applied the choke, but my arm was a little over his mouth and ended up slipping. So I made the correct grips on his arm and found an armbar at the end.”

Before leaving the venue, GRACIEMAG wanted to know about Lo’s stamina, which seems to have no end during fights. To which Leandro replied with this nugget: “It’s what I always tell people, teammates and fans: in fact I do not have a lot of stamina. What
I do is pace myself very well during fights, holding my grips fast. It looks like I’m attacking all the time, but sometimes I pretend to attack – some of those times I rest… You need to know how to pace yourself.”

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