Lucas Leite overcomes sign-up blunder, triumphs at No-Gi Nationals

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CheckMat representative Lucas Leite walked into the American Nationals on Sunday looking for a fight… a No-Gi fight, that is. Although he was nursing a forearm injury, he signed up to compete in the medium heavyweight division anyways and had one match on the day, facing Ribeiro JJ’s Matthew Jubera.

Lucas, who traditionally competes at middleweight, explains that his sponsor, Hakai Kimonos, mistakenly put him the medium heavy division, which is why he was a division up for the Nationals. “It’s ok,” he laughs, “I didn’t have to diet.”

Despite the advantageous position, Leite didn't have the strength to finish. Photos by Deb Blyth

It didn’t seem to make a bit of difference, because Lucas pulled off the win anyway. He says he couldn’t put a lot of pressure on Jubera’s neck because he didn’t have the strength. “Usually when I take the back, the match is over,” he says, but he was unable to capitalize on having made it to the position due to his injured forearm.

Lucas was unable to compete in the absolute, so he allowed his teammates Marco “Sharpei” and Marcelo “Lapela” to move on instead. “We’ve been training in our camp all year,” Lucas says, “Me, Lapela, Sharpei, João Assis –we train four times a week. Now, we’re training for the No-Gi Worlds.”

Lucas, who took third at the 2010 No-Gi Worlds and first at the 2009 No-Gi Worlds, wants to get back to where he was in 2009 this year. “I want to win the No-Gi Worlds this year,” he states.

Lucas, who’s wife, Nikki, also won gold at the American Nationals, says he didn’t expect to be invited to this year’s ADCC, so he wasn’t offended when an invitation didn’t come. “I just got married,” he says, “I hope to do the ADCC in two years. Hopefully, me and my wife together. I really want to thank her family for supporting me in the US. Greg and Paulette have been very helpful to me and I’m proud to have their support.”

Triumph against bigger competition

Lucas was happy with CheckMat’s presence at the ADCC. “Leo (Vieira), Joao (Assis), and Michelle (Nicolini) all took second place,” he says proudly, “It’s a big accomplishment. People don’t realize how hard it is to make the finals in a tournament that big. I’m happy because I helped João train for the event.”

It was a good thing that Lucas didn’t compete in the absolute at the American Nationals because he wasn’t rested at all. “I was up all night watching the ADCC!” he laughs, “I’m glad I’m not doing the open. I only slept a couple hours last night.”

Lucas wants to thank Leo Vieira for teaching him everything he knows. “I will always fight for his team.”

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