Mario sets goals, praises Mendes, but warns: “I can be number 1”

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Mario Reis likely to be at European Open. Photo: GRACIEMAG archives

Two-time Jiu-Jitsu world champion featherweight Mario Reis is now regarded as a veteran by the new generation coming up in competition. But the leader of Gracie Barra Porto Alegre still has a lot of fuel in his tank, he guarantees it. During a conversation with, the black belt sets his goals for 2011, looking forward to the European Open, and among other things, he analyzes the current champion of his division, Rafael Mendes.

Mario beating Theodoro Canal in Rio Open 2010 final. Photo: Gustavo Aragão.

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What are your plans for 2011?

My goal for 2011 is to do the whole IBJJF calendar and compete in other events, like the World Pro, for example. I feel it’s a good time in my career, I’ve had time to train and focus on competing. I want to explore all facets of Jiu-Jitsu and compete at all the big tournaments. I’m fortunate not to have any injuries, I’m prepared and I’m going to keep it up till the end of the year. Competition is what motivates me to further develop. I’ll probably be at the European Open competing at featherweight, the division where I feel best. I’m focused on the European Open and then I want to be at the Pan too.

Rafael Mendes is the current featherweight world champion. A lot of opponents criticize him for his style of fighting. What do you think of him?

I think he’s a really smart and, above all, strategic athlete. He knows what game he’s going to bring against each fighter. For each fighter, he changes his game and that intelligence of his got him to where he is. He’s very effective in competition, he’s a finisher but, above all, he’s strategic, and he is to be congratulated because he knows the right way to deal with each fighter.

You won two IBJJF Worlds’ as well as a number of other major titles. What motivates you to carry on competing?

What motivates me is extracting as much as possible from Jiu-Jitsu, like overcoming obstacles and controlling my emotions. I want to push all the limits and make it to the top. What keeps me going is seeing how I still perform well against the young guys who are at the top. I can make it to number 1 in the IBJJF, that motivates me, I want to keep getting better. This kids who are on fire now are a lot of incentive to me.

This year you had some exchanges and trained with the folks at Gracie Barra America. Do you intend to continue doing this kind of prep work?

The best place to train, seek new information, work on my technique and fix my mistakes is at Gracie Barra America with Master Carlos Gracie and Marcio Feitosa, not to mention all the top guys who train over there. I’m going to try and get closer to the master. That’s where I’ll be able to grow to make it to where I want to be.


To find out more about the European Jiu-Jitsu Open to take place January 27 to 30 in Lisbon, click here.

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