Nicholas Meregali on debuting at black belt with a world title

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Meregali fighting Leandro Lo for gold. Beatriz Lina

Once a standout at purple and then at brown, Nicholas Meregali landed in the black belt with just about the biggest bang. In his first year among the elite, he made it past some tough opposition in the extremely competitive heavyweight division to reach a World Championship final with none other than Leandro Lo.

As we know, this student under Mario Reis at Alliance managed to defeat the IBJJF’s No. 1 male fighter. Graciemag got hold of Meregali after the Worlds to touch on his campaign and more. Read on for the interview. How does it feel to win a world title in your debut as a black-belt?

NICHOLAS MEREGALI: It feels indescribable. This was a moment we always expected and worked to make happen.

How do you think you did throughout?

I found it acceptable. I’m a perfectionist, and I want my BJJ to develop and become invulnerable as soon as possible. Certainly I’m happy with what I produced, because I reached part of my objective, but I want more.

How did it feel to beat the favorite in the final?

Favorite is a matter of point of view. I never saw anyone as a favorite; I always believed in my work and knew that at any moment my time would come. I wasn’t surprised, but rather realized what my teammates and I already knew.

Did you tailor a strategy to Lo? What made the difference there?

I didn’t put any strategy together. I’m a guy who fights with heart and forward; Lo is a guy who preys on mistakes and doesn’t expose himself much. So my only attention went to my moves — I could not afford to make misguided exchanges.

What do you plan going forward, now as a world champion?

I haven’t made any plans. I believe I am in the right moment to work, so that is what I want most. I’m young, I’m a recent arrival at black belt, and I want to carve out my space. I’m anxious to focus and produce again at a high level.

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