No. 1 featherweight Esdras Jr celebrates Pan title: “Surpassing my limits”

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Photo: Personal Archive

Esdras Jr is in the midst of a great phase on the competitive circuit of the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation (IBJJF). The black-belt from Ares has been going strong for four consecutive tournaments – he became champion at the IBJJF’s Dallas Open, Houston Open, New Orleans Atlanta Open and, most recently, at the No-Gi Pan, one of the most important competitions on the 2021 calendar.

His latest triumph, along with the points won in previous tourneys, caused Esdras to grab the top spot in the master 1 feather division with 135 points – nine more than the UFC fighter Rani Yahya.

In a recent interview, Esdras Jr spoke of what makes him a champion in 2021. “It’s hard to talk about just on aspect, but I think consistency is the key to reaching any goal. Maybe I’m not even training more in terms of volume, but without a doubt, I’m trying to train in a more intelligent way. Knowing how to understand your body and respect your limits is very important to comprehending when you have to do that training session where you’re fighting for real – most days! – or train by trying to understand and control the situations more. I’ve been going hard in my physical preparation since late last year, focusing a lot on injury prevention work. I’m feeling very well physically and mentally.”

To earn the gold medal at the No-Gi Pan, Esdras Jr had to defeat three tough opponents, including Silvio Duran (Nova União) in the semifinal round and Ermilio Lima (Fight Sports) in the final.

According to Esdras, he felt well and prepared for each match. “I was happy with my performance,” he said. “But I can say the toughest fight this time was cutting weight. The last time I weighed less than 67kg, I was in middle school! This Pan was the first time I hit feather in no-gi, which is well below feather in the gi. On the day of the competition, I woke up weighing 66kg – there I woke up feeling well and ready to fight. It was an incredible journey.”

Photo: Personal Archive

He went on to offer advice on winning any BJJ competition: “First, one should not worry about the result! Perhaps it seems like madness to say that, but when we think about results too much, the tendency is to demand a lot of ourselves, and I believe this demand brings about unnecessary tension. Step on the mat alert, but with tranquility. It’s about doing what you trained to do, match by match, trusting yourself and your jiu-jitsu. That’s all you should think about. Have patience to play – jiu-jitsu is like chess.”

And finally, on the subject of mindset, he said: “When you do what must be done, it works out! It’s a matter of training hard, dieting, physical preparation, technical and tactical training, knowing your strong points and developing a game plan. It’s impossible not to feel well and prepared. Step on the mat and believe that your plan is going to work. Work on your mind to be positive when things don’t come out as planned, because knowing how to control your mind is important. Believe until the end! I couldn’t go without mentioning also Fellipe Barros, my mental coach, who is always there when I need him.”

In the United States, Esdras trains beside Osvaldo Queixinho at Ares BJJ in Phoenix, Arizona.

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