Grand Slam champion in Russia, Pablo says maturity allowed him to win: “I lost my fear of making mistakes”

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Pablo beat Saggioro 5-3 to become the champion in the Professional black belt lightweight division. Photo: Personal archive

After succeeding in structuring his personal life in Abu Dhabi, in the UAE, Pablo Mantovani resumed doing what he has always done well: competing. A teacher and athlete full-time, Pablo proved, in practice, that he is sharper than ever as he won the Grand Slam in Moscow, Russia.

In the tournament held by the Abu Dhabi Jiu-Jitsu Pro Tour (AJP), Pablo conquered the 69kg division when he defeated Leonardo Saggioro (BTT) in the final, scoring 5 points to Saggioro’s 3, with a guard pass and a back-take. Pablo’s path was not easy: he also had to eliminate Abubakar Khadaev and win a tough battle against Raul Basílio in the semifinal, where the score was 4-4.

In a recent interview, Pablo analyzed his fight with Saggioro, one of the biggest names in the division.

“I’ve been following him for a while,” said Pablo. “He’s done a World Championship final with Rubens Cobrinha, he’s done several tough fights with Rafael Mendes, and because of that, I knew I couldn’t afford to make mistakes. I left my comfort zone, and since I’m a guard player, I decided to take on his guard and try to pass. He has a good guard pass; that was when I decided to move away from his strong game. In the fight, he pulled; I accelerated to pass and take the back. Later, I ended up losing the back adjustments, and he put pressure to try to pass, but I managed to contain his impetus.”

Victory against great athletes, a Grand Slam title and lots of confidence once again. But how did Pablo keep his mind strong even after going a fair bit of time without competing? He explained:

“I believe that now, at 26, I’ve reached the maturity of an adult. What do I mean by that maturity? I mean not feeling pressure. Many times, I lost tournaments due to feeling pressured to win or because my opponent was tough. This time was different; I ignored that factor. I simply went there to have fun. I didn’t put pressure on myself before fighting; I was just a lot more focused this time. I fought moving forward because I wanted to win. Maturity was a determining factor in my victory.

“I read a few times that other athletes became world champions when they lost the fear of making mistakes. I just did what had to be done: I believed in my game and my potential. It made a big difference. I was ready to become champion — that’s my mindset. It’s to fight moving forward, whether on top or on the bottom, without the fear of making mistakes.”

It’s worth noting that when Pablo isn’t teaching at Baniyas Sport Club, he’s training with the Abu Dhabi national team, led by Ramon Lemos, which brings together some BJJ fighters that reside in the UAE. All the methodology that was being used at Atos Jiu-Jitsu gets applied to the team.

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