Rafa Mendes: “Nobody trains to be second”

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Current under-66kg champion of the ADCC Rafael Mendes was training with Sheikh Tahnoon in Abu Dhabi this year when he mentioned to ADCC organizer Guy Neivens that his brother wanted to compete in the tryouts. Neivens replied, “Fine, but if he qualifies, at ADCC 2011 you’ll face off right off the bat.”

That disappointed Guilherme but not Atos teammate Bruno Frazatto, who competed at and won the tryouts. When the brackets came out, the teammates saw that Neivens wasn’t bluffing. “It was a very distressing situation, but I thought we were going to be on the same side of the bracket, not doing the first match against each other. There was no way around it, we didn’t really talk and just competed.”

And it was a war, with Rafa attacking in the 50-50 guard and being attacked the whole time. In the end, a back mount won the match for Mendes by 3 to 0.

“It was like facing a brother, and you saw how it went. But at these moments we have to be professional and forge ahead. At least now we saw that this is really the way it has to go, we’ll always try and compete from now on, especially at the next Worlds,” said Rafa.

“Because nobody trains to be second place! So it’s not fair that one has to clear the way for the other, and besides that the crowd doesn’t like it and the media doesn’t like it, so when three, two close out, it diminishes the value of the conquest,” says the semifinalist, who had one of the most lauded finishes of the day, sinking an omoplata, spinning to the arm, and getting the choke from back mount in around a minute in his quarterfinal match with Justin Rader, his second and last match of the day. He will now face Robson Moura in the semifinals tomorrow. If he wins, he will face either Cobrinha or Jeff Glover.

“I imagined it would be Robson, looking at the brackets. He is indeed the guy with the biggest name at the other end of my bracket,” he said in praise. Rafa and Robson faced off in the gi at the 2010 World Pro, where Rafa won by a score of 6 to 4. Who takes it, Mendes or Moura?

Stay tuned to the GRACIEMAG at the ADCC Blog.

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