Roger Gracie: “I think people beat themselves sometimes”

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GB was in full swing this week as preparations for the Worlds continued. The mats at the Headquarters in Irvine have been full for two weeks with visitors of all belt levels, gearing up for this high-powered tournament at the pyramid in Long Beach, CA.

Some of the usual suspects were found rolling on the mats at GB America, focused on their techniques, their game plans, and their mental states. Big names like Roger Gracie, Romulo Barral, Kayron Gracie, Roberto “Tussa” Alencar, Otavio Sousa, Samuel Braga, Fabiana Borges, Lucas Rocha, and Ronis Gracie were found training at varying times, perfecting their games, working on their strategies, and rolling with old friends. Master Carlos was there, overseeing it all, and Head Instructor Marcio Feitosa led the competition classes that occurred.

GB Teammates Roger Gracie, Roberto "Tussa" Alencar, and Otavio Sousa

Roger Gracie was in prime condition, looking like he hadn’t fought a professional MMA fight just a couple weeks prior. He was back to his old self, looking very confident, poised and natural in his gi. Gracie said he felt good and had no injuries. “We athletes are used to pain like muscle soreness and all that,” he said, “but I’m 100% and ready to go.”

Since Gracie arrived in Orange County, he says he’s had some good training at GB America. At the Worlds, Gracie will compete in both his division and absolute. “I feel comfortable in any position, top or bottom,” he says, “but my mind is the strongest part. I have a very strong mind and I think positively. I’m always very confident and I think that helps a lot.”

Gracie says to be a champion, you have to have a strong mind. Gracie does a lot to protect his mindset and to make sure that nothing distracts him from his mission. “I think people beat themselves sometimes,” he says, “They get themselves in an awkward position (during a competition), and they have a hard time overcoming the situation.”

Gracie says one way he keeps his mind intact is to not look at the brackets before his fights because he doesn’t want to worry about it. “If you look at the brackets, it takes you out of your mind,” he says, “The more you think about who you’re fighting, the more nervous you get. For me, I think a little, but I try to protect my mind and not think about it.” So, Gracie says he tries to keep his mind blank before his matches.

During his fights, Gracie says he just concentrates on the match. “I just react and let my training kick in,” he says, “I focus 100% on not making mistakes. I try very hard to not put myself in a difficult situation that’s harder for me to escape.”

Roger Gracie makes his cousin Kayron work hard during their sparring session

After coming off a very exciting 2010 Pan win, Kayron Gracie is back in action and ready to roll at the Worlds. “I’m always ready,” he says. He hasn’t slowed down in his training since the Pan, so he’s excited to see what this tournament holds for him. Gracie has trained every day and also taught all of his normal classes everyday as well. “Teaching helps me,” Gracie says, “I train with my students and I’ve also been taking the competition classes at GB America.”

Gracie says that although he is an “all-around fighter,” his greatest strength coming into the Worlds is his guard. “It’s strong,” he says. Gracie, in his usual humble fashion says there’s no one in particular who stands out at the Worlds. “Everybody’s tough,” he says, “All my fights are going to be hard.”

Roger Gracie and Roberto "Tussa" Alencar train at GB America

Roberto “Tussa” Alencar, in Southern California from GB New Mexico, has been training hard and says he’s feeling really good. Tussa is going to fight in his super heavy division, and he says his game plan this year is to try to play his top game, because it’s his greatest strength. “I’m really confident with my guard skills,” he says, “I prefer to fight on top, but I’m pretty good all-around.”

Tussa’s been training at GB America, rolling with friends like Roger Gracie, also in the super heavy division. “It’s great rolling with him,” Tussa says, “He gives me tips.” Tussa does the same for others. As he prepares for the Worlds, he helps other students refine their skills on the mats.

Tussa says he’s going to go to the Worlds and help coach other students who are competing. He’s very proud of his New Mexico team. “About 15 to 20 students came out to compete,” he says. “We have a really good team representing this year.”

Samuel Braga is looking forward to redeeming himself this year after a not so great experience last year. “I compete in every tournament because I enjoy competing regardless of the results,” he says. Braga says he works hard all year in order to obtain champion status.

This year, Braga says he’s coming to the Worlds to do his best. “I have a couple of aces up my sleeve,” he says, “Hopefully, I’ll get to show them at the tournament.” Braga trained for the Worlds with Professor Draculino, then at GB America, and also with his good friend, Romulo Barral at his school in Encino.

Braga says he’s sure all his fights are going to be tough, because everyone’s ready and has the same goals. “I’m excited because I’ve been out of the tournament scene for a year because of last year’s episode,” he says, “I cant wait to be on the mats again.”

Otavio Sousa spars with Philipe Della Monica

Otavio Sousa has been training hard everyday. “I’ve been taking the competition classes with all the professors,” he says, “And then I train again with my students because I’ve been teaching a lot, too.” Sousa says one of his greatest strengths coming into the Worlds is his explosiveness. “I’ve trained hard on my cardio,” he says, “I feel much better than in other years. I’m just going to try to do my best, to do everything right, and to not make mistakes. I want this title SO bad.”

Ronis Gracie has been doing his part training hard for the Worlds, too. The light purple belt says he’s in the best shape of his life. “I have a complete game,” he says, “I’m the same from the top to the bottom.” Gracie will compete in both his division and absolute. “I’m excited to see who’s going to be my toughest opponent,” he says. Gracie says he wants a chance to compete against Jordon Schultze from Alliance who recently won at the 2010 Pan and Thiago Gaia. “He won the Brazilian Nationals,” Gracie says.

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