Augusto “Tanquinho” Mendes has got his hands full. Next weekend the professor at Soul Fighters will be wading into the mix at weight and likely in the absolute too, at the 17th installment of the traditional US Open.
Sign-ups for the Claudio França-promoted tournament end at 11:59 PM California time this Monday, so you’d best hurry. A California-New York plane ticket will be raffled off to the competitors.
Raring to hit the mats at the US Open and next year’s Copa Pódio, Tanquinho spoke with GRACIEMAG.com about his recent return, his showdown with JT Torres in the final at the Boston Open, and much more.
GRACIEMAG: Since undergoing delicate surgery, you’ve kept a pretty good pace in competition. How do you feel?
AUGUSTO TANQUINHO: I’m so glad to be back! After going through what I did—delicate surgery on my back, physiotherapy and starting over all the way from scratch physically and technically—, I don’t feel the results were all that bad. I won the Las Vegas Open and the American Nationals and took silver at the Boston Open. I’m still not 100% but I’m training a lot. I’ve faced really good athletes, and that will help me get better.
How do you feel the final of the Boston Open, against JT, went?
It was a good match. I lost to him on advantages. I think I got tired towards the end, but still, I made a bunch of technical blunders that made the difference. I don’t have the timing right on the positions just yet, and that against an athlete of JT’s caliber is fatal. You can’t make mistakes. But I’m working hard in the academy, and at the American Nationals I felt some improvement.
What are your expectations for next weekend in San Jose at US Open 17?
I expect the very best. The US Open is one of the biggest Jiu-Jitsu events in the USA, behind only the Worlds and the Pan, in my view. It’s an impeccably organized event with excellent athletes. Anyone who hasn’t been yet, it’s worth the trip. I’m doing my preparations like I always do—I emphasize physical conditioning more, doing drills to get the timing for the positions down pat. I might show up in the absolute as well. It’ll be fun.
The organizers of Copa Pódio put together that couples matchup for the January event, with the men facing off before the girlfriends compete against each other. How do you see this match, where you compete alongside your girlfriend, Mackenzie, playing out?
Copa Pódio, through Jeferson Maycá, has a cool angle to it, where they appreciate Jiu-Jitsu stars, and they’ve been outdoing themselves with every event. We’ll be part of the first couples matchup in Jiu-Jitsu history, and that makes us really happy. Mackenzie is an extraordinary athlete. She’s extremely committed and is always looking to improve. That makes me grow as well. I feel the idea is great incentive for couples who practice Jiu-Jitsu and is even incentive for husbands and wives to start training together.
You’ll be facing Davi Ramos at Copa Pódio. What do you think that will be like?
It’ll be rough, right? Davi’s an excellent athlete and a great friend. We’ve faced each other twice before, and the score’s tied at 1-1. I’m certain it’ll be a great match and the crowd will dig it. It’s got all the makings of fight of the night.
The couples match involves squaring off and then cornering your girlfriend. What will the strategy and whatnot be?
There’s still time to go, and we’ve got other championships ahead of us, so we haven’t come up with a game plan yet. Usually I get pretty nervous watching Mackenzie compete… I think this time it’ll be even worse because she’ll have to pick up in her match with the score I leave for her. So I hope I don’t make her shoulder too much responsibility.