Jake Mackenzie on the podium in Lisbon. Photo courtesy Jake Mackenzie.
Bruce Hoyer, a regular contributor to the FightWorks Podcast sends us this quick interview with Jacob Mackenzie, the lightweight gold medalist at the 2010 BJJ European Championships.
The FightWorks Podcast: For those people that may not know you yet give everyone a little background on you and how you got started.
Jake Mackenzie: I am 24 years old, I train at Fightsports South Beach in Miami, and I am a brown belt under Roberto “Cyborg” Abreu. I am originally from Truro, Nova Scotia, Canada. I began training jiu-jitsu there 9 and a half years ago, and I trained exclusively in Canada until I was 17 years old. At 17 I began spending 6 months at a time in Rio de Janeiro, so that I could improve my jiu-jitsu, and so I could compete almost every weekend. The last 3 years I have been living 6 months in Miami and 6 months in Rio to learn and compete as much as possible.
The FightWorks Podcast: You recently won the European Championships, talk a little bit about some of the matches that you had this time around.
Jake Mackenzie: It was my first time competing at the Euros, and I am really glad that i made the trip over to Lisboa to compete. I had 15 guys in my division (brown belt, lightweight). I was able to submit all of my opponents except for my opponent in my semi final match, he was a really tough competitor from Manaus, Brazil, and was a former world champion at purple, he was able to take me down at the start of the match, and was up to 2×0 for the first four minutes, I eventually swept him from my guard and I almost mounted and took his back. The fight ended 2×2 but I had 3 advantages points, so was able to secure the win. In the final, I was able to submit my opponent in 2-3 minutes with a choke from the back.
The FightWorks Podcast: Talk about your experience with traveling all over the US and the world frankly competing and training in BJJ.
Jake Mackenzie: I travel all year round, trying to compete as much as possible, I usually fight 16-20 tournaments a year. I love competing every chance I get. I really like traveling as well, so being able to compete internationally is something I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world.
The FightWorks Podcast: Where is your favorite place to compete?
Jake Mackenzie: I really like competing in California and in Miami, but I think Rio is my favorite place to compete, I fight almost every weekend when I stay there, and the majority of my tournament experience has been in Rio. There is something special about fighting in Rio, it is where everything started!
The FightWorks Podcast: Do you ever find that people from other gyms are not welcoming or is it pretty much open doors everywhere? Or in competition when you travel overseas do you feel an extra pressure?
Jake Mackenzie: I really like getting a chance to train with new people and learn as much as I can. Here in Florida, a lot of the best academies train together. I get the chance to train Cyborg, Pablo Popovitch, Boca, Denis Mitchell, Wagner Rocha, Paulo Azambuja and many other top level black belts, so I am learning every time I step on to the mat. I would highly recommend all these gyms and instructors, they are all extremely technical and have a very open and friendly atmosphere. I don’t feel any extra pressure competing overseas, I have more tournament experience in Brazil than anywhere else, and I began competing there while I was still a blue belt, so think i got used to fighting overseas at very young age.
The FightWorks Podcast: You recently moved from Canada to Florida to train and teach at Fight Sport, how has the transition been?
Jake Mackenzie: I started training here in Florida about 3 years ago, that’s when i officially started training with Roberto “Cyborg” Abreu. Cyborg and I were friends before he opened his academy in the US, so when he opened the gym, he invited me to come down to Miami and train with him and help him teach a little bit as well. Shortly after moving down to Miami, I decided to train and compete exclusively under Cyborg, it was one of best decisions I ever made. He is amazing instructor and coach, it is so easy to stay motivated and train hard all year round, because Roberto brings so much positive energy to the gym everyday, and he really cares about making his students better, every class he teaches.
The FightWorks Podcast: Do you feel like you are able to learn faster training with like Cyborg and Marcel?
Jake Mackenzie: Absolutely, I feel like my jiu-jitsu has improved drastically in the time I have spent training with Cyborg and Marcel. Here at Fightsports I train 2 times a day, 6 days a week, every class that Roberto teaches he pushes me to train 100 percent. Marcel, is amazing training partner, he is a great competitor, and whenever we train, I know it is going to be war, a lot of the times we train together we will roll for 40-60 minutes straight. I also couldn’t ask for a better master and group of guys to train with.
The FightWorks Podcast: Anyone you would like to thank?
Jake Mackenzie: I really want to thank my mom and dad first and foremost, they have always supported me 110 percent. I really want to thank Cyborg, and all my family from Fightsports. Also I want to thank Pablo Popovitch, Wagner Rocha, Boca, and all the guys from their academies that help me train all year round. I really want to thank my friend and training parter Denis Mitcell too, he helps me soo much, he always get me makes sure I am 100 percent mentally before I fight, him and Cyborg are always with me whenever I compete. I want to also thank all my sponors, Shoyoroll Kimonos (the best kimonos period!), Jiu Jitsu Pro Gear, Legacy Fit, Source Security, Murphies Resteraunt, Inglis Jewellers. Without all of their help and support it would be impossible for me to compete and travel year round. I can’t thank enough.