#179: The Gracies Movie, Saulo Ribeiro and Robert Drysdale (Rebroadcast)

gracie jiu-jitsu
A photo of the Gracies circa 1962 from the family archive, donated by Angela Gracie to the film.

After a few weeks away, the FightWorks Podcast returns like a keg of dynamite! We come to you with three interviews that will each hit you like a flying armbar from the Incredible Hulk!

First off we speak with Robert Drysdale! Because he won the absolute division of the 2007 ADCC Championship by beating Marcelo Garcia, Drysdale was scheduled to take on Roger Gracie later this month in the 2009 ADCC superfight. However last week it was announced that Roger was injured and unable to compete! So we called Drysdale on Wednesday and got his thoughts on losing his opponent. That interview starts our show.

Next we continue the ADCC theme by presenting you Saulo Ribeiro, who, along with his brother, Xande Ribeiro, leads the UNIJJ. Between the two Ribeiro brothers, there are several ADCC gold medals and Saulo will update us on how the UNIJJ prepares its commando squad of elite grapplers (Saulo, Xande, Rani Yahya, Kron Gracie, Rafael Lovato Jr., Justin Rader…) for something like the biannual ADCCs that will take place in Barcelona this month.

Our feature interview this week is one I have had scheduled for some time and am really excited to present: a conversation with Victor Cesar Bota, the director of the soon-to-be-released movie The Gracies. Bota is a childhood friend of Renzo Gracie and he has put together a documentary that focuses on the history of the Gracie family. While the Gracie family is deservedly famous in our community for developing our addiction called jiu-jitsu, it is not free of the disagreements all of our families share. Appropriately, the Gracie movie’s focus is not jiu-jitsu but the family which developed jiu-jitsu. BJJ historians, in the famous words of our good friend Breno Sivak: prepare yourselves! You can learn more about the film on Facebook, YouTube, and its official website.

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The FightWorks Podcast: Hi family, we are here with a really interesting interview this time. I’m really excited to speak with Victor Cesar Bota. How are you Victor?

Victor Cesar Bota: I’m doing good.

The FightWorks Podcast: Victor, we brought you on the show today to talk about a project you’ve been involved with for some time. I know all of our listeners are going to be really excited, because as I’ve said before, the thing we care most about in the world is Brazilian jiu jitsu. You are in the final stages of putting together a film about what we love most. Introduce yourself and talk a little about your movie.

Victor Cesar Bota: My name is Victor Bota. I’ve been working on a documentary about the Gracie family for the last five or six years. I lived right next to Renzo for five years, in my childhood, when I lived in Rio. When I came to New York, I met him up here and we decided to make a film about the family.

We’ve interviewed about 17 members of the family, and we are now pretty much in the final month of post-production.

The FightWorks Podcast: This is the sort of thing everybody listening right now dreams about. We all go to train three times a week on average, maybe five times or more if we’re really crazy. When we’re not on the mats, we think about jiu jitsu, so having a movie about it seems really cool.

Tell us a bit about the film itself: most stories have protagonists, so who are the protagonists of your stories about the Gracies?

Victor Cesar Bota: We decided to make the film more dedicated to the family and the family problems: the rise and fall of the family. We’ve seen the fights and the tournaments, they’ve been available to everybody, but nobody has actually told the story of the family. So, the film is about that.

We start the film with Carlos and Helio, then we talk about the most important members of each decade. That would be Carlson, Rolls, Rorion, Rickson and Renzo.

The FightWorks Podcast: So it’s more of a historical documentary of the family, and then I guess jiu jitsu is kind of the side story?

Victor Cesar Bota: I’d say it is more like a family saga, a Brazilian family story. The jiu jitsu is what made them rise, so we explain how the family rose, and which members of the family created differences in jiu jitsu to make it better.

So, we explain why did Helio create a better defence, and why did Rolls create a better offence, and why was Carlson the strongest one. We try to explain why did this happen, in the context of the family issues.

The FightWorks Podcast: It sounds like, based on what you’re saying, the basis of the jiu jitsu is the drama within the family. This isn’t always a comfortable topic within the jiu jitsu community: it is talked about, but it’s not an easy conversation. So, was this hard to do?

Victor Cesar Bota: Yes [laughs], that was very hard to do. A lot of them obviously don’t want to talk about it. We realised we needed to put the story out, and tell the truth about the story. There is a lot of times people speculated, that “this happened because of this,” or that, and it ends up not being the truth about it.

The FightWorks Podcast: Can you give any examples of the sort of thing you are talking about, that would be found in the movie?

Victor Cesar Bota: There are so many of them, but I don’t want to spoil it [laughs]. You can ask me about almost any family member, and I can tell you something that pushed them to change in such a way that it also changed jiu jitsu.

For example, Carlson. He didn’t want to train in a very relaxed style, so instead became more of a finisher, quicker and stronger, as opposed to patient, waiting for the guy to commit a mistake, like Helio. So, he was the first guy to go for the attack, rather than waiting for his opponent to commit a mistake.

The FightWorks Podcast: For us here on our the show, the Fightworks Podcast, we have to be very careful how we talk about – or even approach – certain topics. We want access to certain personalities in the future, so we don’t want to burn any bridges [laughs].

Victor Cesar Bota: We interviewed Carlson, we interviewed all of them, and none of them actually said something different. They all disagree on some topics, but for all of them, its still pretty much the same story, even in terms of the stuff they disagreed on.

There were some members of the family that did not want to be interviewed, because they had had enough of the family problems. There are a lot of reasons that Brazilian jiu jitsu became what it is, due to what the family was going through.

The FightWorks Podcast: I think – and correct me if I’m wrong on this – that if there was one, unified family, with a single direction, there would be much less room for competition within the family, via jiu jitsu. Jiu jitsu would therefore not have progressed as much. Is that what you are saying?

Victor Cesar Bota: Yes, I would definitely say that. They had to end up competing against each other, because it got to a point that they were winning everything. So, they were always fighting about who would take the trophy home.They ended up having so many academies, separating and competing against each other. That made jiu jitsu grow.

Having personal problems within the family, between brothers and cousins, and the desire of one to be better than the other, led them to train outside the family. That created more offensive jiu jitsu.

The FightWorks Podcast: One of the places where people have been exposed to the sort of thing you’re talking about recently was a book called Carlos Gracie: The Creator of a Dynasty, by Reyla Gracie. That is still, as far as I know, only available in Portuguese. I know there are more than a couple of members of the family who are not happy with the way that turned out.

Victor Cesar Bota: I myself have not read the book, and I have not interviewed Reyla, because we disagreed on a couple of issues. When I had a meeting about making the film, and interviewing her, she was only interested in telling the glories of the family rather than the problems they had.

The FightWorks Podcast: That’s interesting, because some people had problems with her book, as it did not show some members of the family in the most positive light.

Victor Cesar Bota: I can see that. I know her, so I know that she probably didn’t paint a good picture of the Helio side, but I think it goes beyond that. I think there was another side of the family, that was street fighting, that pushed the family to actually defend themselves, creating a better way to defend themselves. I know that wasn’t touched on in the book either.

People are complaining that there is more stuff that was left out of her book. That was the reason she refused to even give me an interview. She said that if I was going to tell the story, the real story about everybody, show some of the clips I wanted to show, some of the subjects that I wanted to touch, that she would not get involved with it. She didn’t want to paint that kind of picture of the family.

I didn’t understand why she was writing a biography if she was only going to tell the story from her perspective, not the whole story.

The FightWorks Podcast: I’ve read her book, so I know a little bit of what happened, but it sounds like you’re saying that your movie goes even farther into the good, the bad and the ugly. All families have that sort of thing, but if your movie describes that even more, I’m guessing everybody listening right now is very intrigued! [laughs]

Give us a little more about the demographics of the film itself, like how long is it?

Victor Cesar Bota: Right now, the film is ninety-one minutes, separated into chapters. The chapters are split by members of the family, and each member of the family develops a new step for jiu jitsu. All the way from Carlos, the film is structured like a little ladder, that goes all the way up to 1997. That’s where the whole thing blows up, with PRIDE and the UFC.

The film starts around 1914, and we finish the film, the last bit we think about is 1997.

The FightWorks Podcast: Ah, ok, so the actual last part of the story is in the late ’90s?

Victor Cesar Bota: Late ’90s, yeah.

The FightWorks Podcast: So it sounds like a significant portion of the movie is going to contain old footage, like the black and white stuff, right?

Victor Cesar Bota: There is some of that stuff. It is very much an interview driven film: I let the family tell the story. I pretty much created a storyline with the questions, then I went to them and said “I want you guys to tell the story of your family.” I sat down and interviewed each one of them for around three hours. We talked about the same story, and pieced together the interviews, so its all part of that same story.

The FightWorks Podcast: You don’t train jiu jitsu, right?

Victor Cesar Bota: I do not train jiu jitsu. I used to surf with Renzo.

The FightWorks Podcast: [laughs] I guess it had to be one or the other, if not both.

Victor Cesar Bota: [laughs] I did some jiu jitsu, because I felt during the film, I can’t do a film about something I’ve never done. I went to Renzo and we did a bunch of private classes. I wanted to understand what jiu jitsu was, and what the feeling of being on the mat was like.

I really understood how effective it is. I have trained karate and taekwondo when I was a kid, and after three classes of jiu jitsu, I thought “man, the other stuff is like, Mickey Mouse stuff.” So, I was very impressed with what I learned.

I’m not a jiu jitsu guy, but I should be, because I love it. [laughs]

The FightWorks Podcast: We agree! [laughs]

Victor Cesar Bota: Renzo always asks me, when am I going to show up at the academy to train!

The FightWorks Podcast: Do you think that made it easier for you, as if you’d been a long-standing member of the community, it would be tougher?

Victor Cesar Bota: I think if I was a longstanding member of the community, I would be pulled to one side, so I would be less impartial. I think by being away from the family, it gave me a whole different perspective. I wanted to tell the story for people that didn’t know the family.

The FightWorks Podcast: That’s a good question: I know how our community is going to react to it, but I’m sure this is going to appeal to more than just the BJJ community, right?

Victor Cesar Bota: My idea wasn’t to make a film for the jiu jitsu community, actually. My idea was to show the story and introduce jiu jitsu to people who don’t know the family. So, I think it was crucial for me to keep myself away from training and that sort of thing. That way I could give the perspective of somebody who was never that close to the family, never spent that much time on the mats.

The FightWorks Podcast: Almost like an archaeologist, separated from the topic?

Victor Cesar Bota: Yeah, sort of like that, I guess.

The FightWorks Podcast: A lot of the audio has to presumably be in Portuguese, so how does that work?

Victor Cesar Bota: The audio, I would say, is about 70% English, actually. People like Renzo, Rodrigo spoke English in our interviews, and the one’s that couldn’t we did in Portuguese with English subtitles. The voiceover is in English.

The film is pretty much driven by Robson, Renzo and Rodrigo: they are the three that give the most interviews. After them, I would say it’s Carlson and Helio, they are the two with the second most interviews. We also talk a lot about Rolls, as I think he was one who really made a major change in the family.

The FightWorks Podcast: Tell our listeners a little more about him, as sadly that’s a character who sadly disappeared from all of us a long time ago. Tell people who Rolls is.

Victor Cesar Bota: Rolls is the son of Carlos that was raised by Helio. By that time, Helio couldn’t have kids, and Carlos had about ten kids already. So, Carlos gave his son Rolls to Helio to raise as his own kid. So Rolls kind of had two fathers: he was training and lived in both houses. He was the guy that looked for training outside of the family. He’s the guy that went to SAMBO, wrestling, karate. He wanted to make jiu jitsu more of an aggressive system. Before him, jiu jitsu was very defensive, everybody was in the guard, everybody was waiting. So he was the guy that said “I want to finish this guy as soon as possible, I want to get it going.”

So I think from Rolls onwards, the whole attitude of jiu jitsu changed. That’s what we have today. The MMA mentality that we have today was born after Rolls.

The FightWorks Podcast: From some of the interviews we’ve had here on the Fightworks Podcast, to the last man, everybody who knew Rolls or trained under Rolls, talked about his influence on the sport (or martial art). They also talked about the moment of his death, in the hang-gliding accident. That was a moment when the jiu jitsu community – which as we’ve talked about already had it’s own natural conflicts – that’s a moment when two camps really began to diverge, right?

Victor Cesar Bota: No, the first two camps to diverge was actually Carlson. That was much earlier than that, I think in the 1960s, when Brazil was under the dictatorship. So, it would have to be around ’64, ’65. That was the first Gracie to open a jiu jitsu gym that was not associated with Carlos and Helio. Rolls used to share the academy with Carlson: Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays was for one, and Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays was for the other one. That I think was back in the ’70s.

The FightWorks Podcast: Right. You can correct me – and feel free to – but my understanding is that upon his death, because as you said he was kind of between the two worlds of Carlos and Helio, perfectly in the middle of the two and comfortable in both, but when he died, that tie between the two wasn’t present any more.

Victor Cesar Bota: I think several things happened when he died. First, the big days of the lawyers in Brazil was the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s, when the government moved to Brasilia in the ’60s, all the politicians that were doing jiu jitsu – and the president’s son was doing jiu jitsu – they all moved to Brasilia. So, the Gracies started to drop out of the media. That’s why from the 1960s almost up until the UFC the family was in the shadows a little bit.

Another thing is that the economy of Brazil was not doing that well, so they didn’t have that many tournaments and competitions, there wasn’t any kind of federation. It was pretty much just training jiu jitsu and keeping the family together. Rolls, by being the son of Carlos and raised by Helio, was defending both sides. When he passed away, everybody wanted to get a piece of the pie.

The FightWorks Podcast: Well, I know this is going to be explored further in the movie, so we don’t want to talk about it too much, but I understand just recently you found out some wonderful news about the exposure your film was going to have. Tell people about that.

Victor Cesar Bota: Yes, the film just got invited to the Rio de Janeiro Film Festival. We should be premiering the film by October 1st down there.

The FightWorks Podcast: Give a little perspective on what that means for the film.

Victor Cesar Bota: The film doesn’t have a distributor yet, so we’re on the festival circuit to try and find the best distributor possible. We want to put it on the theatre circuit, especially in America, in various cities, so people are able to go and see it. What we’re going to do is go to some festivals and try to shop around, then get a distributor that will help us put it on in theatres.

The FightWorks Podcast: So this festival, for those who aren’t aware, is the equivalent of the Cannes Film Festival, except the Latin American version?

Victor Cesar Bota: Yes, it is considered the biggest South American film festival. It happens to be the birthplace of the whole movement. So I think it is very appropriate to release the film where the movement started.

The FightWorks Podcast: That’s exciting. So, the question that everybody has is, when can we see it? I know you alluded to it in your last answer, that you’re working on ways to get it out there, but for person listening, when can we expect this to be out, so we can get things ready?

Victor Cesar Bota: We are shooting to get this out for mass production no later than the end of this year. Hopefully by Christmas, we’ll have it in the theatres and on DVD.

The FightWorks Podcast: Cool, very cool. In the meantime Victor, I know you have a couple of websites – well, one main website – and a couple of clips on YouTube, so can you tell people where to go, to see those?

Victor Cesar Bota: Yes. It’s TheGracies.com – that is the website we have, it’s almost completely finished, but not quite there yet – and on YouTube, it is also “The Gracies”. Put in “The Gracies” and you’ll get a couple of clips. Soon we’re going to put the trailer for the film up, which we’re working on, so we’ll have some new clips. Should be in the next couple of weeks.

The FightWorks Podcast: Awesome. So Victor, is there anything else people should know, about what sounds like a really interesting movie, before I let you go?

Victor Cesar Bota: I think they’ll like it. I think they’re not going to expect what they’re going to see. I brought in fifteen Gracies once, to watch the film, and Luca Atalla from Gracie Magazine, and all of them were quite surprised at the project.

The FightWorks Podcast: That’s a group that I would expect to have a pretty good sense of what they are about to see.

Victor Cesar Bota: Exactly. I made sure to show it to them, and it was quite something. All of them came to me and said, “yes, that looks good.” Some parts tell the truth the hard way, but that’s how it is.

The FightWorks Podcast: Especially if you had fifteen of them in a room, together, and you don’t know any jiu jitsu… [laughs]

Victor Cesar Bota: By that time I knew them very well. [laughs] Almost better not to know, because if you knew jiu jitsu, then they could try to do something. If you don’t know anything, they’re like “well, this is nothing.” [laughs]

The FightWorks Podcast: Victor, thank you very much for jumping on the phone with us. I know you have a lot of work to do before the film festival, so we appreciate you giving us some of your time. Please keep us informed, because like I said, our audience is very interested in this.

Victor Cesar Bota: Yeah, we have a page on Facebook, called ‘Gracie Jiu Jitsu,’ and I pretty much put all the updates about the film over there. Screening dates, everything, is going to be over there, on ‘Gracie Jiu Jitsu’.

The FightWorks Podcast: Well, good luck, and boa sorte at the film festival, and we look forward to not only hearing from you, but checking out the movie ourselves. Thank you Victor.

Victor Cesar Bota: Thank you very much.

The FightWorks Podcast: OK folks, we are here on the line with Robert Drysdale, who is scheduled to participate in the superfight this year at Abu Dhabi 2009, in Barcelona. Robert, how are you?

Robert Drysdale: I’m doing great, how are you guys doing?

The FightWorks Podcast: Doing good. Some big news came down the pipe this week about the superfight. Tell folks what happened, and then we’ll talk about the repercussions of this.

Robert Drysdale: I know what everyone else knows, man, no-one really contacted me. I heard some rumours yesterday, that something was going on in forums. I didn’t believe it, as forums are pretty much gossip. I was trying not to think about. This morning, they confirmed it – I think it was Gracie Mag. So, yeah man, it sucks.

But I’m sure it’s a real injury, he isn’t faking it or anything like that. Shit happens. It’s not one of those things you’re expecting. Personally, I really wanted to fight the guy: I thought I had a great shot at beating him, nogi.

Now it’s just going to be me waiting for Abu Dhabi to come up with a replacement: I have no idea who that guy is going to be.

The FightWorks Podcast: So now that like you said, Roger Gracie is not going to be competing, it sounds like you’re saying they are just going to look for a replacement, rather than putting you in the normal weight classes? You have no idea at all, as you haven’t heard from the guys?

Robert Drysdale: No, I don’t, but they need a superfight. This is not the first time this has happened: it happened in 2005, when Arona couldn’t fight, remember? Then in 2007, Lister couldn’t fight. I would be surprised if they cancelled the superfight, because they need a superfight. Whoever wins the open this year will fight the superfight in 2011.

So I think they will come up a superfight, it is just a matter of who. Unless they want to cancel the superfights permanently. I’ll be very disappointed, and very angry if they do, because I’ve been preparing for a long time. But I don’t think that is what they are going to do.

The FightWorks Podcast: Well, let me put you in the hot seat: I know you were really looking forward to competing with Roger, because of the times you’ve competed against him in the past. So, is there anybody you would want to compete against in the superfight, or are you just going to let them decide?

Robert Drysdale: I heard a while ago that Fedor was going to compete. I would love to fight Fedor, I think that would be a great fight for me. That would do a lot more for my career than fighting Roger, to be honest.

I don’t know if he is still up, I think he is fighting in October for Strikeforce or whatever, but if he is going to be competing, I would love to have Fedor in the superfight.

The FightWorks Podcast: Ok: well, we know this has been a big shock for you and the community, but we appreciate you jumping on so quickly for us.

Robert Drysdale: My pleasure man, any time.

The FightWorks Podcast: Alright, we have made another trip to the University of Jiu Jitsu here in San Diego. We’re sitting down with one of the hearts of the university, Saulo Ribeiro. Saulo, how are you doing?

Saulo Ribeiro: Awesome: we just finished a morning session here prior to the Abu Dhabi competition. Now it’s time to eat, rest a little bit, and come back for strength conditioning with Steven Maxwell.

The FightWorks Podcast: Yeah, so as you mentioned, the university is headed to Spain.

Saulo Ribeiro: Yeah, we gonna go there, we gonna get ready, and train hard. We’re trying to focus on the training, focus on the body that we have here. Among us, we have four Abu Dhabi titles, and I think we have a strong team here that will be leaving for Abu Dhabi.

The FightWorks Podcast: Let’s talk about some of the names, because people like to know who is training with who. So before we get into the prior Abu Dhabi titles you have, who has been congregating here at the University to help prepare, and who is going?

Saulo Ribeiro: What is well known here in San Diego at the university is our black belt training. Tuesday and Thursday at noon, we have 12 black belts on average training here.

They are the guys that have academies round San Diego, and follow the University, and come here. So, we are training every Tuesday and Thursday. That’s the guys that are helping out the training.

We have sparring all divisions and all kinds of ways. We are really set for this Abu Dhabi. I remember when it was just me and my brother wrestling for an hour in Toledo, but now I think we really come out here with a really good group of people.

The FightWorks Podcast: So tell us some of the names that are actually going with you guys to Barcelona?

Saulo Ribeiro: In the 65kg division, we have Rani, and now Rafael’s student Raider. In the 76kg, Kron Gracie, who has been training with us. In the 88kg, Rafael Lovato – we have sparred with him a lot here. We have Pesado, we have Kado, we have Jake, we have Johnny, all the guys helping him. At 98kg, the champ of the division, Xande. He has been focusing on Abu Dhabi, making his continued progress in MMA, but now he is really focusing on grappling aspects, getting the title he still doesn’t have, the open.

I myself will be in the heavyweight, because I have competed in all three divisions, and I wanna add one more for my curriculum. I think it gonna be great, I really gonna go there and prove the effectiveness of the jiu jitsu, especially fighting with big guys.

The FightWorks Podcast: Let’s talk about some of the differences in the way that you guys prepare for something like this, as opposed to maybe the Mundials in the gi. Maybe there are no differences, you tell us?

Saulo Ribeiro: Yeah, there are plenty of differences, as Abu Dhabi is a unique tournament with unique rules. We really have to prioritise conditioning, because it is a very physical tournament. The technique is necessary, but you really need to be in shape, your mind has to be ready for the overtime, you can not let your body go down, you gotta keep your mind strong. So we especially do a lot of specific training with the positions that are very common to happen in Abu Dhabi – single legs, taking the back, half guard. There are certain positions that sooner or later you gonna see yourself coming in Abu Dhabi, and you have to really excel in those positions.

We cannot forget that whoever score 4 points first really takes the lead in the fight, and is gonna take the course of the fight. So, that’s one of our goals, take the lead score and then go for the submission.

The FightWorks Podcast: Yeah, you mentioned some of the differences in rules. Some of our listeners may know that slams are legal, totally legal in Abu Dhabi. Like you said, there is a period in every match where they are no points.

Saulo Ribeiro: Exactly. That was the idea of Sheik Tahnoon, when he designed the tournament, the rules, but I think that the idea has gone a little bit in other direction. Instead of people going after each other, they kinda prepare for the five minutes that you have points, so aren’t so aggressive. Then you see the pace of the fight changes.

Soon as points count, faster, more intensive: the first five minutes they play conservatively. In our case, we are always gonna push the fight since the beginning, because I think that our jiu jitsu is better. We are in great shape, and we can keep the pace for ten minutes. For sure, we are going to avoid overtimes: the more overtimes you go, the harder it is on your body.

Don’t forget, I have fought many overtimes, and that is one of the things I try to avoid. Try to make the effort, get the score, so not into overtime. The less overtime you do, I think you gonna be ahead for the open, for the final or the open. You’re gonna be fresher for the final. So it is important you don’t have too many overtimes

The FightWorks Podcast: I’d like to talk about something topical, that’s been in the jiu jitsu media a lot recently, and get your opinion here at the University of JJ as well as maybe how it applies to the Abu Dhabi, because there has been all this talk of the 50/50 guard.

Saulo Ribeiro: I think the kids, they’re inspired, trying to do something new. We cannot frustrate the creativity of something that is coming new, especially criticise something that we still don’t know what it is. In my opinion, everything I have done for Abu Dhabi is a very dangerous position, because you have a lot of heel hooks, a lot of things that are not allowed in jiu jitsu, but in Abu Dhabi, it is totally allowed. So, I would never try to go into that kind of technique.

But I think jiu jitsu people are getting confused in that position, and there is a certain tendency to stall. It depends what kind of goal we have and how to achieve that. I think that if people are going to that position, we have to come up and try to see the beginning of the problem, where they start the position, where they go, instead of coming up with miracle solutions to try to escape.

The FightWorks Podcast: Or new rules.

Saulo Ribeiro: Or rules. I think that any time something new comes along, that is the beauty of jiu jitsu. We are always able to apply different kinds of leverage. You cannot deny that in the 50/50, there is leverage involved, a lot of balance. So why not study that, try to understand what is happening. I think that is the best way. I don’t think it works for Abu Dhabi or MMA. because it’s a very dangerous position, you could lose your feet, your heel. Don’t’ forget, Abu Dhabi is MMA without punching, all goes, everything is allowed. So, that is kinda of what we concentrate on.

Of course, if it happens, if a guy is not able to defend himself, it is a good way to transition. You can try to go for the back, try to go for some sweep. I include myself, fighting big guys.

The FightWorks Podcast: I’d like to close talking about your training and preparation. I just learned when I got here that you suffered an injury pretty recently in your preparation, going crazy, training really head. Tell people a little bit about your foot.

Saulo Ribeiro: Yeah, I’m here at the University. If you are a good mechanic, it doesn’t mean you are going to own a mechanic shop and it is gonna to be successful. I’m trying to do both, and sometimes its really hard to keep your focus, to keep yourself ready mentally for battle, when you’re under the desk.

When I put myself in training, I put in 100%. I got caught in closed guard and split my fingers. I get 14 stitches, but I was blessed..

The FightWorks Podcast: Your toes?

Saulo Ribeiro: Yeah, my toes. I was blessed to have good surgery out there, I healed in less than 20 days. Thank god I gonna be able to compete in Nationals, I gonna fight heavy, heavy weight, because I want to feel how it is with big guys. There is no better lab than going to a jiu jitsu tournament and having fun. I think the Nationals is really gonna prepare me for what’s coming with the big guys in Abu Dhabi

The FightWorks Podcast: Thank you very much Saulo.

Saulo Ribeiro: I appreciate that, and I’m looking forward to the Nationals this weekend, before Abu Dhabi. The University is coming to the Nationals with 104 competitors. I think that we have the biggest size team. I think that once everybody goes, white belts, everybody comes to get points, so I think that whoever wants the tournament is really gonna be champ of it all.

We are very happy, we have the comeback of Rani in the gi, I myself am competing, we have lots of black belts. So I think we’re gonna have a lot of fun, and the people that go there, they’re gonna watch a great match.

The FightWorks Podcast: With that volume of competitors, it sounds like you guys could pose a threat to BJJ revolution, and Rodrigo Medeiros, whose big team from San Diego tends to take away the title at this one.

Saulo Ribeiro: Yeah, from the marketing aspect, I think we go there to make a statement, you know. I have to take my hat off to Rodrigo, he has been doing a great job here in San Diego for the last twelve years. He is a guy that vote for his student, he has the mentality, the Carlson Gracie mentality, and he is a good leader.

We are just coming with another team to be in a gentle war. I think that we are both going to go there and learn from each others’ mistakes. Every part of our team, the white belts, the seniors, the masters…I think that’s going to be good for both of us, to be in the lab, and really to motivate our students for the next time. I think that in the end, the winner is not going to be BJJ Revolution or University of JJ. I think it’s going to be jiu jitsu.

We’re going to put on a great show, I think that whoever goes there is going to see big teams involved, because that is what is missing. We are missing the beauty of the big teams in Brazil. So, it’s time to bring that to America, and provide a show to everybody. It’s time to unite everybody, let’s go as a team, let’s fight as one. There is only one winner, jiu jitsu.

The FightWorks Podcast: Good luck Saulo, and thank you very much.

Saulo Ribeiro: Thanks, I appreciate it Caleb. Listen to the podcast, that’s where we keep the updates and information, the great news, and for lovers of jiu jitsu, we are here, for you guys, and for the world. Thank you very much.

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