Tanquinho applies the choke to JT Torres at the 2012 No Gi World Championship which earned him the victory and a gold medal.
The FightWorks Podcast: Tanquinho, this is your first gold medal as a black belt at the IBJJF No-Gi World Championship. How does it feel? How does this compare to other accomplishments in your career?
Augusto “Tanquinho” Mendes: I have been trying for a while to get the World title at the black belt from IBJJF and the feeling of finally winning, especially after coming back from my neck surgery is incredible! I am really happy!! I think each title is important at the time that you win for many different reasons. This World title is not anymore or less important that my other titles throughout my career. But this title will be my memory of overcoming of everything that I have been through and being able to come back and compete at the high level!
The FightWorks Podcast: How did you prepare for the event? Was most of your preparation done in Arizona?
Augusto “Tanquinho” Mendes: All of my preparation for the Worlds No Gi was in Arizona at Megaton’s Academy! All of my training for the tournament I did with the gi. The last week before the tournament I trained No Gi to adapt positions for no gi. I did this because I stayed a really long time without training, because of my surgery, and I needed to recover the timing of positions and my reaction timing, and I can only do that with the gi. I also was focused on my physical preparation! I know that No Gi uses a lot of cardio so I wanted to make sure that I would not get tired!
The FightWorks Podcast: The match against JT Torres (Lloyd Irvin) in the finals generated controversy. JT was winning until the closing moments when you applied a choke that is essentially a triangle with no arm inside. In those final seconds you were awarded an advantage point that gave you the victory. Can you talk about that? There seems to be a difference between what some people think the rules are and what the three referees that day think the rules are.
Augusto “Tanquinho” Mendes: Yeah, unfortunately a lot of people are showing how they do not know or don’t completely understand the rules and are not very knowledgeable of positions. The choke I did is not a triangle, how I have seen a lot of people confusing it to be as. A triangle position with or without an arm inside is a blood choke, meaning it stops the blood from going to the brain. The choke I did, I learned it by the name as crab choke, is an air choke, so it blocks your esophagus. If you tried to do the crab choke but with your legs in a triangle position you would not get the position at all. I really don’t know what people are so confused about the rules. For every argument that I have heard, such as “JT was not warned before he was penalized”, or “he needed to defend the choke to get an advantage”, or even “the referees are corrupt and they have never made a bad call in favor of an American guy”, all have quick and easy answers. Plus, just for people to be thinking all of these things shows that they are not knowledgeable of the rules or the federation. I don’t want to address every argument to have to explain myself. I know the rules and I know how much I trained and fought my best to win and I am absolutely confident that I won.
The FightWorks Podcast: In 2010 and 2011 you almost won your division but in both of those years Lucas Lepri (Alliance) stopped you and you ended up with the silver medal. This year Lepri was not able to compete due to illness. Do you wish you had the opportunity to face him this time?
Augusto “Tanquinho” Mendes: Lucas was better then me in 2010 and 2011 without a doubt! I did not go to fight this year thinking about just fighting him. I just trained and prepared myself to fight against who ever would be in the division, and I knew there would just be tough guys! I knew that there was a chance I could win or lose to Lucas just like there was a chance against JT and Leandro or anyone else in the lightweight division but I was confident in my game and preparation!
The FightWorks Podcast: There are some competitors who perform very well in the gi but sometimes their game is not as strong without the gi. Which do you think is stronger for you, gi or no gi?
Augusto “Tanquinho” Mendes: I don’t think that I am stronger in one or the other! I am really good at adapting my game to gi or no gi! There are a lot of things in my game that are easier to do with the gi, but then on the other hand, there are a lot of different things that I have adapted to my game that work better with no gi. But I have to say that I like with the gi a little more than no gi!
The FightWorks Podcast: Can we expect to see you in action again on December 8th at the Long Beach Fall International Open Jiu-Jitsu Championship, fighting for a chance to compete for $5,000 in the first ever IBJJF Pro League later that evening?
Augusto “Tanquinho” Mendes: Yes! For sure! I am first waiting for the chance to maybe be qualified already in the Pro League because I am number 8 in the ranking, so if anyone before me can’t make it my spot will be moved up! But if all of the first six will be there, I will be at the Fall Open to try and get a spot to compete for the $5,000! I am really happy about this event and I think it will have a really good turn out! I will just train hard to be as prepared as possible because every fight will be a tough one!