Gabriel Vella (blue) defends an attack from Bruno Paulista at the 2008 Mundials.
Gabriel Vella‘s name is not likely to bring warm and fuzzy thoughts to his opponents in the ultra heavyweight division. Like most Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt competitors, Vella is smiling and relaxed off the mats, but once the referee signals “combate!“, the easygoing character becomes one of the most formidable challenges in the world of BJJ. This image of Flavio Almeida after his 2008 encounter with Vella sums up the the difficulties of going against this perennial pesadissimo medalist.
On Tuesday GracieMag.com reported that Gabriel Vella had left Alliance, the jiu-jitsu competition team that – with his help – won the 2009 World Championship team title for male competitors. We contacted Fabio Gurgel, the leader of Alliance Jiu-Jitsu in Brazil, to get a little more information about the departure of this very valuable team mate, who will now likely return to his roots and compete again under the Gracie Barra flag.
The FightWorks Podcast: Hello Fabio. What can you tell us about Gabriel Vella leaving Alliance? Vella has been a reliable medalist for Alliance in the black belt pessadissimo division for some time. How does this affect Alliance’s strategy in major competitions? Does Alliance have another black belt ready in that weight division?
Fabio Gurgel: About Vella, unfortunately he decided to move away, there was nothing that I could do to change his mind, it was a big loss for the team as a great competitor that he is, but in other hand it create a spot for news talents thats coming up, of course Alliance will have someone to take his place, not forgetting that we already have Leonardo Leite in pesadissimo.
The FightWorks Podcast: You recently reflected on what your 20 years as a black belt have been like on your website. What do you see happening in the next 20 years for Alliance?
Fabio Gurgel: 20 years of black belt, it has been a long journey so far, however it is still far away to the point that i see Alliance in the future, next 20 years? I hope I’m still here doing what I love to do.
The FightWorks Podcast: Any other news from Alliance in Sao Paulo that you think our audience would like to know?
Fabio Gurgel: We are working very hard here preparing the team for the next season, Europeans is our next goal, among other things that we working on in order to organize the school even better.
The FightWorks Podcast: Thank you for your time Fabio!
Fabio Gurgel: big hug
Gabriel Vella’s hand is raised as he defeats Rodrigo Cavaca (CheckMat BJJ) and wins the gold at the 2009 Mundials.