GRACIEMAG – Alliance enters the competition riding four-straight world titles in the adult team contest, but in 2012 there will be some notable black belts missing from the lineup, with neither Sérgio Moraes, Marcelo Garcia nor Michael Langhi entering the mix. What weapons is the team bringing to secure their fifth title in a row and seventh overall?
FABIO GURGEL – Not having those three would indeed make a difference for any team, but we were always aware that each year we would lose some competitors, and we prepared for it. Right now we may very well have the strongest base team we’ve ever had in any championship we’ve ever entered. Tarsis Humphreys will be back, and of course all the other black belts will be joining the dispute for the gold. New talent that came up at different branches of the team thanks to our teaching system may be what makes the difference for us this year. Cobrinha generally scores nine points for us, but through his students he may make us 20, perhaps 30. The same goes for Marcelinho and so many other fighters who are less famous but of equal importance to the team. We have 270 athletes who are ready to go! Let’s see what happens.
GRACIEMAG – Cobrinha signed up for the Worlds featherweight division and may come up against Rafael Mendes again. Have you spoken with him about their match at the Pan? How did he deal with defeat and get motivated for another bout?
GURGEL – Cobrinha is the most determined guy I’ve ever seen in our sport. It was a hard loss to swallow for all of us, but the good part is that another championship was coming up right after it. What better motivation could there be than that?
GRACIEMAG – Bernardo Faria is a great asset and already a world champion but hasn’t yet found a way to beat Rodolfo Vieira. Wouldn’t it be a mistake for Bernardo to insist on pulling half-guard? Have you analyzed their matches to identify the mistakes made and come up with a strategy that works next time around, one that can yield him the world absolute title?
GURGEL – Bernardo isn’t the only one who hasn’t managed to beat Rodolfo, is he? Anyone thinking that’s Bernardo’s only weapon is sorely mistaken, but to derail an opponent of Rodolfo’s caliber isn’t always that simple. I’ll take a bet with anyone that someday it will happen. The two are in their early twenties and will face each other many time yet. Who knows, it might even happen next week? I’ll be there to find out.
GRACIEMAG – Ever since her arrival at Alliance, Gabi Garcia has shown a marked improvement in technique, but she is still the target of criticism for using strength and size to win. What’s your breakdown of Gabi as a fighter? Do you feel strength and size are still her main weapons?
GURGEL – Criticism is a part of life for those who are winning, but as you yourself said, the evolution of her technique is apparent. That is due to all her dedication. Besides, she was always big and strong, and she didn’t always win. Isn’t the Jiu-Jitsu maxim that technique overcomes brute force? So anyone who falls back on that argument might not know as much about Jiu-Jitsu as they think.
GRACIEMAG – You’re one of Jiu-Jitsu’s great scholars, always keen to new things arising in the sport. Between the berimbolo, legdrag and 50/50, do you feel Jiu-Jitsu is going in the right direction? What do you think about the Jiu-Jitsu on display at the big tournaments these days? Outside of your team, who’s the fighter drawing the most attention in a positive way?
GURGEL – I feel Jiu-Jitsu corrects itself and evolves the whole time. Legdrag, 50/50, berimbolo—they’re efficient techniques that force athletes and Jiu-Jitsu professors to update themselves and discover new techniques, whether to perfect moves or defend against new ones. I in particular am against any talk of the old Jiu-Jitsu being more efficient and that today the kids don’t know “Jiu-Jitsu.” They know a lot, and they’re the best of all times. Jiu-Jitsu only moves forward, and even if it sometimes stumbles here or there, it’s in constant evolution. There are some athletes on other teams who I make a point of watching. Rodolfo Vieira, Rafael Mendes, Marcus Bochecha, Leandro Lo and others all display really high quality Jiu-Jitsu.