TRAINING: Usually we do MMA or conditioning training in the morning, followed by specific training in the afternoon or evening, like Jiu Jitsu, wrestling or boxing.
When and why did you start training for fighting? Jiu Jitsu is something every boy tries in Rio de Janeiro, especially if you are not very good at soccer. I actually started training Jiu Jitsu at the Gracie Barra Academy in Rio de Janeiro when I was 15 years old. A friend of mine from high school took me there. He is now Mark Hunt's Jiu Jitsu instructor in Australia.
What ranks and titles have you held? 4x Brazilian National Champion, 1999 Pan American Champion and 2x Silver Medalist at the ADCC Submission Wrestling World Championships, among other titles.
Do you have any heroes? I admire some great men: British Polar Explorer Sir Ernest Shakleton; my teacher Renzo Gracie for his extraordinary skills, heart and love for the sport (let's not forget the fact that he has the personality that matches it all); and 3x Surfing World Champion Andy Irons: his career started with some bumps but he pulled himself together and become one of the toughest competitors I have ever seen in any sport.
What does it mean for you to fight in the UFC? To fight in the UFC is a dream I realized back in 2001 when I fought my 2nd Pro fight. As a Martial Arts competitor I want to be a part of the greatest organization, competing against the best in the world. The UFC is the biggest organization with the best fighters, and top 10 rankings, the cream of the crop, include many of their names. The level doesn't get any higher than that.
Did you go to college and if so what degree did you earn? I did two years of Industrial Engineering in Brazil prior to moving back to the US where I attended a local college here in New Jersey for two years. Actually, when I joined the UFC back in 2001 I quit to dedicate myself full time to teaching and training.
What was your job before you started fighting? I started teaching Jiu Jitsu part time when I was 17 years old in Brazil. When I moved to the US I taught classes at the Renzo Gracie Academy. Now I own my own Jiu Jitsu school, which is undergoing expansion, with over four hundred active dedicated students in Hamilton NJ. I have never had a job that didn't involve Martial Arts.
Specific accomplishments in amateur competition? I fought only one Amateur MMA Match, which is now on the special features on the HBO documentary about Mark Kerr titled 'Smashing Mashine". I leg locked a Sambo fighter so I was pretty proud.
Specific accomplishments in pro competition? I fought for the now extinct Pride FC in the Gracie X Japan Challenge alongside Ralph Gracie and the Late Ryan Gracie. We won and it was the biggest honor I have had as a Martial Artist. Ryan was like an older brother to me if it wasn't for him I would have never fought MMA. I also won the Middleweight King of Pancrase Title, defeating Nathan Marquardt in the first round.
Ranks in any martial arts styles: 3rd Degree Black Belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
Favorite grappling technique: In competition the one that gets me the win, it could be a takedown, a choke or armbar it doesn't really matter as long as my hand is raised at the end. As far as training I love training in the Gi, it is not 100% applicable to MMA but it makes your defense and transitions much sharper. It just opens up your game.
Favorite Striking technique: Leg Kicks.