In 2011, Rodolfo wants all the black belt titles missing from his mantel

Rodolfo in photo by Carlos Ozório

Tipped as one of the big names of the new generation of black belts, Rodolfo Vieira had to sit out some of the main competitions in 2010. A knee injury suffered during the World Pro qualifiers kept him out of the main event in Abu Dhabi, as well as other major IBJJF events, like the Brazilian Nationals, the Pan, and the Worlds. Focused on the coming year, Rodolfo just can’t stop training.

Check out the GFTeam prodigy’s opinions and expectations in the following interview:

What are your objectives for 2011?

The first step is the World Pro tryouts. After that I’ll go to the Pan – I’ve already bought my ticket –, and I want all the important IBJJF titles. I really want the Pan, the Worlds, and the Brazilian Nationals – titles I don’t have yet as a black belt. Of course, if I get past the qualifiers, I really want the World Pro too.

What’s your assessment of your (superheavyweight) division?

It’s hairy, a lot of sinister guys. Bernardo Faria is on fire, but there are a lot of others, like Alexandre de Souza, Léo Nogueira, and even Xande Ribeiro, although he only competes at the Worlds. There’s a big group, all of them with a chance of winning the Worlds. I have to be well trained to win the heavyweight division. It’s rough!

With athletes so evenly matched in terms of conditioning and technique, what makes the difference in winning?

Everyone’s been training a lot, that’s the bare minimum. I feel what’s important is having your head in the right place. When it is, then you train well and compete happy. Sometimes, you’re well trained, but when the time comes you draw a blank and don’t yield half what you trained to do. You have to be happy.

Rodolfo in action at Rio Open. Photo: Gustavo Aragão.

Do you feel mature enough to win the absolute division at the Worlds like you did at the Rio Open?

I want that absolute more than anything! I’m training hard, and if I don’t break from rhythm, if no injury gets in the way, I feel I will have what it takes to take a stab at it. The absolute is a tough dream to fulfill, but it’s not impossible. I’m going to go for it, and God willing, I’ll do it.

Results aside, which are the fighters you like watching most these days?

Roger (Gracie) is definitely number 1. I’m a big fan of his. I like (Rômulo) Barral, a guy with an excellent guard and a good passer; I really enjoy watching him fight. I like (Rubens) Cobrinha and (Denilson) Pimento too, he’s way talented. Another one I really like watching is Bruno Malfacine.

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