Lucas Lepri (Alliance) kicked off the season with some big wins. First he won the European Open, closing out with Michael Langhi. Then last weekend he drove from New York to New Jersey and earned a ticket to Abu Dhabi for himself, winning the World Pro tryouts.
And it was no easy ride, as he tells GRACIEMAG.com.
What did you think of the European Open?
The 2011 European Open weas high level, just as high as the Worlds. Everyone in it was good. And there was something else: before the Euro Open I stopped by Athens to teach a seminar, and when I arrived in Lisbon I was three kilos over weight (laughs). I had to lose it all on the day! I faced Helder “Bob Esponja” in the first match; he’s tough, I’d faced him a few times before. It was a hard match, I was weak, but my second was better: I ended up facing Jonathan Torres and everything went according to plan. Thank God I managed to win the two matches to close out the final with Michael.
Is the plan to double up like that all year?
That’s always the plan. If it’s possible, we’ll close out every event we’re in together. Michael is a great friend and incredible athlete. I admire what he does a lot!
What’s cooking now?
I’m going to continue training in New York with my students and friends. I’m heading to Atlanta for a training camp for the Pan with Master Romero Jacaré. It’ll be great to learn from the master and train with the whole elite squad at Alliance Atlanta. Then, right after the Pan, I’ll head to Abu Dhabi, since last weekend I won the under-74-kg qualifiers in New Jersey. I had three matches and faced JT in the final again. I’m really glad to have participated in the event and taken a student, Chris Visentin, with me. He won the purple belt absolute.
It’s worth reminding readers not that anyone can participate in the World Pro main event. The tryouts are just meant to reward the winners with free travel and board.
So you’re training at full steam now. Who are the opponents who may get in your way this season?
I can name a number of up-and-coming lightweights. Really talented new guys come up in the division every year. I can always mention Celso (Venicius), Durinho, Augusto Tanquinho, JT, but there are a lot of athletes who may surprise us. That’s why I dedicate my training to all types of opponent.