Popovitch: “The gi helps my no-gi game”

Popovitch against Lepri. Photo: Luca Atalla.

Winner of the most recent ADCC, in 2009, Pablo Popovitch carries on proving he’s a tough nut to crack in No-Gi Jiu-Jitsu. In the supermatches at last Saturday’s UFC Fan Expo in Boston, Popovitch beat No-Gi Worlds champion Lucas Lepri. The bout between our GMA’s was an evenly-matched affair, and Pablo won by 2 to 0. Check out the conversation with the black belt, our GMA in Florida.

How did the match with Lepri go in your view?
It was a great match but I felt we didn’t open the game until the last two minutes of regulation time. I was training a lot of MMA and felt my game was a little rusty. After eight minutes I kind of figured his guard out and that was when I almost passed his guard a couple of times. Lucas is a great fighter who has won many championships. It’s the second time we go against each other and both times I won with a tight score. His guard is really good and it’s hard to score, I want to thank him for taking the match on such short notice.

You were going to face Gregor Gracie, but he got injured and in came Lepri. Did that hinder you?
Not really. Both are great fighters, but I trained a lot and I was ready to face anyone. Injuries happen all the time; you have to prepare for this kind of thing.

When do you compete next?
I want to win the Florida State Championship, Pan and the No-Gi Worlds. I will train a lot and give my best to win each of those tournaments.

Do you prefer competing without the gi? Why?
Back in the day, when I used to train with Master Carlson Gracie, everyone was focusing on no-gi training. Right around the time when Arona won his first ADCC that’s when I fell in love with no-gi training and made it my goal to win the ADCC; that was my dream. For the past six years I was a finalist twice and won it last year. I love training with the gi, and I am sure it helps my no-gi game. But the truth is I enjoy competing no-gi a lot. Maybe I’ll get the itch to compete with the gi soon. If I do I will be prepared. I will need about three months of straight gi training, run a couple of smaller tourneys and I will be ready for the big show.

If anyone is ever in Florida, make sure to visit my schools in Ft. Lauderdale or Pembroke Pines. Here is my official website for more info

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