This has been a storied year for brown belt Yuri Simoes of Checkmat BJJ. He just can’t seem to be stopped. The 21-year-old took gold in the super heavy division at the 2011 Gi Worlds. He moved on to the North American Open where he won his division and the open class, and then showed up to the 2011 No-Gi Worlds as a heavyweight ready to do some more work, which he successfully did.
Yuri had three matches in his heavyweight division and won all three by submission. “I hurt my foot in my second fight,” Yuri says. Days later he would say that he actually broke his foot in that match, which makes his wins even more extraordinary. “My foot popped during a foot lock, but I got out of it. I promised myself I would win the absolute so I continued to fight.” Yuri hobbled into the heavyweight final match and got a quick foot lock against Matheau Smith of Easton BJJ for the gold.
Yuri knew going into the absolute that he had to do everything in his power to avoid letting anyone touch his foot. “I knew I wasn’t 100%, so I had to be smart,” he says. Yuri had four matches in the open class. “I won my first match by an advantage, but I popped the same foot,” he grimaces, “Then I fought DJ Jackson from Lloyd Irvin and he was the toughest guy I fought.” Yuri ended up beating DJ the powerhouse by a sweep and then pulling guard.
Yuri won his third match by points and then had to face off in the final against Lloyd Irvin’s ultra heavy big guy Willie Leonard. “I tried to go under and pull guard, but I couldn’t take him down,” Yuri recounts, “I protected my foot. He got an advantage for getting a foot lock on my other foot. Then I almost swept him again.” Yuri ultimately won the match two advantage points to one advantage point, making Yuri the big double gold medal winner for the day.
Yuri admits that if he’d had another match after Willie, he would not have been able to endure it, but he did what he had to do to reach a dream. “I’m so happy,” Yuri gushes, “I’ve never won the No-Gi Worlds before. I came to the US to train with Lucas Leite and Sharpei. I dedicated myself 100%. I expected to win today. This is the first time in my life I did nothing but eat, sleep, and train.”
In 2009 Yuri closed out the Worlds with teammate Marcus “Bochecha” Almeida, and they both got their brown belts on the podium. Bochecha has since received his black belt and made his mark on the competition circuit. Yuri is looking forward to doing the same. “I really want to fight as a black belt,” Yuri says, “I’ve been training since I was nine years old. I’ve been training for my dream – to be a world champion black belt.”
Yuri is now back in Brazil, but will be back in the States for the Gi season. “I will do all the big tournaments in 2012,” he says. Yuri wants to thank Lucas Leite, Sharpei, and “my parents and family,” he says, “They are everything to me. I also want to thank God because there would be no other way for me to win and be here today if it wasn’t for Him.”