Story by Erik Engelhart at Tatame
Current absolute and weight champion at ADCC, Andre Galvao had a good start this year and earned one of the few titles he lacked on his collection: Abu Dhabi Pro. The black belt defeated Vitor Toledo on the weight finale and was overcome by Rodolfo Vieira on the judges’ call on the absolute dispute, on a much tied bout. Andre has beaten the GFTeam athlete in 2009 in a no gi fight, and is already learning from his mistakes in Abu Dhabi, wishing for a third fight against Rodolfo.
In the interview below, Galvao talked about the World Pro title, criticized the organization of the event, evaluated his loss to Rodolfo, commented on teaching Sheikh Tahnoon Bin Zayed, and claims to be more motivated than ever to get two gold medals at World.
You got your first Abu Dhabi Pro title, one you lacked in your collection. How did you like the competition?
Yeah, that was my first Abu Dhabi Pro title, the only one I didn’t have yet, but thank God I have it now. It was a high level competition, many good opponents and good people there. The Arab Emirates sees Jiu-Jitsu as a sport that is good for them, which is so true. If you do it, you know it. Their main goal is to make Abu Dhabi the world’s capital of Jiu-Jitsu. They’re working for it. But so that happens fast, they have to improve the organization, because there are many flaws.
Picture this: the first day black belts started fighting like six, 7p.m. and stopped at 1a.m., when we started fighting for the absolute title. And the delay also happened the next day, so it wasn’t just an incident. They have a great eye on competition, but the schedule is really badly done. There’s great rewarding (money prizes), which is excellent, but they lacked punctuality. That’s all. Besides that, there were great fights to watch.
Talking about a good fight, you and Rodolfo Vieira had a great rematch on the absolute finals and you were defeated by points (4×2). Why couldn’t you defeat him this time?
I guess what happened it was I got insecure. I guess I tried to use my game plan, I should’ve let it go a little more. I needed to fight harder. I lost some positions I couldn’t have loss. On a fight like this one, we can’t make mistakes, but we’re humans and it happens sometimes. When I was on top I should’ve been more careful, but I tried to speed things up and open a way for him.
You were defeated and now you’re even because you had defeated him in a no gi bout back in 2009. Do you think about a third fight?
Rodolfo is doing great and got me this time, congratulations. What I can tell you is that it was a very good fight for me. I’ve learned a lot from it and now I’m training more to correct my mistakes so I won’t do it again when we meet.
And how about the Jiu-Jitsu classes for Sheikh Tahnoon Bin Zayed, how were they? Is he really tough?
He’s very technical, knows real Jiu-Jitsu. Sheikh is a Jiu-Jitsu addict. He has good conditioning and knows how to use his weight, does guard and always goes for the submission. He’s a black belt graduated by Renzo Gracie, what do you want? (laughs) He’s complete. You can’t mess around with him because he’s a tough guy (laughs). The classes were great to me and it’s a huge pleasure teaching him. And not only because of what he has done in Jiu-Jitsu on the past decade, but because he’s thirsty for knowledge. He’s shown me very good stuff too, good positions. I’m really glad to help him.
What are the expectations for the Worlds? Will you fight both absolute and weight?
I’m feeling really great. We have a good training, high level training back in my gym in San Diego, California. That’s what is keeping me motivated. It won’t be different at World. That’s my job: I train to fight. I’ll dispute weight and absolute divisions. The expectations are huge, I’m more motivated than ever to have a good championship done.