BJJEE Rising Stars: The Mahecha Twins, World Class BJJ Brown Belts


The Mahecha bros are two world class BJJ brown belts that you should keep an eye on. They are sure to be contenders at black belt. In this interview with BJJ Eastern Europe, the twin brothers Brian and Kevin from Folrida, talk about their Jiu-Jitsu story, beincompetition machines, and how Brian overcame cancer. Check it out:

1. Hi Guys, can you please introduce yourself to the BJJ Community of Eastern Europe? 

B: Hello, my name is Brian Mahecha. I am 24 years old, a Brown Belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. I train at American Top Team in South Florida. My main titles in Bjj would have to be placing 1st at the 2010 FILA Grappling World Championships in Krakow, Poland; Placing 2nd at the 2013 Abu Dhabi World Pro Jiu Jitsu Cup at Brown and placing 3rd at the 2012 IBJJF Pan Americans at Purple.

K: And I’m Kevin Mahecha, my brother and I are fraternal twins. I’m also a Brown Belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. A few of my main titles are placing 3rd At the IBJJF Worlds 2010 in my Weight Class and 3rd in the Open Weight Class as a blue belt, 3rd in the Abu Dhabi World Pro 2010 as a blue belt, 3rd in the Abu Dhabi World Pro as a brown belt, and most recently the IBJJF New York Summer Open 3rd at weight and 2nd in the open weight where I beat the heavily favored Tim Spriggs 9-0, I also did the IBJJF NoGi Pan Americans this past weekend which I placed 3rd at my weight in.

2. Please tell us about your Jiu-Jitsu story

B: Well before I really started focusing on Jiu-Jitsu my brother and I were amateur kick boxers (sanshou, muay thai, international rules) who wanted to get into mixed martial arts. So it was natural to train at one of the best mma gyms in the world (American Top Team). Once I actually started training Jiu-Jitsu I just fell more and more in love with it. When I was getting ready for kickboxing fights I was still keeping half my training Jiu-Jitsu so I wouldn’t get too rusty or anything. Then it came to a point when I realized that Jiu-Jitsu is what I really loved and at that point I decided to focus 100% on the gentle art.
The cerebral aspect of fighting is what really got me into the martial arts and I really feel like there is nothing that embodies that mental and technical aspect more so than Jiu-Jitsu. A striker can be the most technically sound person in the world but once they get hit they aren’t thinking the same and then that cerebral aspect is out the window and it’s reaction from there. In sport Jiu-Jitsu no one’s going to punch you in the face which means you can operate at 100 % of your mental capacity.

K: Brian forgot to mention how we were ranked as top 2 Amateur Kickboxers in the nation at our weight in 2008 with many notable titles and wins under us, me for Muay Thai and Brian for International Rules, but despite being so successful in kickboxing we went full force as blue belts to see how deep the Jiu jitsu rabbit hole goes, and it’s funny because now I’ve realized the rabbit hole will never end and that’s why I love this art so much.

3. You have really blown up on the competition scene in the past few years placing in some of the most prestigious tournaments. What triggered your success? What motivates you? What have you your most memorable moments?

B: I’ve been happy with Kevin and I’s steady climb up through the Jiu-Jitsu ranks. It hasn’t been anything meteoric like the Miyao brothers or other guys but it’s been a steady and consistent climb.
Every day I think of ways that I can improve in aspects of my game, there has never been a practice where I go to train just to train for the hell of it. There is always a purpose; whether it’s to practice a specific position that was shown or one that I have on my mind or if it’s to practice something more broad such as Spider Guard retention. Taking that approach to training I feel makes your progress and growth much more consistent and makes training enjoyable all the time in my opinion. Because that means every training you will have successes and failures which will constantly give you something to continue progressing upon or improving something that needs to be addressed. Every success no matter how big or small makes me happy but never satisfied. I can look at a loss and be happy in the new positions I was successfully implementing and look at a win and be disappointed in my strategy.
I think that’s what motivates me the most; that constant and consistent growth that comes with Jiu-Jitsu through training, fighting and living the Jiu-Jitsu lifestyle.
My most memorable moments in Jiu-Jitsu have been those moments where I was on the brink of defeat and would pull out a win at the very end. I have had quite a few of those moments and I’m proud of that. It shows me that I have heart and that ability to push through adversity no matter how stacked the chips are against me. The finest of those moments would have to be the ones where Kevin was there to share that feeling of triumph with me.

K: Brian put it best, our climb through the ranks has been consistent and getting closer to that 1st place World title every day. From December 2010- December 2011 I had two ACL Replacements, including a meniscus repair all on the same leg. I couldn’t get back to competition until February 2012, which is why my career as a purple Belt was so short, after Worlds 2012 I lost my 5th match in the Quarter Finals against Michael Liera of Atos by a ref decision, my coaches then gave me my Brown Belt after that worlds. Wanting to make a mark as a Brown belt to make up for my purple belt career helps motivate me, also enjoying and loving every moment I’m able to train and compete because I know injuries can happen. Off the top of my head one of my most memorable moments was in Abu Dhabi 2010 as a blue belt, where in the quarter finals I was set to fight one of the United Arab Emirate’s top locals which happened to be one of Shiekh Tahoon’s sons. They moved us onto a special mat, he had Renzo Gracie cornering him, this guy had all this special treatment and I was all alone. Anxious and nervous from all the attention he got, but I remember hearing my brother’s voice in my head and I just got super pumped up. I was dominating the match but they weren’t giving me my points, but right in the last 5 seconds I jumped the prettiest looking flying arm bar and finished him while still in the air, he fell back screaming grabbing his arm. I just remember screaming in excitement in the top of my lungs into the sky and slamming my belt onto the ground, I was all alone and it was only the quarterfinals but it was a great personal moment for me that makes me smile every time.


 4. Please tell us about your academy?

B: The academy that Kevin and I train at is American Top Team. We train at a few locations. Our main locations are American Top Team headquarters with Master Ricardo Liborio and Bruno “Brunim” Bastos, American Top Team Wellington with Emyr “Shark” Bussade” and American Top Team Aventura with Jonatas “Tagarela” Gurgel. All of these guys have a big part in our growth and successes. Sometimes people come up to me and ask why we haven’t thought about joining another team for Jiu-Jitsu… The quality of your learning and progress isn’t in the name of the gym you train at; it’s in the individuals who are delivering the instruction, overseeing your progress, the training partners that you progress with and it’s in your ability to learn and constantly question your abilities so that you can improve. I feel lucky to have such talented Jiu-Jitsu fighters and instructors who are invested in our progress and successes.

5. Brian, please tell us how you overcame cancer a few years ago and how you used that as a fuel for your Jiu-Jitsu career.

I was diagnosed with a stage three soft-tissue sarcoma in my left shoulder on May 1st, 2006. On May 10th, 2006 I had that cancer removed along with my Infraspinatus Rotator Cuff, part of my scapula and had my posterior capsule removed and replaced with cadaver tissue. Due to my rotator cuff being removed my Humerus was drilled into my shoulder socket with five titanium screws. Once that was done I would start the external radiation treatment which wasn’t easy. People have a conception of radiation always being Chemotherapy which isn’t always the case. In this form of radiation they needed to target the tissue cells directly by focusing a beam of radiation on my shoulder for an extended period of time. The result was that just about everything would be burned and killed that was caught in the beam. So I would have layers of skin falling off in the shower and just feel weak all the time.
Those that really helped me overcome this whole thing would have to be my parents who would do anything to get the best treatment for me. My physical therapists who really helped push me through the recovery and most importantly my brother who never let me lose my competitive drive to be the best. It’s easy to fall into group thought who put it into your head that maybe you should think of something else because of this unfortunate event. Being around Kevin, watching him train all the time and cornering him in his fights always kept that fire inside of me lit and I can proudly say that it never dimmed out. When you have a fire like that in you it doesn’t matter how daunting the task of recovery is; you’ll do it and exceed all of the limitations placed upon you. Those experiences and overcoming such a thing has kept that special flame in me lit and no matter how many successes or failures I have in my life and career it never dims out.

6. What is next for you two in 2013?

We plan to compete in the 2013 IBJJF Miami Open, and the IBJJF No-Gi Worlds and as many IBJJF Opens as possible to keep a consistent flow against quality opponents.

7. If you want to thank somebody or sponsors, feel free

B: Thank you to all those that believe in us. Our family for their unwavering support. My amazing parents for being examples of what it is to work hard and be dedicated to something you love. My brother for being my twin and having that same drive that I do which helps us both in keeping each other motivated no matter what. My lovely girlfriend Amanda for supporting my passion in life and being a strong pillar of support. Fighters know that it’s not easy to come by someone who truly supports what you do; so when you do it’s someone very special.

Thanks to my team. That includes my coaches Ricardo Liborio, Emyr “Shark” Bussade and Jonatas “Tagarela” Gurgel. As well as all of my training partners who allow me to push myself and constantly improve.

I would also like to thank Dr. Thomas H. Temple for the surgery in removing the cancer from my shoulder. His steady hand saved my life and put my body in a position that allowed me to be where I am today.

Thanks to Bull Terrier Fight Gear for believing in us, Ground Control Fight Gear for being the first ones to help us out, Ground Fighter for the great products, Lapel Choke for always helping me do a better job marketing myself as a fighter and Garden of Life for providing Kevin and I with the best supplements that I have ever had. All these sponsors believe in me and help make the life of a Jiu-Jitsu fighter possible. Jiu-Jitsu isn’t a professional sport; so it’s something that I feel is truly done out of love. It’s something that also isn’t possible without the help of others whether it’s your instructors, training partners, loved ones or sponsors.

K: Thank you and much love to all that support us, including our parents and loved ones. Brian put it best for our coaches, we would not be the same jiu jitsu fighters without you guys. I got to thank all our training partners, you guys are my brothers and I’ll always have your backs and will always believe in your skills to beat the best. Thank you to my physical therapist: Forrest and Jackie, you guys are the best, thank you for everything. Also my first strength and conditioning coach Mike, thanks for pushing me after all those surgeries. My surgeon who put up with me for two surgeries, Dr.Kaplan of University of Miami. Also I have to thank my girlfriend Davida at the time during that period of recovering from back to back surgeries, you helped me get back to 100% more then you will ever know.

8. One more question. Please tell us about the special bond of being twin brothers both with a burning passion for Jiu-Jitsu

B: Being a twin brother with Kevin who has the same burning passion for Jiu-Jitsu that I have helps in so many ways. More than half of our conversations are probably Jiu-Jitsu related so were always talking about techniques, matches and etc. Anyone who trains Jiu-Jitsu knows that it’s not a martial art that you can practice alone, you need other people there to practice on and train with. Having Kevin around all the time I feel like I always have a training partner who can push me and someone who I can always bounce Jiu-Jitsu theory off of. So in a sense I feel that really has optimized and in many ways sped up my growth as a Jiu-Jitsu fighter. I look at it as having an edge in many ways.

K: Like Brian said, we constantly talk and live Jiu jitsu together. Sometimes we get into hour long talks talking about nothing but Jiu jitsu technique and theories of how some things work or how they will evolve. Also of course, I’ve always felt this from fighting in the ring or the cage and it is no different than being on the mats, whenever I’m out there competing I feel like I have the heart and energy of my brother automatically in me. OSS!
Thanks Guys and all the best!