Bruno Pucci is a 2 time Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu No-Gi World Champion, current MMA fighter for ONE Championship, and an instructor at Evolve Mixed Martial Arts in Singapore. We were able to talk to him during his fight camp for his upcoming fight in ONE Championship in Kuala Lumpur on the 2nd of September about his BJJ background, his transition to MMA, and what it is like training with World Champions on a daily basis.
When did you start BJJ
I started BJJ back in 2004 when I was 13 years old.
Would you ever compete in BJJ again
Yes, definitely. I’ve got a strong desire to compete again. This year I had wanted to compete in the IBJJF Worlds as I was there cornering my students. The main challenge is that BJJ is still growing in Southeast Asia, so it has been difficult to accumulate points in the IBJJF ranking system, while I’m having my MMA training camps here and can’t travel far. There aren’t that many BJJ competitions around Southeast Asia. Aside from that I also really enjoy the Eddie Bravo Invitational show. It would be nice to compete in that too.
How would you describe your BJJ style?
I started to learn BJJ during the period when BJJ was transitioning from the pure “old school” style to the “new school” style. My approach towards BJJ is very open-minded. While I love the old school style and it is very important to have a solid base with it, at the same time, I also love to take risks and find new scrambles.
Why did you transition from BJJ to MMA
I used to watch a lot of MMA (back in the Vale Tudo days) and saw some of my teammates training for their fights. That influenced me to want to fight as well. Aside from that, knowing the MMA and BJJ history, where BJJ practitioners were trying to establish that jiu-jitsu was more effective than other forms of martial arts influenced me. I feel every BJJ black belt should try to compete in MMA at least once, since it dates back to our roots.
Some people these days are complaining about IBJJF rules, what’s your take on that?
This is an interesting question. This does not just happen in BJJ, but also with other forms of martial arts. When a martial art becomes a sport, there will be more rules and structure in place to try to commercialize the sport and to dictate a winner. The thing with that is that people will do anything to win, including strategizing a lot. This could be good or bad for the sport. It’s natural for the development of a sport as it gets more competitive to become an elite sport.
What is some advice you would give BJJ competitors who are transitioning into MMA?
Go back to the basics. A lot of submission attempts and submission escapes. In MMA fights, sometimes by the time you get to the ground, you only have that short window of time to finish the fight. You have to take the right shot and be sharp in your submission game.
You teach and train at Evolve MMA in Singapore. What are the advantages of being able to train with so many black belts every day?
I love it! The best thing is that we are able to share our knowledge and help each other grow in our game. We’ve got so many World Champions and BJJ experts at Evolve MMA like Leandro Issa, Michelle Nicolini, Teco Shinzato and Thiago Kozama.
Tell us what it was like being able to start learning Muay Thai from World Champions at Evolve MMA from the beginning of your MMA transition, having only been exposed to BJJ before?
I’m really grateful to be able to learn from the best, I feel that I’m improving everyday. All my Muay Thai World Champion instructors here at Evolve MMA have been very helpful in helping me to develop my game. For my current fight camp I have been mainly training with Kru Yod. He is a trainer of World Champions, having previously trained great names like George St-Pierre, whom I’m a huge fan of, amongst other top fighters.
Can you talk a little about training Gi and No-Gi for MMA? Do you prefer one over the other? Or do they both have their place.
For me it’s impossible to learn No-Gi without having trained in a Gi before. Both complement each other. The Gi training will refine your technical skills, while No-Gi will help with your pressure and flow. It’s important to train in both to fight MMA.