The man to dethrone Rafael Mendes? Exclusive interview with Augusto Tanquinho about his return to competition, his strategy, and his future plans in the US.

Tanquinho beating Rafael Mended at World Pro 2011

Augusto Mendes, also known as Tanquinho within the Jiu Jitsu community, is a Black belt under the legendary Master of BJJ, Mr Francisco Mansur. Tanquinho is also one of the most recognized referees in BJJ and an amazing professor of the sport, being one of the head instructors at the Soul Fighters camp. In 2011 he started raising some heads his way after a successful weight drop to featherweight (was a lightweight previously) where he competed and defeated some of the biggest names in Jiu Jitsu (Cobrinha, Ryan Hall, Bruno Frazatto, Rafael Mendes). He was the only man to defeat Rafael Mendes in 2011.

1.Tanquinho, Please update us on your injury and rehabilitation.
Tanquinho beating Cobrinha at Worlds 2011
During one of my trainings I had a lot of pressure on my neck and with this I got a hernia on my cervical spine on the discs C6-C7 with compression on the nerve roots of the brachial plexus. I had my surgery 10 days after my injury and thank God it was a success! The surgeon took out my hernia, and put in a graft from my hip bone. A titanium plate with 4 screws was also put in my neck.
The recovery is very long and slow. I need to do many different exercises of physical therapy to stimulate the muscles the had atrophied from the compression. The whole process requires me to have a lot of patience. I am feeling good now and I am getting better everyday, but I know that I still have a long way until I come back to training. I think in about 1 or 2 months I will be back on the mats!

2. How soon can we expect to see you competing, and what are the competitions that you will compete in?

It is hard to predict exactly when I will be back competing. As for now, I am just focused on being 100% recovered and get back into training. The date I will compete again depends on how my body will react when I start training hard and working out. When I feel that I am physically and mentally ready, I will be back to the tournaments!! I would like to fight the Worlds of the IBJJF, but I really don’t know if I will be in good condition, especially to fight in the biggest competition of the year!

With partner Mackenzie Dern

3. Please guide us through your success at the big competitions of 2011 (Worlds, world pro, WP Brazil trials etc…)

My results in 2011 happened because I dedicated myself and training a lot! I gave up a lot of things to better dedicate myself and I was feeling very good mentally. I met my real weight class and I did a lot of dieting with training to have good fights! I respect all of my adversaries and I know how good they all are! I studied there strong and weak points and above everything I believe in my jiu-jitsu. I know that I trained a lot for those tournaments and for me, there is no magic formula to be successful, just hard work, determination, and anyone can get there!

4. Do you have a game plan when you compete? For example do you have a special strategy against the Mendes bros, or Cobrinha?

Always when I fight I have a strategy in my head. However, things don’t always happen how we imagine they would and we need to change the strategy, but I always enter a fight knowing exactly where I want to get to and which positions I will try not to let my adversary get to. My strategy changes every fight, depending on my opponent. There will be fights that I try to fight on bottom and the next fight I prefer to play a top game. I am able to do this because I have a versatile fighting style, and I feel comfortable on bottom, on top, or trying to take down.

Tanquinho is a certified IBJJF referee
5. What are your plans in terms of bjj, are you planning to stay in Brazil or to maybe open a Soul fighters school in the States in the future?
I am in the process right now of moving to the U.S. and soon I will open a Soul Fighters there. I am going to a city in Arizona and I am very excited to start this process! I am positive that many big athlete will be made there!



6. Please tell us about Soul fighters Romania. How did you open a affiliate in Romania?  
Stefan Gavrilescu of Soul Fighters Romania

We have Stefan Gavrilescu from Romania that spent sometime with us in Brazil, training and learning and then he went back to his country, opening this affiliation with us. His academy is growing and he is, now the organiser of the World Pro trials in Bucareste. Stefan is very dedicated and we see him as a good teacher to open an affiliate for Soul Fighters in Europe! Stefan is a student of my brother Bruno Tank and now he is under the supervision of our other Soul Fighters black belt, Fabricio Pereira who does a great job in Malaga, Spain.

Tanquinho, thank you very much and all the best in 2012!

 Watch Tanquinho’s 2011 HL: