Amal Easton will be accompanying Brendan Schaub for his fight against Gabriel Gonzaga at UFC 121 this Saturday. In a chat with GRACIEMAG.com, the Renzo Gracie black belt breaks down the way he sees the fight between Schaub and Gonzaga playing out and comments on the Jiu-Jitsu of the fighter’s he trains, like Shane Carwin, Nate Marquardt, and Eliot Marshal.
Here’s what he had to say:
What do you expect for Brendan Schaub’s fight with Napão?
I shared the dressing room with him before he faced Randy Couture and I felt there was no way he could lose. Napão is really good; he knocked out Cro Cop and dropped Shane Carwin. He hits hard and goes for the kill. He’s good on the ground, a world champion, and is well-rounded. He’s a big heavyweight, but Brendan has great qualities, too. It will be a war and I’m stoked to see this fight.
You coach a lot of MMA beasts in Jiu-Jitsu, all of them in the UFC or having been through the promotion. How are they on the ground?
Eliot Marshall, who’s been my student for years, is really experienced in Jiu-Jitsu. He won the Pan as a blue belt, purple belt, and brown belt, and took third at the Worlds at brown belt. If he hadn’t gone on to MMA, he could be a black belt world champion. Nate, Brendan, and Carwin, of course, gear their training towards what they’ll need in their fights. But they evolve with every passing day and are really good. Brendan and Shane played professional American football, and that’s no joke. They are blessed with extraordinary talent and genes. Now Nate never stops. He reminds me a lot of one of my teachers, Roberto Gordo, who is always on the mat training. He hardly rests after a fight, and is really experienced on the ground.
How did you get started working with MMA athletes?
It was a natural path. I trained muay thai ever since I was a kid and am a black belt in Jiu-Jitsu. I teach and, when I see an athlete’s good, I check out how he is in the ring. These days I work with really experienced athletes, some who have been with me for a long time and others who showed up more recently, but who are looking for the best help they can get.
But is your base still Jiu-Jitsu?
I don’t feel MMA is the most important thing. I always put on the gi and I like Jiu-Jitsu a heck of a lot. Jiu-Jitsu is for everyone. MMA a lot of people like while sitting on the coach with a cold beer, watching. Jiu-Jitsu everyone can do.