Seen as a shoo in for the world title, 2009’s champion Guilherme Mendes ended up dropping out of this year’s competition earlier than expected, after his very first match. Looking ahead, Guilherme forges on training for his next challenges and considers competing in the featherweight division alongside his brother Rafael, the current world champion. Check out what he had to say in this interview with GRACIEMAG.com.
You lost prematurely at this year’s World Championship. Did you learn some lesson or come up with anything positive from this not-too-pleasant experience?
I believe that everything we go through, regardless of if it is good or bad, provides us experience. It certainly was a great experience. At the time I was really sad because I train a lot for that to not happen, and, unfortunately, this time it happened. As much as we don’t like it, losing is a part of the sport, we’re all subject to it, it happens. But that doesn’t make me a worse athlete or undermine my confidence. I won the Worlds five years in a row, and this time this is what happened. I won all the other events and ended up making a mistake that cost me at the Worlds. But it certainly gives me strength to carry on pursuing my objectives. Next year I’ll go after my sixth world title, my second as a black belt, God willing! I’ll be more experienced and more mature.
You had trouble making weight in the light featherweight division. Are you thinking of moving up?
I weigh 68 kg and cut weight to make light featherweight. I fought in this division for a year and it was great for me, I beat great athletes, was champion of Europe, Brazil and the World as a black belt. If it were up to me, I’d be in the featherweight division for the challenges there. We’ll decide that soon, as soon as the whole Atos competition team is together for training. The thing that made losing weight for the Worlds hard was that I injured my knee in the final at the Brazilian Nationals, which took place two weeks earlier, where I won but left in a lot of pain. I had spend two weeks training suffering the effects of medicine because my knee hurt so much, and that ended up getting in the way when cutting weight.
But I’m not one to make excuses. If I lost it was because I made a mistake, and if I went in to fight it was because I knew I could win it. So there’s no excuse, now it’s all about forging ahead and carrying on in training like I’ve been doing to win, God willing.
What have you and your brother (Rafael) been up to?
We’re really happy. Right after the Worlds we did a series of seminars in the USA and Canada. Next month Rafael and I will head to Europe. We’ll stay there two weeks and do some seminars in Switzerland, Italy and Turkey. Then we’ll return home to train because we’ll already be starting into our schedule for 2011. In October we have a seminar in Panama, in November we’re going to Asia (probably Japan, Korea and Guam) and Canada. We’re getting recognition for the work we do, and all we can do is be thankful for it. We’re getting a lot of praise on our Facebook page (see here) and that just makes us happier and more determined. We really like teaching and showing people our style and our ways of training. Folks are getting more interested in learning Jiu-Jitsu every day and we’re seeing great academies and promising athletes outside the country. All that is the fruits of the demand for the knowledge they have.
Any competition coming up?
I’m training a lot with my brother and the gang here in Rio Claro. We’ve already started our physical conditioning work with our trainer Thiago Mendes at Octane, but I don’t know when we’ll compete next. For sure we’ll be in some event at the end of the year, we just haven’t decided which yet.