To receive a low blow during a MMA fight is a bad thing, but it happens. When you are hit twice is awful, but the athlete takes a deep breath and move on. But, four knees in less than three minutes? That’s too much. That was exactly what went though Leonardo Santos’ mind when he had to “test” his protection against the Japanese Sotaro Yamada on Sengoku 14. Back to Brazil, Leo had a funny chat with TATAME, commenting his win by declassification of his opponent and the suffering he went though on that octagon. “On the two firsts, I thought he was kicking the wrong place since I’m taller than him, but after the fourth I thought: “it’s not possible”, reminds Leo, comparing the knees to the uppers and knees given by his training partners Marlon Sandro and José Aldo: “I could be hit 10 times with an upper from Marlon, 30 times with José (Aldo)’s knee, but that thing was hurting a lot (laughs)”, jokes the fighter, who now sights the belt of his division.
Your last fight didn’t go like you were expecting, but you got the win. What did you think of it?
Yeah, man… We train in order to in, but we can never know what will happen. I didn’t want it to happen the way it did, I had a good strategy to keep the fight standing, to do the bang with him because I’m from Jiu-Jitsu and he was expecting me to try to take him down. I think I chose the right tactic and that, at that time, was confusing for him and he despaired. I think he lost control of himself and messed it up, but he could have got nervous too because the tension to be in there is huge, only who is in there knows it. There’s not much to say about it… It’s sad to win the way I did, but what matters is the win itself.
You hit in him the first low blow, but the he applied four on you. What was going though your head at that time?
Man, the coup I fit was not on his low zone, it was on his waist, with the feet fit… But, what can I do? There’s nothing to say about it, it happened…
Do you think the judge should have interrupted the fight before that fourth blow?
I began to lose my focus… I tried to stand up, to take a breath and don’t lose the focus of the fight, but after the third coup I was kind of sad, I didn’t get what was going on. After he hit me there for the third time, I thought he wouldn’t be disqualified anymore. I thought he would be punished, like losing his scholarship, but he wouldn’t be disqualified because he had hit me three times and the event didn’t do a thing, so I thought it was bet for me to keep on fighting. He hit me for the fourth time and I looked at the referee and said: “it was the fourth time”. Then they disqualified him… I didn’t expect them to do that anymore.
What the guys said on the backstage of the show about his posture?
No one got it, we didn’t get what happened and why he did that. After the fight I began to think it was naughtiness, but, when I was talking to Marlon (Sandro), I thought he lost control… He thought I’d do one think and I did the exact opposite thing, so he was desperate, but only he can tell whether it was meanness or not.
Did you meet him after the fight?
I meet him. He came and apologized to me, said he didn’t mean to and I forgive him. I’m not God to go and judge him. I was there to fight, it didn’t work out, so ok… Let’s move on. I can’t keep thinking about it over and over again… He apologized, said he would like to fight me again, but I said: “Next time, I’ll use a rock protector (laughs)”.
With those sharp knees, it wouldn’t be a bad idea…
For me it’d be great. On the two firsts, I thought he was kicking the wrong place since I’m taller than him, but after the fourth I thought: “it’s not possible”.
The problem now is to get a fine voice, having problems on reproducing laughs)…
Man, I’m glad I already have one, so I wasn’t worried about it (laughs). My boy is grown up, has a good health, so let’s go for it (laughs).
You train with the tough guys from Nova União. Which is the toughest thing: to handle Manlon Sandro’s uppers, the kicks of José Aldo or the low blows of the Japanese?
I could be hit 10 times with an upper from Marlon, 30 times with José (Aldo)’s knee, but that thing was hurting a lot… The worst part is that, on the event, you’re concentrated in order not to lose your focus. It’s an odd situation… I won, but it was really weird because I trained a lot and I’ve been hit four times with low blows and I forgot to train that defense (laughs).
Now you can minister seminars about clinch defense for low blows (laughs)…
Don’t even mention it… It’s on the past for me now, man. I don’t want to feel it again (laughs). To win this way is not the same thing, you get off there lacking something. But it’s cool… Le’t go for the next one and see what happens.
You have been quoted to dispute the lightweight GP… Did the guys from the event say anything to you yet?
Akijiro Gono ruined the party because the guys were counting on his win… They’s said to me, during the fight: “If Gono wins, you’ll fight him for the belt”. After he loss, things got messed up again, so I don’t know what will happen. I think they’ll make a GP. If they don’t make one, I don’t know what they’ll do because things are busy around here, so I have to be sharp to get there and make a statement.