* One of the big names in competitive Jiu-Jitsu in the United States, Brazilian Gabriel Almeida has been fortunate – and competent – by remaining active during the coronavirus pandemic. More recently, the black belt fought in the IBJJF Pan-American Championship, winning bronze medal in the light heavyweight division. Before that, he stood out in events with arranged fight such as, Fight To Win (F2W), and celebrated his recent opportunities in the fight world, in an interview with TATAME.
“These events were important during quarantine, as they were the only ones that were going on and kept many of us (athletes) active during this difficult period. I, for example, participated in six events here in the United States. It was also a good time for these events, as they grew a lot, as all eyes were on them, ”said Gabriel, who continued on about Fight To Win.
“F2W today is the most active event here in the USA, they have been putting on three cards a month and were the first to return during the pandemic. Seth Daniels (responsible for the organization) is a guy who works very hard and knows what he is doing. Many events appear and disappear over time, but the F2W has been around for a long time and continues to grow. I think the existence of this type of event is very important because it brings a more professional view of the sport, where athletes receive scholarships to fight and are able to really make money, instead of indirectly, as usually happens in tournaments ”.
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For Fight To Win, Gabriel (28), notched up important victories over Roberto Jimenez, Manuel Ribamar and, Romulo Barral, one of the big names in Jiu-Jitsu worldwide. The victory against Barral came in F2W 152, through referee decision: “Romulo is one of the best of all times. It is a victory that will greatly increase self-confidence. I am not fighting to challenge anyone in particular, but myself, each day by trying to give a little more than the day before. The goal is constant evolution, improve my Jiu-Jitsu and my performances more and more ”, said the Checkmat team representative, who graduated to black belt by Leozinho Vieira.
Finally, the native of Rio de Janeiro state, celebrated the return of championships, even without fans and with a series of safety protocols due to the pandemic, but at that moment, it is still easier to hold events with arranged fights, compared to Miami’s Abu Dhabi Grand Slam.
“It was good to be back. We all miss competitions, the fighters and the fans. On the mat, the usual wars have been going on, high quality fights. The difference being organization. Capacity has been reduced for public inside (only coaches and athletes allowed) and a lot of care has been placed on hygiene, such as wearing masks, sanitized mats at all times, etc. It is more work, but I believe it is important at this moment we are passing through, ”said Gabriel, before finishing.
“The problem now is putting many people together in the same space. With arranged fights, it is possible to test all athletes before the event, as the UFC has done recently. But an event the size of Panou do Mundial usually receives more than 2 thousand athletes, and to test at this scale, requires a lot of structure. The first super fight I did at F2W, the event took place only as a PPV, zero public. And as things started to open up, they added a reduced capacity audience ”, he concluded.
- By Diogo Santarém