OTM: Have you been training with Claudio Franca the whole time? GT: Actually, I trained with someone else for about six months. Then Claudio moved here and I have been with him ever since.
OTM: How did you find out about Jiu Jitsu? Five years is a long time. GT: You know it was like a lot of people, I saw my first UFC. I heard about it from wrestling and such, and then I heard about this street fighting Judo, and did not know what it was and then saw this first UFC, and that was it. I always thought wrestling was the best, but then I saw Jiu Jitsu and then I saw a grappling style that was very scientific and made to win fights. From then on I was in to it.
OTM: Did you do any other martial arts before Jiu Jitsu? GT: Tried some Tae Kwon Do.
OTM: Did you wrestle? GT: I wrestled for one year in high school and wrestled three years in West Valley College and I coached a wrestling team for five years at Santa Cruz High. I was pretty average wrestler, I was just trying to learn stuff and catch up because they were pretty far ahead of me. Where I really learned wrestling was coaching, the psychology of learning to win matches. There is a lot more to fighting than just knowing technique and being a tough guy.
OTM: How do you build your mental edge, what do you do? GT: I don’t know how you build it, just a lot of matches, a lot of experience, a lot of losses, take a lot of lumps. At least I had to.
OTM: How did you end up at Abu Dhabi? GT: I tried to get in last year and they did not respond to me at all for a couple of months. I was training pretty hard; I thought I would get in. Then they did not respond to me so then I was not training that good. They called me a week before the tournament and asked if I wanted to go. I said sure I have to go to that.
OTM: Did you have to submit a tape or something? GT: No, just my resume. Told them who I was, that was it.
OTM: How come you didn’t go back this last year? GT: I guess they didn’t like me. I don’t know. They let a lot of guys in that I beat. I don?t think I fought that well last year, I had a good result, but I didn’t fight that well. I took fourth, but I did not like my performance last year. It was the best I could do under the circumstances. Hopefully, this year I will get back in, whether I have to re-qualify or whatever I have to do, I’m going to go back if I get the chance.
OTM: Do you prefer to fight with the Gi or without the Gi? GT: I like both. The Gi is so technical you really have to pay close attention to what you are doing in the Gi and it is a little slower. I like the no Gi because it less technical and more about hustle and scrambling and it’s a little quicker. For me, they both have their place. I think the combination of the two is the way to go.
OTM: Do you have some type of rivalry going with Ricco Rodriquez? GT: Not rivalry, he beat me twice, I beat him twice. We are the same category, same belt, he’s trying to be the best and I’m trying to be the best. We have to fight each other a lot.
OTM: Who do you say is the hardest fight you have ever had? GT: I’ve had a lot of hard fights, but Traven was my hardest fight. Outside of Traven, Rico is really tough, Camarillo is real tough. Sean Albert was tough. He is hard to do anything with because he is really strong. I fought and beat a lot of guys and lost to a lot of guys.
OTM: How do you like training with BJ Penn? GT: Yeah, it’s fun.
OTM: Pretty tough guy? GT: Yeah, a real tough little dude. Still haven’t passed his guard. That’s the difference in training with him, he can pass my guard pretty easy and I can’t really pass his guard. It is good, because he shares a lot of positions and he has a lot of the new game and he helps me with a lot of those and I show him a lot of wrestling positions. It’s fun. I like to train with people I like.
OTM: Do you have any plans to fight any No Holds Barred? GT: No, not yet, I don’t know if I ever will. It’s kind of weird, I think you have to have a certain type of ego to fight No Holds Barred. You have to really want it, especially now that there is really no money in it, unless your going to be in Japan fighting in Pride, it doesn’t seem like those guys make any money, so if you are going to do it for no money, you really have to want it. If the money was there, it was a business decision, then I could see doing it. I don’t know if I want to be a prizefighter.
OTM: Have you had any offers? GT: No, nobody really knows me.
OTM: Who are your favorite fighters in the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu? GT: I like all the guys I can’t fight like, Nino, all the guys with a really pretty game. It is something I can’t do so it’s cool to watch. Those are they guys I like, the ones that really like to play.
OTM: What about No Holds Barred. Who are your favorite guys? GT: I like Marc Kerr a lot. I like his style. Actually I like all the better Jiu Jitsu guys in the No Holds Barred. I like to watch those guys. There are so many good guys.
OTM: Is there anybody specifically you would like to fight next Jiu Jitsu? GT: Whatever, I don’t have anybody that stands out to me. I want to fight somebody good at my level. I’m only brown belt. So I want to fight the best brown belts. I want to fight as well as I can. I want to keep going, keep learning.
OTM: Let’s talk a little about Mundial. You did really well down there. GT: I had a good day.
OTM: How many fights did you have? GT: My category I had three fights. Actually I should have had four, but the guy didn’t show up in the first round. I fought the San Paulo state champion. Then I fought Alex McGow, that was a really tough fight, 0/0. I got the edge, they gave it to me on advantage because I pushed him out of the ring a bunch of times and he wasn’t really going for it, standing up. I was doing the best I could, he has really long arms and is strong, and he just held my Gi stiff-arming me.
OTM: I don’t think a lot of people know you won that tournament. GT: I don’t thinks so. Then in the finals I fought some Alliance guy, I don’t know his name, I won my weight class. Then I went into the open. I won a couple fights in the open, then my semi final I forgot I was fighting. I went and got arm locked. The first time I tapped in competition, but there will be more.
OTM: Since you live in Santa Cruz, got any tips for picking up hippie chicks? GT: I don’t know about hippie chicks.
OTM: You don’t like dirty-toed girls? GT: No man.
OTM: Are you about to do any surfing? GT: Yea, I have been surfing a little bit. I haven’t been surfing much since I got into Jiu Jitsu. I just got back into it. I went to Costa Rica. My brother is living there and I just got back from spending a month down there. Just got back into surfing again. Been surfing a lot at steamers lane.
OTM: What are some of the spots you hit? GT: Anywhere, beaches up north, just around town. Mostly the west side, I’m a west side guy. As far as chicks, they’re into surfers. Seems like all my buddies pull plenty of chicks.
OTM: What kind of music are you into? GT: Whatever. I have kind of mellowed out a little bit. When I was younger I was into punk rock, now I’ve mellowed out I’m into a lot of different stuff. Ben Harper and stuff.
OTM: Think you are going to Mundial this year? GT: Yeah, for sure. I will do my best, see what happens.
OTM: Fight your weight and the open? GT: Yeah, for sure. The best fights are in the open. My weight class is always tough, mostly big guys. Some of the big guys are really good and some are not so good. But in the open division you get all the good guys because guys about 200 pounds, he is strong enough to deal with my size but then he has the flexibility and all the other components that a lot of the other big guys don’t have. Those are the guys that give the best fights. Those are the guys I want to fight.
OTM: Let’s talk about your training. Your trainer just did a little demonstration for us. It seems like you have some pretty intense training. Tell me about the program you are doing. GT: I hooked up with my trainer, his name is Greg Glassman. He is a great strength and conditioning coach. He has really paid attention to the fighters needs. He has designed programs for us that really fit what we do. A lot of anaerobic conditioning interspersed with heavy weight lifting. We do a lot of plyometrics and functional weight lifting movements, not body building movements but weight lifting, such as snatch, squats, dead lift, and overhead push press, pull-ups. He does a lot of real functional whole body movements as opposed to body building isolation, the kind of thing you see in a gym. He designed a program for us and I love it, it changed me.
OTM: What does your training workout look like for a week? GT: I do circuit training one day a week, I train Jiu Jitsu five to six days a week, and I work out with my trainer three days a week. One day is a circuit train day, the other two days are weight lifting pretty heavy, interspersed with sprints, some really heavy anaerobic sprints, with weight lifting or pull ups, whatever we are doing that day. He mixes them up really good and works us really hard.
OTM: So by sprints, not just running fifty-yard dash sprints. GT: Get on the exercise bike and do one-minute sprints at the highest cadence. Two minutes on the rower, he sets a mark and wants you to meet it. It’s kind of an unreachable mark and he expects you to get it in two minutes. Some of his sprints are just jumping on the plyometric box for one minute.
OTM: Do you take any kind of supplements? GT: Yeah, actually I’m involved with a company called Pharminex.com. They have an amazing line of supplements. I take their vitamin, their life pack, you can really feel the difference. It is the only vitamin I have taken that you can really notice the difference. I also take CordyMax , which increases lung capacity and stamina. I take a little bit of glucosamine every now and again for my bad knee.
OTM: What about your diet? Do you have any specific diet? GT: I try to eat more of a zone diet. I do my best, how ever I got a sweet tooth. I didn’t get to look like this for no reason, but I try my best. It definitely works. I feel really good when I’m zoning. You can definitely notice the difference.
OTM: The Zone diet is low carbs, right? GT: It is a balanced diet. We eat a lot of carbs, bread, pastas, kind of useless carbohydrates. Zone takes some of the empty sugar and carbohydrates out of your life. You increase your healthy fat, and increase your protein intake. It is a balanced diet. It’s just that most people are out of balance with their carbohydrates. It’s not the high protein diet. It is actually a meat and vegetable diet.
OTM: Which of the academies do you usually teach at? Do you move around or do you stay with just one? GT: I move around. I teach in Santa Cruz five days a week and San Jose two days a week. I am teaching six days a week. Morning usually in Santa Cruz and afternoons in San Jose.
OTM: This is a pretty nice new academy. Did you guys just move in? GT: Yeah. We finally got a really nice school. We couldn’t do it without our trainor Greg. Greg works here in the school and we have another person who works in the pro shop. We share the rent, but we got a nice academy out of it. Training is getting better and better and our school is really coming up.
OTM: Claudio Fransa how does he fit into the politics of Brazil? What school is he from. What is his background? GT: He is actually not really involved in it because he is from Francisco Mansuere who is an eighth degree black belt under Helio Gracie. He runs Kyoto Jiu Jitsu. He is in New York teaching Kyoto Jiu Jitsu. He is an unbelievable man, a really nice man. Caudio really wasn’t Gracie Barra, Alliance, Carlson, just himself. So fortunately, I haven’t had to deal with too much politics.
OTM: Didn’t he start out with Rolls? GT: I think he started out with Francisco full time. He started judo when he was five and started Jiu Jitsu when he was eleven. He?s been at it a long time. He’s won a lot of championships under his belt. People don’t really know him. He’s not one to really promote himself.
OTM: Is there some interest that you might be fighting in Grappler’s Quest? GT: Yes, sounds fun. Grappler’s Quest sounds cool because it’s a nice opportunity for fighters. It’s a nice program. You get a little money, get a ticket, and get appreciated. When I go to tournament I have to pay. It’s cool to be able to put on a show and make a good fight. I love to fight there.
OTM: Do you like the submission, kind of grappling stuff with out the Gi? GT: I like it, its natural for me. The Gi, it was work. I had to forget wrestling and try to be a Jiu Jitsu guy. Of course, it changes when I’m at tournaments, I have to fight to win, but I really like the submission thing because it’s so free, you hustle and it’s fast. I like it because on my feet the guys can’t hold me finally, you know what I mean. When I go to the Jiu Jitsu tournaments the guys are holding me, locking me out. It’s frustrating and so I really don’t know what to do sometimes. But, without the Gi I can attack the legs all the time.
OTM: In your fights do you prefer to play on top or do you prefer to play guard. GT: For sure fight on top. With these stumpy little legs do you think I have a guard. I try my best and work hard to have a guard. But it is definitely not my preferred position, because I am not really flexible. I can’t play off the top of my head, I can’t close a triangle. When I have to show triangles, I have to get one of the little guys in the room to show triangles. But I can’t close a triangle, so for sure, I prefer to be on top. Just for my sense of fighting, if your thinking of Jiu Jitsu as an expression of real fighting, for sure it is better to get a takedown pass the guys guard, dominated from the top position. It is pretty much proven in NHB that is the better thing. You have to be able to play bottom too because there is a lot of guys who can only tackle and ride the top and can’t play the bottom. You’ve got to have both sides.
OTM: Tell us about your nickname, how did you get that? GT: Which one?
OTM: All of them. GT: You mean the Mountain. The first US Open, the announcer is kind of a funny guy and I have known him for a while. All my friends are up in the stands and this guy starts calling me Man Mountain out there and that’s it. I never got rid of that one.
OTM: Tell me some of the other ones. GT: Some of the other ones I ain’t telling you. I want to let those others die.
OTM: Any sponsors you want to thank or anything else you want to add? GT: Krugens Kimono’s USA takes good care of me. They sent me to Europe last year to fight in the European championships and they helped send me to Brazil last year so I want to thank them a lot. They have done a lot for me. They make a real good Gi, so check them out. I also want to thank Gamness and Walker. He’s looked after me. He has some good stuff. I hope the people in the Jiu Jitsu world will support him because he is definitely supporting Jiu Jitsu. He’s not making a lot of money, he makes a good product and he’s down for everybody’s Jiu Jitsu. I hope people start buying his stuff and supporting him because he is supporting us.