INTERVIEW: READY FOR THE NEXT HERO’S STAGE- GESIAS “JZ” CAVALCANTI
Early in August, FEG organized the second stage of HERO’S Gps (under 70kg and under 85kgs) at Ariake Colosseum, Tokyo – JAPAN. In that show, 11.900 eyewitnesses checked out fighters’ performance of the caliber of Kazushi Sakuraba, Don Frye, Semmy Schilt, Caol Uno, Alexandre “Pequeno” França Nogueira and many others. Furthermore they had a benefit of seeing the tenacity of ATT member Gesias “JZ” Cavalcanti. JZ knocked-out one of Japan’s hopes in Hiroyuki Takaya in less than 1 minute. A flying knee followed by hammer fists landed by JZ made Takaya sleep in the ring and flaunted JZ such as one of the favorites to win the GP in 10/9.
DENIS MARTINS: You had a long ring entrance at your last HERO’S’ fight(8/5). Was the reason for it because you knew you’d have a quick fight?
GESIAS “JZ” CAVALCANTI: (Laughs) No way, maybe unconsciously, but not at my head. I expected a long tough fight. Hiroyuki Takaya has proved he’s dangerous and had an iron chin when he beat the Lithuanian fighter Remigjius Morkevius(at HERO’S 3), who’s a K-1 Max competitor too. They traded strikes frankly and Takaya displayed his bravery by eating bombs and not going down. Another good tool of Takaya is the sprawl, so I expected a war against him.
DM: Well, but is there anything to comment about a 30 second fight?
JZ: The fight was quick, but I liked several movements I got to do in that short time. I was tactical early on that match. I waited for his initiative on the contest. I liked the way I walked on that opportunity, he tried to close the distance and he didn’t find me out for the first seconds. I kept all the fight’s control of that fight with jabs. So I reached the correct distance, faked another movement and I flew with my knee. Bang, I got him!
DM: You had two very different performances at HERO’S.While in the first one (HERO’S 5) you used your ground£, at this one against Takaya you dictated a quick pace on the feet and knock him out. Is this your intention in Japan, to surpass any expectation? JZ: I hope so. Not only in Japan, but in all fights of my career I’ll always be working to develop and make performances to surpass all at each fight.
DM: You’ve a bit different game than the rest of the ATTers- who prefer to take the fight down and submit. Do you believe that this is because of your natural talent or is it because your roots are inside Luta-Livre?
JZ: Not just from Luta-Livre, but from Team Sensei too. Since my early days in this fightworld I already “brawled” in the academy, our trainings were pure rock. I was a kid who already had cuts at my face and nose after the trainings(laughs). Of course we had responsibility too, and we’d not go ahead if those small injuries were serious. But I loaded all that experience and I’ll never forget that culture acquired in the early days I started my trainings until my last days. Nearly all fighters from ATT came from BJJ and they only started MMA here, so you can realize our development at our last fights. Jorge Santiago knocked out Justin Levens out at UFN 5; Denis Kang did the same to Murilo “Ninja” Rua at Bushido 11, Rafael Diaz did it too at ACF-“Exodus” and Wilson Gouveia schooled, on the feet, Keith Jardine at R1 of TUF 3 Finale, however Gouveia didn’t win. But he lost by decision and had an injury on his leg, if it hadn’t happened, Jardine would not take that pace imposed by Gouveia.
DM: Do you believe the HERO’S fans already identify themselves with your style?
JZ: The Japanese audience is always friendly, so I don’t know if they already identified to me or if they do it because they’re real fight lovers. At the day after my fight against Takaya, I went to the hotel’s lobby and a lot of fans already had the picture of the fight impressed to give me like a gift, I don’t know how they do that. Anyway this is good to see our work being recognized by the fans; they respect me like a fighter and not like a winner. I meant, if I lose or win, it doesn’t matter at all, the Japanese fans are always at your side, be sure of that. I hope to answer them at this same level with my fights.
DM: Takaya is a ShootBoxing athlete, and the competitors of this Association are huge strikers. So, didn’t you believe on his tools on the feet or did you just take advantage of a perfect moment?
JZ: My intention was to trade punches against him, to feel him and to see how the fight would develop. I had trained a lot of muay thai and boxing, so I didn’t duke him, I just wanted to test my striking ability. The trainings I had at Alkmaar GYM with DRAGO(K-1 Max semifinalist), Kass Yakut, Charron, Edwin Van-Os and with our muay thai and boxing coaches Ouali Mohamed and Howard Davis are really sharpening my knees, hands and legs. Of course I can’t let to mention the conditioner, BENKEI, who does his special formula over us, and we go to the ring in excellent cardio condition. I dedicated my victory at HERO’S 6 for him, who celebrated his birthday one day after that fight.
DM: I know you since your beginning at Martial Arts in ground competitions, and know you’re playing with flying-knees, this is really surprising for me. But, how does this idea come and how was this developed? JZ: (Laughs) You’re old, you saw me at Luta-Livre andsubmission competitions around year of 2000. DM: (Laughs) Okay, okay, not too old- but getting old.So answer my question.
JZ: I’ve trained this during long time. I’ve tried to learn everything I can, so with good instructors I’m developing more than anyone can think about. Charron, a Thai citizen who coaches the squad of Alkmaar GYM is one of the guys that polished my knees and kicks. He tries to teach the perfection of each technique. Ouali, other guy I mentioned above, watched one of the Takaya’s matches and worked a huge knee from the clinch. But at the backstage of HERO’S 6 I had a chat with Melvin Manhoef (winner of quarter-final of HERO’S6 at lightheavyweight division GP) and I showed him the knee from the clinch, and he told me about the possibility of a flying-knee, and I replied him that I had the same idea and that was popping at my mind. Thanks to God I was focused enough and took advantage of the gap that Takaya made. DM: About the other competitors of your division; tell us your impressions.
JZ: All of them can be very dangerous, each one of them have the strong points. But I do prefer to see all the future good opponents I can have such as an opportunity of showing what I’ve trained, what I’m and what I can develop. So we can fit our pace and to do the best possible. Rani Yahya has a superb ground-game, Caol Uno is the most experienced, and Ivan Menjivar is a complete fighter. I’m here to show what I can do.
DM: HERO’S booked you against Yahya at the semifinals.Tell us your thoughts.
JZ: Unfortunately they booked us at the semifinals. This would be very good if we battle at the finals, but this is part of the sport and we can’t avoid this.
DM: Do you think HERO’S did this to avoid two Brazilians in the grand final?
JZ: I don’t know, but they guaranteed a Brazilian at the finals. And this fact motivates me to win the whole tournament and put the Brazilian flag on the top of the World.
DM: How do you see Yahya such as your semifinalist opponent?
JZ: Yahya is a nice guy and the two times we were at HERO’S we stayed in the same room on the backstage, the environment was superb. Like a fighter he’s an excellent grappler and displayed a very competitive ground for MMA. I don’t like to let the fans only with the expectative, because of this I’m training hard and when the showtime begins, I’ll give my best possible and God will act…
DM: Next stage of HERO’S Middleweight GP will be at 10/9 and the formula will be two fights in same night. What will you change into your preparation and how do you face this kind of event for the first time ever into your career?
JZ: I don’t change anything at the trainings, only my psychological side has to be in perfect condition to advance at the tournament. I’m ready to advance and I’m glad with this first opportunity of fighting a tournament in my career. This is a new challenge in my life and this does stimulate me and makes to train with more will-power. DM: You left Brazil named Gesias Cavalcanti, so the Americans inserted the nickname JZ, and the Japanese fans re-named you like JZ Calvan. What’s the main reason of this?
JZ: The troubles of pronouncing my name, my full name isn’t an easy task to be spelled outside Brazil. Din Thomas nicknamed me JZ because once the rapper Jay-Z was playing a song on the radio and I started on dancing, so Thomas inserted it between my first and last name(laughs), so here in America they already had cut my name to JZ CAV. But when I arrived in Japan they “assassinated” it, I don’t know the reason of CALVAN. I hope with more time they can use more correct name.
DM: Do you think people think these names are from different fighters?
JZ: I agree, and this is bad for the popularization of my trademark (laughs). In Brazil, for example, a lot of fans saw these names “JZ CAV” or “JZ CALVAN” and don’t have any idea that I’m Brazilian fighter. But like I said, I hope they can change it correctly and associate my good fights with my right name (laughs). To tell you the truth, the name doesn’t change what I have to display fighting. DM: Thanks you very much for your time JZ Cav, JZ Calvan or whatever you’re named now(laughs). Would you like to add anything else?
JZ: Thanks to God, my family, at the friends, the ATT’s family, to all fans who’re following me and rooting for me and to the Sinister Brand (www.sinisterbrand.com) which is supporting me. To dream is so important how to have a heart in our lives. To dream is what we’re. Because of this I talk, to fight is not only what I do, it’s what I’m. Money, applauses and awards are important; however we only reach it with hard work and love. I never step on a ring alone, because, there, with me, it’s the presence of all who believe in a dream. And this is what gives us strength to proceed.