What do Roger Gracie, Andre Galvao, Vinicius Magalhales, Otavio Souza, Rodolfo Viera, Marcus Almeida, Paulo Miyao, Erberth Santos all have in common?
They are ALL International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation (IBJJF) Brown Belt Open Class Champions.
For years the IBJJF has been the proving ground for the world’s elite Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Gi competitors. The crème de la crème of the Bjj World show up to test their skills from all belt levels, blue – black.
Epic stories are forged, battles are won, blood is shed, sweat is poured and tears abound in the room. These elite athletes train all year for this single moment, be going relationships, depriving themselves of food and doing everything that it takes in order to compete at their highest potential. And perhaps the most watched division aside from the Black Belts, is the Brown Belt Open Class. History has shown that the winners of the Brown Belt Open Division always become Black Belt Super Stars.
Now, Enter Mahamed Aly, the 2015 IBJJF Brown Belt Open Class Champion. We had a chance to sit down and talk with Mahammed and ask him a few questions, including his training with Lloyd Irvin Martial Arts and what he thinks about Bjj.
Here is a transcript of our phone interview:
OTM: Hello, Mahamed how are you doing today?
Mahamed: Great, Jacintho. Everything thing in life is going great. Just got done training with Master Lloyd Irvin and Tim Spriggs. Honestly, I’m a little tired hahaha!
OTM: I bet! First off, congratulations on winning the Mundials Open Division. Our readers wanted to know a little bit about you. Where were you born?
Mahamed: Thanks! I was born in Rio de Janeiro.
OTM: So then where in Rio de Janeiro did you grow up?
Mahamed: I grew up in the neighborhood Gardenia Azul.
OTM: How long have you been training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu?
Mahamed: My journey started in 2009 so for six years.
OTM: Where did you start your journey?
Mahemed: With Master Eduardo Brigadeiro at his training facility in Barra da Tijuca, Rio de Janeiro.
OTM: Did something happen to you in the past or did someone inspire you to start training?
Mahamed: I use to be skinny and wanted to be stronger… At first I started to train in kickboxing and Jiu-Jitsu later on. One day my friend invited me to do some MMA sparring. One of the guys there put me in a triangle choke… I felt bad because the guy submitted me without using much power. So I thought ‘’I have to learn this”
OTM: That sounds crazy. The best way to defend against something is to learn it. What made you decide to start training in the states?
Mahamed: The first time that I came to the USA was in 2013 to fight in the World Jiu-Jitsu Championship. I lost in the semi-finals against Jared Dopp. Master Lloyd Irvin watched a few of my fights and took a liking to me… He reached out to me on Facebook and next year in 2014 I came right from Abu Dhabi to do my camp for Worlds. I became world champion as a purple belt. After that I would come often for training and fights. Nowadays I think I stay here more than in Brazil.
OTM: That’s awesome. Master Lloyd Irvin is a great coach. What is it that you plan to accomplish in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu?
Mahamed: I just want to be the best I can in Jiu-jitsu. I want to write my name in the history of the sport. Wanting to have fun is very important and going up against the best guys in the world is key to becoming the best. I want to be a world champion as a black belt a few times.
OTM: You have quite the journey ahead of you! Especially if you are going to be the best there is in this sport. What was one of your most difficult obstacles to overcome in Jiu-Jitsu so far?
Mahamed: The hardest part of this is training with no money and not being able to pay for a competition. It is hard to train while hungry even harder to study, work, and train for years with no days off… When I wasn’t training I was working or studying with no social life. Training and fighting is the easier part of my life.
OTM: That sounds really difficult but you got through it all. If you got through all that and are still going strong then what has been your greatest accomplishment so far?
Mahamed: That would be this year, going double gold for world champion. This was the best moment in my career making me the best brown belt of 2015.
OTM: Recently I saw that you are now training in Maryland, full time, with Master Lloyd Irvin. What has that allowed for you to do?
Mahammed: Man, I can’t say enough good things about Master Lloyd and his fighter house. It is really a dream come true. I told how before that I used to worry about not just having money, but being able to eat, let a lone train or money to compete! The opportunity that Master Lloyd and his team have given me takes all the worries away! I don’t have to worry about money or day to day problems. I just focus on training. What more can a kid from Brazil ask for?
I get world class training and all of my living expenses taken care of so I can train. God has truly blessed me.
OTM: What do you feel is unique about training in Maryland with Master Lloyd over Brazil?
Mahammed: – It is different because here I can keep my focus on me. The athlete’s life here is way better than Brazil. Here I use the best supplements and work hard my conditioning. We brazilians don’t care about our body like the gringos, lol. I’m learning this here. Being far away from my family is very hard to so it make me stronger psychologically. I’m learning English and it is being a great experience for me. Not to mention that Master Lloyd’s drilling and teaching system is unique. The way he approaches training is more than just “hard” training. Everybody trains hard, but Master Lloyd trains us like a professional sports team. No practice is random. Everything is planned head of time.
OTM: That is wonderful to hear. But still, you have to congratulate yourself. Not everybody could get Gold at the Mundials, let alone Double gold!!!
Off the mat, what would be your greatest life achievement?
Mahamed: The best part about what I do is being able to get in a plane and explore the world. I could meet a lot of people around the world with no money. I just always had faith in my heart… Always doing what I love every day… I try to be perfect in all movements. I am very happy to be who I am. The best part is the pride for all my family and friends. Being world champion is just the result of hard work.
OTM: And dedication, which you are most definitely full of!
OTM: By the way, who are your favorite BJJ fighters?
Mahamed: I love the classic game of Roger Gracie. He shows that basic jiu jitsu can win you the fights at the highest levels. For speed and excitement, it has to be Jacare!
OTM: What are you favorite moves?
Mahammed: I love to play closed guard… But now I’m learning half guard and top game… Actually, I love BJJ, I will be happy in all positions
OTM: And finally what advice would you have for someone new in BJJ?
Mahammed: #1 is don’t be selfish. People forget that their training partners help them get better. In order to become great, you need to help people get great too.
#2 Don’t take any shortcuts. Life is hard. Training is hard. Be paitent. Poisoning your body with steroids will not get you anywhere and cause damage that you can never reverse.
OTM: Thank you so much for your time, Mahamed. We look forward to seeing you compete on the mat!
The future defineltey looks bright for this young competitor. Check out one of Mahamed’s favorite moves below!