In this pre IFL interview, Marcio Feitosa discusses his experience at the 2006 Mundials as well as his thoughts and expectations about competing in MMA. Marcio Feitosa is currently the head instructor at the Gracie Barra America school in Lake Forest (www.graciebarraamerica.com).I. Thoughts on the Mundials 2006
Kevin Howell: This is the first year that you returned to compete at the Mundials since 2003, what was it that made you decide to come back to compete at this level?
Marcio Feitosa: I always wanted to compete, but the only reason that I ever stopped competing was when I came to the US to open the Gracie Barra School in Lake Forest. So, for a while I could not return to Brazil because of my immigration papers and the work that was needed at the school. Now, I will be competing a lot more, because I have some very good students to help and there are 4 blackbelts at the school that teach. Because of the student leaders and coaching from Carlos, Andre, and Piu-Piu, I am able to train more with the students than just teach. This helps with my preparation.
KH: Was this your first year competing at Pena?
Feitosa: Actually, I was Pena when I first got my blackbelt, but when I gained weight and got older I moved up to Leve. To get back to Pena I had to diet and work really hard to get back to Pena. The reason I went to Pena is because I thought I had the best chances of doing well at Pena. The Leve looked super tough this year! I do not enter tournaments just to “have fun”, I enter to win. I won 4 matches and I lost the last one to a very good guy, so I know I made the right decision to enter Pena.
KH: Did you feel strong at Pena?
Feitosa: For ADCC last year I dropped more weight, I went down to 65 kilos instead of 67 kilos for Pena. It was an easier drop and I was able to feel better. I feel really good at this division. KH: Speaking of the actual tournament, what happened to your head? You had a rather large “Robocop” style bandage around your head!
Feitosa: In one of my matches I went for a double leg and I got a cut between my ear and head that opened when my folded over. The cut wasn’t too bad, but it did bleed. At first I had a smaller bandage but it kept bleeding and you are only allowed to bleed twice before you are disqualified. That is why I got that huge bandage! Nothing was going to bleed through that thing!
KH: Walk us through your final match against Rubens “Cobrinha” Charles.
Feitosa: What happened is that I usually fight from the top and in this tournament I was pulling everyone into my guard. My strategy was that in the Pena it is easier to sweep the person than pass the guard; everyone scrambles and moves so much from the guard that I thought it would be harder to score by passing the guard. This strategy worked for three of my fights, but it did not work for Cobrinha. With Cobrinha, my strategy was wrong. I pulled guard, he got to a good position, and I had to work so hard to recover. When I pulled guard again, he got to a good position again. I had to use a lot of energy while he was on top and he felt like he was not getting tired when I was running out of gas. He was just moving so quick I could not follow it! He has a great game, but now I know I did not use the right strategy.
KH: Did he surprise you?
Feitosa: He surprised me with the guard pass, but I knew he was very good because I saw his fights, and he submitted everybody. Definitely he surprised me with the guard pass. I felt good with my guard, I was sweeping everyone, but he was very quick with the pass.
KH: In the finals, you got caught in a good armbar, were you worried and how did you escape?
Feitosa: Yeah, it was tight! But if he had it, I would tap – I would not hurt myself. It was almost there, but for a little bit it was not there. For 20 seconds, my arm was extended, but I was able to brace just enough with my other wrist to hold it off. If he could have extended it an inch more, I would have tapped.
KH: Also, Mario Reis just joined Gracie Barra, any comments?
Feitosa: I did not get to train with him because I was stuck in a hurricane before I arrived in Brazil. But some friends told me he was training every night and that he liked training with all the blackbelts. Mario is a great competitor and he has a great school, so I am happy to see him here. He definitely came to make the school stronger.
KH: This Mundials had some great matches and competitors, was there anyone in particular that you enjoyed watching?
Feitosa: One of my favorites is Roger because he uses basic positions and makes really good guys look like white belts. Everything is basic, basic guard passes, basic mounts, etc. Other than Roger, I like Marcelo Garcia because he is very technical and Andre Galvao and Bibiano because they are so aggressive. But, my favorite is Kyra, because she is so beautiful!
II. Thoughts on the upcoming IFL debut
KH: How did you get invited to the IFL?
Feitosa: Actually I do not train in MMA, and I was not interested in fighting anytime soon, but this is different to me because I am representing Renzo’s team. When Renzo called, it felt different. It was not like being called by a promoter to fight, it was more like a friend calling up to tell you “hey, let’s go fight these guys”, like a brawl. So it is more like a brawl and I am going over there to brawl. It is like Barra 20 years ago.
KH: How are you currently training for this in California?
Feitosa: After I recovered from the Mundials, I got in touch with Gordo and Babalu and they introduced me to Joker from the Tapout crew. Joker is a really nice guy and he has a MMA school that I train at every morning. He has helped my standup and clinch fighting so much. Other than that I am also still training jiu-jitsu every day at the academy. Babalu has been a lot of help too. He is one of the leaders at the gym and he helps with all the little pointers. He inspires everyone, he is there everyday and is always the first to arrive and the last to leave.This weekend I leave for New York and I will stay at a camp created by Renzo, where the five of us on Team Renzo as well as Renzo (who will be fighting separate from the team in the Main Event) will go at it for a month and prepare each other for our fights. Ricardo Almeida will be our head coach, so we will be in good hands.
KH: It is probably assumed that as a BJJ fighter you will come in with weak standup skills; how would you rate your standup?
Feitosa: I have trained before under Claudio Coehlo and I am confident that I know what it takes for him to hit me. I may not be the best puncher, but I understand what he will need to bang with me. It will be harder for him to stop my takedowns if I want to.
KH: How do you see yourself winning?
Feitosa: It will be hard for him to hit me and I think I will get the submission on the ground.
KH: What do you know about your opponent?
Feitosa: He is a very good fighter and has a lot of experience. He has good hands, likes the ground game, and he has some tattoos! I think his game is that he will try to knock me out on the feet and I will try to submit him on the ground.
KH: Sounds like a classic striker v grappler.
Feitosa: No, he has a BJJ background, but I do not think he can survive on the ground with me.
KH: Win or lose, what is your future in MMA?
Feitosa: My main focus is teaching, but this has always been the same – even when I compete a lot. Besides that, I want to keep competing in everything – BJJ, submission wrestling, and MMA.
KH: Some of your former competitors, Royler Gracie and Shaolin Ribeiro have had some success in MMA, do you look to them for inspiration?
Feitosa: They are both inspirational, but Royler especially. I understand how tough it is to challenge the new generations and Royler was competing with and without a gi into his 40s and winning. His successes in MMA make Royler that much more inspirational. Renzo though is my biggest inspiration for jiu-jitsu, MMA, and teaching. He has a beautiful school in Manhattan, and just training with Renzo for a month is worth the fight for me. Renzo is a very special guy.
KH: Tell us about your previous MMA match in Japan.
Feitosa: For this fight I did not train any punching or kicking. I had just competed in the Worlds and competed against Rumina Sato and Caol Uno in submission, so the promoters heard about me through my win against Sato and asked me to fight Mishima – who is still competing in MMA. I had 3 weeks to get ready, so I trained with Renzo and Ryan. I only trained about ten days.The turnout of the fight was great. I used a lot of jiu-jitsu, I got a good sweep and an omoplata. We had a draw at the end.
KH: Any lessons from that fight?
Feitosa: Yes, the feeling of getting ready to get punched and kicked. I found out that even though I do not have a lot of MMA experience, I was able to transfer my experience from BJJ to get my mind ready. My 100+ BJJ matches as a blackbelt helped a lot and I believe they do prepare you to see clearly and control your emotions.
KH: What weight will you fight at?
Feitosa: 155 lbs, but the weigh in is 24 hours before, so I will be strong for the match. It will be easy to recover.
KH: How do you control the fear in fighting MMA?
Feitosa: A long time ago, BJJ competitions were a matter of honor and everyone fought their rivals at 110%. I learned a lot about dealing with fear through this experience. It was very intense. I do not get the same feeling of stress for this fight as I did during that time. Back then, if I lost, I felt like my whole world was collapsing. Now, I understand more about winning and losing and the fact that this is a sport. I think this is what lets me remain calm. I am mature enough to face defeat or win. I respect my opponent and I am preparing like he is the best in the world and I am there to win. I hate to lose and this drives my competitive spirit.
KH: So is your mother upset about this?
Feitosa: (Laughing) She does not even know! If she finds out she will try to jump in the ring and stop the event! My mother lives across the street from Barra and she still yells at my friends who told me to fight last time! I will tell her about it right after I fight.
KH: Do you think there will be a big difference between the submission wrestling you are comfortable with and the MMA style submission game?
Feitosa: It is different, but I am a perfectionist and am learning a lot. I know that right now I am not at the top, but in time my techniques will get me there. It is just a matter of heart and effort.
KH: Thanks for the interview and good luck in your fight.
Feitosa: Thank you.