The ChuteBoxer and Macaco Gold Team’s representative and Sao Paulo native Gabriel “Napao” Gonzaga (5-1) TKO’d ATT’s Fabiano Scherner in UFC 60.With a mind totally free of the personal problems which did strike his preparations for UFC 56’s fight against Kevin “The Shaman” Jordan. The ChuteBoxer and Macaco Gold Team’s representative and Sao Paulo native Gabriel “Napao” Gonzaga (5-1) TKO’d ATT’s Fabiano Scherner in UFC 60. Gonzaga expressed his thoughts to OnTheMat.com after the fight. Check also the pictorial of Napao fighting Submission in Brazil- when he defeat the Olympic Wrestler, Antoine Jaoude, plus fights at ADCC Brazilian Trials 2005 and a contest versus the genius Marcelo Garcia; his Black-Belt Heavyweight GP conquest and his Jungle FC 2 match against behemoth Charlie Brown. DENIS MARTINS: First off- we know you had a personal problem before your UFC 56-Full Force(Nov. 2005) against Kevin “The Shaman” Jordan, where the health of your daughter was not good. How is she?
Gabriel “Napao” Gonzaga: She is pretty well now. DENIS MARTINS: This match against Schener was one more fight where you got to dictate the pace. Are you satisfied with your performance?
Gabriel “Napao” Gonzaga: Very glad. I trained a lot, and the result was a consequence of it. DENIS MARTINS: The UFC 56 was your first experience in an octagon. How did you adapt yourself at it?
Gabriel “Napao” Gonzaga: The experience was a little weird, I meant in a ring we have the corner (where we can reach the 90º of the place). Inside that octagon I met myself in a circle, it is hard to press the opponent (to corner him). But I got to control this anxiety. DENIS MARTINS: A lot of people questioned the way Scherner wanted to quit of the fight between R1 and R2. What’s your opinion about it?
Gabriel “Napao” Gonzaga: I think he’s a great fighter and we had a good match-up. Whether if he thought he should quit between R1 and R2 we would have respected his decision, because he knew (more than anyone) his limits and his conditions- only someone who’s inside the octagon knows it. He proved he’s a warrior and he deserves respect of all. DENIS MARTINS: Scherner seemed to be bigger than you at weigh-ins. But this wasn’t a problem for you who already faced super-heavyweight fighters in SHOOTO Brazil and Jungle FC 2. Do you’ve a natural talent to take this kind of challenge or is this an elaboration of a good game-plan?
Gabriel “Napao” Gonzaga: I search for work mentally and in the physical aspects to face these challenges. But into heavyweight division it’s common; the combatants are strong and heavy. And we need to elaborate a good strategy to face the giants. DENIS MARTINS: Did everything you plan against Scherner worked?
Gabriel “Napao” Gonzaga: I had a good game-plan on my mind to put in practice, nearly everything happened like I expected it to. However he was stronger and heavier than I imagined. DENIS MARTINS: Do you think you showed your all game on this fight?
Gabriel “Napao” Gonzaga: We stayed satisfied with the outcome and my performance at this fight. But I still didn’t show my all potential, I have to develop more and with my coaches to fix the mistakes. We need to keep the hard job to increase each time more. DENIS MARTINS: Scherner had kept himself training Muay Thai in Holland. Did you expect his on the feet action before going ahead of him? Or it didn’t worry you?
Gabriel “Napao” Gonzaga: I was a little worried, because he’s very strong and I knew he was training toughly at Holland. But I was confidence in my stand up trained with my team and I knew I’d be ready to hit the ground or to fight on the feet. DENIS MARTINS: In the past when a Brazilian fighter takes-off other one, the Brazilian fans and media talked a lot about it (taking it to the personal side). Do you think nowadays people already have conscience that the rivalry is part of the past?
Gabriel “Napao” Gonzaga: No doubts this is part of the past. The tendency of this sport is to have place only for the best, and we don’t have many countries on this sport yet. So people from the same country fighting each other at international events will be common DENIS MARTINS: Did you train at ChuteBoxe before you UFC 60’s fight?
Gabriel “Napao” Gonzaga: Yes, I did. I was very well received there and I had the honor of reaching instructions from Rafael Cordeiro and Rudimar Fedrigo. I tried to assimilate al of what they told me and I put in practice against Scherner. I have huge pride for defending the ChuteBoxe’s flag. DENIS MARTINS: You have an academy in US. How is it going?
Gabriel “Napao” Gonzaga: It’s going strongly, and we’re increasing a lot. We’ve 5 academies and we intend to start 3 more by the end of the year. We’ve 150 students and they are tough fighters. We’ve a main worry of forming new talents and its generating good results for us. I can mention you an example of it when our team took 4th place at last edition of NAGA World Championship in a tournament where there were 70 teams. DENIS MARTINS: I know you don’t care about this. But did your victory at UFC 60 erases your UFC 56’s performance?
Gabriel “Napao” Gonzaga: My debut at UFC was really affected by the personal problems I had, and I don’t wish it to anyone. But I don’t wanna talk about it anymore, it’s part of my past and it takes me down when I think about.
At UFC 60 I tried to prove to myself that I can figure between the best fighters of the World in my weight division, However I know that I have to keep working hard and show dedication on the trainings. I want to thanks UFC by their confidence on me, and I’ll train each time more and more to show great fights to the UFC fans. DENIS MARTINS: Scherner had declared he wanted to avenge his lose to you in last ADCC Brazilian Trials at UFC 60. Do you think it could’ve harmed his strategy into the fight? The excess of responsibility…
Gabriel “Napao” Gonzaga: Scherner is a nice guy and he’s professional, but all of us want to win. I was better than him, but I’m sure he’ll recover himself from this defeat and keep his head-up to prove he’s a good athlete. After the fight we talked each other and wished the best for each other. DENIS MARTINS: Did you believe you could finish him still in R1?
Gabriel “Napao” Gonzaga: I didn’t think on it in any moment, I was ready for three rounds of war. When the doctor made a signal with his hands (indicating Scherner couldn’t proceed) I did think I had won, but Scherner decided to go ahead… DENIS MARTINS: And now Napao. What do you think UFC have planned to you?
Gabriel “Napao” Gonzaga: I’ve no idea, this is the UFC’s jobto choose my opponent. I’ll keep my hard training and wait when Marco Alvan (Napao’s manager) calls to say that UFC is booking me a new fight. DENIS MARTINS: What did happen that you couldn’t fight against Brad Imes in UFN 4?
Gabriel “Napao” Gonzaga: To be sincere to you, I think this was a GOD’s act. HE takes me off from that UFN 4 to insert me at the biggest UFC ever made, with round 20000 eyewitness and 500000 at PPV. I had a small problem at US Embassy in Sao Paulo, and I had to go to Rio de Janeiro, and after it I couldn’t schedule an interview with them. Well, the lawyers of UFC worked on it and I got my visa. DENIS MARTINS: Last Words?
Gabriel “Napao” Gonzaga: I’d like to say thank you to my manager, friend and partner, Alvan. He supported me technically and psychologically when I needed to. He assisted me when I had financial problems in Brazil and it let me tranquil to keep training. He contracted the best wrestling and Boxing coaches of Massachusetts (Junior Williams and Clayton Robertson). I came to Ludlow-MA one month prior the fight and I had all structure needed to perform well and to conquer a victory results like I did at UFC 60. Like Alvan says, we don’t believe in lucky, we believe in tough work and dedication on the trainings.
I’d like to invite fighters and teams from New England’s and Connecticut’s area to make part of this project. Our team has a very good structure and in a short period of time we’ll be in the same level of the other great US MMA team.
My sponsor to thanks are Red Nose, NAGA(North America Grappling Association), Tatami Mats, IFight, Sport Shake and Kimonos Dragao. Thanks for the opportunity at OnTheMat.com