Chachorrao, translates to ‘Big Dog’ in English. His real name is Ricardo Almeida. He is Renzo Gracie’s top Black Belt. He is Renzo’s top sparring partner and he has helped Renzo prepare for his most recent victories. We caught up with him while he was in town working out with the guys from Gracie Barra for the Abu Dhabi trials. He’s what he had to say. Chachorrao, translates to ‘Big Dog’ in English. His real name is Ricardo Almeida. He is Renzo Gracie’s top Black Belt. He is Renzo’s top sparring partner and he has helped Renzo prepare for his most recent victories. We caught up with him while he was in town working out with the guys from Gracie Barra for the Abu Dhabi trials. He’s what he had to say.
OTM: How long have you been training in NYC with Renzo?
RA: I moved to America three years ago.
OTM: How do you like it?
RA: I love it there, I miss these guys here I miss this place and the environment. Renzo is such a great guy. He is the best teacher to me.
OTM: What are the differences between training in NY with Renzo and here in Barra?
RA: I’d say definitely the number of good guys is more here (in Barra). There (in NYC) we have some good guys Renzo, Rodrigo, Mack, and Nick. But over here you walk on the mat and at any time and there are like 15 black belts, 10 brown belts, and 20 purple belts so the variety of training is much better.
OTM: When you come back from NY to Barra do you feel like you have lost anything? Do you feel like you game is any less?
RA: Well, the only thing is with the gi, that is the only thing I need to catch up on because these guys are always training with the gi and they are coming up all the time with lots of new stuff. Definitely I have learned a lot more since I’ve moved up there (NYC) because Renzo is such a great teacher. I also started teaching, I think I have more time to really understand about Jiu-Jitsu. Before I used to be fighting more by instinct because I trained for so long and so hard, but now I really understand the “why’s and how’s” of the positions. When you teach someone it’s not just like laying down on the mat and doing the move. You have to really try and guide the guy as to what he is trying to do, and teach him what the move is really all about and the variations. It’s not just like an arm lock, you have to show him all the different ways to do the move.
OTM: All the guys we’ve been interviewing say that you are bring back all the best new moves for no kimono and you are the best guy to train with, how do you feel about that?
RA: These guys are the best and they just like me too much. I have been training without the gi a lot with Renzo. I am also doing some wrestling. Just like when I get here they share with me the moves with the gi, training with out the gi is something I’ve been doing a lot more. So it’s not that I know more than them, it’s just my body is more adapted to that game and they are more adapted to the gi game. I bring something and they teach me a lot too, it’s fun. When I started training they were purple belts and they were 100 times better than me, and they still are, they are a lot more experienced than me. It’s fun to be able to come back and show moves to guys I really look up to.
OTM: What is going on with you and Abu Dhabi?
RA: I don’t have to fight in the trials. I fought the first two years. The first year I took second place loosing to Sperry. I took third the next year and I am fighting up one weight class. I fight up to 217 lbs and i am only 190 lbs. I think the prince likes my style of fighting. Even if I am loosing I am still looking to finish the guy. I think that is what he is looking for guys who want to make a good fight. There are guys who don’t try to finish, just points I don’t believe he likes this kind of fight.
OTM: I remember when you beat Rigan, there was a lot of talk on the internet can you tell a little about that fight.
RA: I was kinda disappointed, because I had just lost to Murilo. I had a sweep and had a take down on him in the first five minutes and he had a takedown on me in the last five minutes which is when you score the points. So I ended up loosing. I think those rules are good, so I am not complaining. I am just making a little description for you. It was the next day I was just hanging out watching the fights, relaxing with Soca, Saulo and Royler eating a sandwich. Rigan had just lost to? Murilo had just lost to Saulo, so Murilo wasn’t feeling good and so he said he was not going to fight. So the guys say “so what Rigan is going to just take third place?” Then Royler said “Cacharroa you got to go!”. I was like “no way, I am eating and drinking I don’t have trunks.” So the guys, Rolyer, Soca, Saulo, Dracalino said “ca’mon, ca’mon you have to go ” and then Soca came over with the shorts. I went down and Rigan was already on the mat. So I went down in the locker room put on the shorts, and ran to the mat. We fought and I ended up having a very good match. It was something interesting because it was totally unexpected. Rigan was a guy who I always heard about growing up, he is from Barra and such a great fighter. He is Carlinho’s cousin. So it is something that I will always remember because of the way it happened. I had lost already and not expected to fight.
OTM: Tell us a little about your fight with Sperry.
RA: I think it was a turning point in my fighting career. I had just gotten my brown belt, I had my brown belt less than a year. Sperry was a guy who was black belt before I even started training. He was like 35 lbs heavier than me, it wasn’t like 6 or 7 minute fight, it was a twenty minute fight with a much heavier guy. I had lacked experience, I was really nervous when we started to fight, but then every time we would roll I would end up in a good position. So I started to get more comfortable in the fight and I think I had a good fight. In the end, Sperry was getting tired and Renzo told me to hold back for the over time which would be ten more minutes. The way it happened it was good it was not my time to beat such a big name. It was good that I was able to do so well, I swept him it was like a twenty minute fight. He passed my guard once and got a take down. That is why he won at the end he got a take down. It was good for me to fight a guy with such a big name and so much experience and see that I was able to do well. It builds my confidence a lot. I think it was something good.
OTM: When did you get your Black Belt?
RA: The guys here at Barra they don’t care too much about the belts. Like my brother he is still a brown belt, but he beats everybody he has to beat in the brown belts and people wonder why he is not black belt. Carlinhos is such a smart teacher, he knows the right timing. I think Renzo did the same thing for me he held me through brown belt. I might have had the technique at some point but I didn’t have the maturity yet. Even before I got my Black belt I had fought Sperry, Murilo and Rigan. I got my black belt right after that. It was very good experience for me. On the next day after I beat Rigan, we went on the boat trip for everyone at Abu Dhabi, and they threw me off the boat. Then Renzo threw me the belt in the ocean. I never got to wash my belt and it still has some salt in it. It was very cool for me.
OTM: What do you think of the rules right now for Abu Dhabi?
RA: I think they are good. They have very important parts about stalling, but it is not really clear. I know now you can’t sit your guard or you loose some points. I think the rules might cause some problems for the Jiu-Jitsu guys and the wrestlers. Of course they have to do something that is not only good for the Jiu-Jitsu guys and not only good for the wrestlers. There will always be some turmoil because of the differences of the styles. But I believe it is good. This no points system. I like it.
OTM: Have you changed your game any to work with the rules?
RA: This year I am practicing a lot more my take downs, because I lost to takedowns to Sperry and Murilo. I lost both years to takedowns. Before my game was no matter where I was, I would try to finish the guy. So like if the guy would shoot to my legs I would try to grab the guillotine and jump to the guard. That is how I got scored on. So now I try to focus more on the awareness of the score, it takes away a little of my style. But it is what you have to do to win. I want to win.
OTM: Tell us about your first Vale Tudo fight.
RA: It was with a Russian guy. He had one of those names with one vowel and a thousand consonants. He was a sambo guy. Very tuff guy. When I started, I had a good shot, but he was hard to take down. I think he expected me to take him down. He was expecting me to grapple him so he was holding me in like a head lock. So I was basically taking my time not wanting to stand up because he could knee me. He went to my back really quick, I spun to put him in my guard but he got right to my back. Then when I was I wasn’t going to get to my guard I stood up with him holding around my waist. I was waiting for him to let go and try to hit me but he didn’t. I couldn’t get him to let go because of the gloves. So I rolled forward to try to put him back in the guard because he was holding me. Then his leg ended up in between mine and I went for a foot lock and switched to a knee bar. I got him with the knee bar. It was like a really good experience for me with the adrenaline and the clarity. It’s not like you hate the guy. Definitely something I will do again.
OTM: In California we having problems with the boxing commission, sounds like things are going a lot better in New York.
RA: In long island, we have some kickboxing events and they put some some fights in. We have open hand, knee strikes, kicks to the head, but no elbows. The promoter has the approval for the boxing commission, we use the right gloves and it is always high level fighters. The fights are not like beginners, so it’s not bloody fights. We don’t have huge 230 lbs guys just there to beat each other up. It is run real good, always full house and they show on ESPN. It’s run by Lou Niglia, he is a very famous kick boxer.
OTM: Do you have any tips for the gringos on picking up Brazillian girls?
RA: Brazilian girls are very friendly, just come down and talk to them as much as you can. There will always be girls around that speak English. It is easy to have a good time.
OTM: Is there any thing you’d like to add?
RA: Just tell the guys to keep training hard and forget about the distance between the academies and have a good time. Come down to Brazil, come check out Gracie Barra, cause these guys are the best guys in the world. I’d like to thank Howard Combat Kimonos and down here in Barra, The Loft.
Cachorrao is back in New York with Renzo. He is teaching in New York and three days in New Jersey with Renzo. In the middle of all his training he is also studying to get his degree in Business from Rutgers University.
Cachorrao is a great guy to hangout with. Him and his brother look like a couple of human Gargantuans. They are both huge and in great shape. The guys at Barra love all the new no gi moves and attacks he brought back from Renzo. We learned a lot watching them train. Check out the up coming interview with Sperry where he gives his side of the fight with Cachorrao. Sperry really respects this up and coming fighter. We want to wish him the best luck in Abu Dhabi. Keep training! We’ll be back soon.