Joao Pierini Interview

The article was written by Rick Caudle of sorry for the confusion.Although he has continued to compete in Jiu-Jitsu tournaments, Joao Pierini is returning to the cage after a four-year hiatus from Mixed Martial Arts.Losing to the high-flying Yves Edwards in 2002 at UFC 37.5, he is set to fight in the first official MMA event in California history, which also features Frank Shamrock v. Cesar Gracie and the long anticipated MMA debutof San Shou superstar Cung Le. It is a big card to be a part of, and I spoke to Joao about his love of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and his desire to put it to the test once again against Muay Thai stylist Doug “The Demon” Evans.

RC : I know you are originally from Sao Paolo, Brazil, how long have you been in America, and how do you like living in California?

Joao Pierini: I have been living and teaching in Half Moon Bay, California for about eight years. I enjoy Northern California very much.

RC: This is the first official Mixed Martial Arts event in the state of California, how does it feel to be part of MMA history?

JP: This is very big for me. I am very happy to be fighting at this even feel it is a gift and I am very thankful to the people who made it possible.

RC: I understand that you trained with Grand Master Pedro Hemeterio, a 9th degree Red Belt under Helio Gracie in Brazil. Who else have you trained with and how do you compare the training in Brazil to the training in America?

JP: My first instructor was Orlando Saraiza, whom I trained with for about three years. Then I moved into the city and trained for ten years with Master Hemeterio. The training in Brazil is really not too different, except people there usually have more time to devote, so they may train a little more often. Americans are sometimes busy with school or work, etc. But Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has grown a lot in America and there are many great teachers and students here now.

RC: You currently teach and train at your school, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu of Half Moon Bay in Northern California. Without giving away your strategy for the fight, what is your basic training regiment like?

JP: Of course, my ground fighting is strong, so I have been working very hard to improve my striking skills, with a lot of training in boxing and kickboxing, and incorporating the techniques into my Jiu-Jitsu. I have a lot of good coaches and students that are helping me prepare for this fight.

RC: Your only MMA loss was against a very tough opponent in Yves Edwards at UFC 37.5 in June of 2002. Yves landed a hard kick that sent you to the mat. There was speculation that you injured your wrist on the fall. What really happened?

JP: When I hit the mat, I was still alert mentally, but my left hand, wrist, and arm were numb and I could not continue. It took me about three months to heal from the damage, but since then, I have had no problems with it.

RC: You will be fighting an experienced kickboxer, Doug “The Demon” Evans on March 10th . Some fighters go into the ring cold; do you watch footage of previous fights or study your opponent in any way before a match?

JP: Yes, actually I have been watching videos of his fights and studying how he moves. He is a strong kickboxer with very good standup skills.

RC: At 6’2” and 170lbs, some would say you have the perfect Jiu-Jitsu frame, but if you could change one thing about your physique, what would it be?

JP: Honestly, I feel great at this weight and wouldn’t change anything about my body. I feel strong and healthy, and ready for this match.

RC: Besides Yves Edwards, who stands out in your mind as your toughest opponent to date?

JP: In 2001, I fought Nassor Lewis in Hawaii at the Warrior’s Class III. I finished him with a Rear Naked Choke, but he was extremely strong and unfortunately, I had not trained very hard for that fight.

RC: How has BJJ changed over the last ten years, and what direction do you see it going in?

JP: I think it has changed a lot, but in a good way. Many Americans have gone to Brazil and come back home with great skills. Of course, in the early days of Mixed Martial Arts hardly anyone knew how to fight on the ground. Americans have helped change Jiu-Jitsu because they wanted to be well-rounded fighters, which has been very good for the sport.

RC: Who are your favorite role models in mixed martial arts?

JP: Two of my biggest influences have been Rickson and Helio Gracie. I also really like Wanderlei Silva. He is a great fighter and has also done a lot for MMA.

RC: Also on the card that night, are a couple of MMA household names, Frank Shamrock and Cesar Gracie, as well as the very talented Cung Le. Are you excited about the line-up and do you care to share your thoughts and comments on these fighters?

JP: Yes, I am very excited to be included with this group. Frank (Shamrock) has a lot of experience and is a real professional. He is in excellent shape and it should be a real interesting fight. Cesar (Gracie) is a good coach, a good fighter, and trains very hard. Cung Le is very good also and should be great to watch.

RC: Which do you enjoy more, teaching or competing?

JP: I enjoy them both equally. I am happy as long as I am doing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

RC: Do you have any up and coming students that we should watch for in the near future?

JP: One of my students, Raul Castillo, is a Brown Belt with excellent ground and pound skills. He is extremely dedicated and is also a very good Muay Thai Kickboxer. He is fighting in another Strikeforce sponsored event on May 19th at the Civic Center Auditorium, also in San Jose, California.

RC: Do you have any advice for young folks who are interested in a career in MMA fighting?

JP: My biggest advice is to find the best instructor you can. This is most important.Training in MMA will build discipline, dedication, and respect. If you are a fighter, don’t fight in the street, fight in the ring.

RC: Thanks so much for the interview Joao, and I wish you the best of luck in your match next week. Is there anything you would like to add?

JP: I would like to thank Josh Thomson, Bob Cook, Gene Jackson, Raul Castillo, Eloy Ramirez, Tim Lacjik and everyone who has helped me train and prepare for this fight. Also, to my sponsors, Koral Kimonos and Submit Fighter TV for all their support. Please visit us at:

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Rick Caudle