Braulio_Estima_Exclusive_Interview

The bar for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in the sport of mixed martial arts has just been raised.

Braulio Estima, the man who recently tapped out heralded grapplers such as Andre Galvao, Xande Ribeiro, and Marcelo Garcia, will make his MMA debut in the Shine Fight Promotion's May 15th "Worlds Collide: Mayorga vs. Thomas" event.

We had an opportunity to connect with Braulio and ask him some questions about his grappling history, his first MMA opponent, what weight-class he'll be targeting, and how he is preparing for the leap into full-contact fighting.

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Needless to say, your BJJ credentials are extraordinary, and you are immediately thrust to the top of the distinguished category of MMA fighters who have entered the sport touting astounding sport Jiu Jitsu credentials. 

What made you decide to take the leap into MMA?  Did seeing the success that other decorated grapplers like "Jacare" and Demian Maia are experiencing have anything to do with your decision?

BE:  "I always love challenges. I usually set goals…targets to have something to go after. I’ve done well in my BJJ and submission grappling. I’ve won all the main events. So I felt I have the responsibility of representing my art in MMA scenarios like Demian, 'Jacare', Andre Galvao, Roger Gracie, 'Xande', and many others. We have all achieved a good level in our arts, and nobody else but us should wear our shield and represent our art out there." 

I read in another interview that this fight will be at a catch-weight of 175 pounds, and that you eventually plan on targeting 170 for the future.  Is that correct, and if so, how difficult of a cut is it for you to drop down to welterweight?

BE:  "Well, I always walk around at around 188 lbs., so I don’t think it will affect me much. I know guys drop down from 195 lbs, 190 lbs., down to 170. I want to see first how hard it will be to lose the weight to 175, and then I will try 170."

Rick Hawn turns out to be a dangerous draw for your first fight; not only because he is undefeated, but because he is also an Olympic-level competitor in Judo.  What do you know about Rick Hawn?  And do you feel his Judo credentials are a threat, or something that will simply move the fight to the ground where you excel?

BE:  "Rick Hawn is a great fighter, a tough guy. It’s been very hard to find opponents after winning the Abu Dhabi tournament. Only the top guys will step into the cage to face me. But I’m not expecting to fight easy guys anyway. I like to fight tough guys. I’m pretty sure the fight will end up on the ground somehow, regardless. But BJJ with punches to the face doesn’t work as well in the ADCC (laughs).  Let’s see what happens.

It sounds like you got hooked up with GSP and Rashad Evans when they came to train with Renzo, who you are very close to, and now you're preparing for your MMA debut at Greg Jackson's camp.  Tell me what the experience of training with some of the sport's top fighters has been like?

BE: "Man, I had a great experience training with Nate Marquardt, Cody, Shawn, and Elliot Marshall in Denver at Grudge.  After that, I got to train with Rashad and 'Cowboy' Cerrone in Albuquerque with Greg Jackson…it was great feeling. The guys are very tough. But the altitude killed me…man those guys must have extra lungs! (laughs). I can’t wait to go there again…I’m back there after a tournament in Abu Dhabi on April 19th."

Are they just passing along their knowledge of MMA to you, or have they also made an attempt to learn from your BJJ knowledge and technique?

BE:  "We exchanged knowledge and I learned a lot…I showed them a few of my good tricks." (laughs) 

What mechanics are you  working on specifically for your transition to MMA?

BE:  "I’m focusing a lot on my standup: punching, kicking, wrestling, and ground-and-pound. It’s a new universe... I feel like a white belt again sometimes." (laughs)

Do you find that there's any aspect of MMA that you've been able to pick-up quickly, and/or anything that's been especially difficult?

BE:  "I guess my understanding of the concepts of BJJ gave me a head start on the transitions. I’ve taught MMA in BJJ to many people throughout my career, so I had an idea of what I’m getting into. Now that I’m training only MMA, I feel very confident on the ground."

Out of all of your phenomenal grappling accomplishments, of which are you the proudest?  And I have an idea what your answer might be to this-- but which opponent that you've defeated in BJJ meant the most to you personally?

BE:  "Definitely the ADCC tournament. It was the apex of my career. I don’t get too personal with fighting, but the way I see things, an accomplishment is how many top fighters I beat in a tournament. The way the competition is, you just fight a top guy in the final. But this ADCC, I beat many top players in the same day, so that’s what I look at: the whole thing. In ADCC, I managed to tap Lovato, Andre Galvao, Marcelo Garcia, and Xande Ribeiro. I didn’t have a score against me the whole weekend, and I didn’t go to even one overtime period. Man, just thinking about it, I get emotional." (laughs)

Tell me what you envision of embarking on a career in MMA:  to have fun and compete, to try things out and see how it feels, or are you intending on being as dominant as you have been in grappling?

BE:  "I will go as far as I can get. Nothing like one step after another. I will dedicate my next few years of my career to MMA, so let’s see where I will get then."

Shine Fight Promotions is a very exciting new organization that many people are expecting big things from.  Why did you decide to sign with Shine Fights?  Were you negotiating with any other MMA organizations for your contract?

BE:  "Shine Fights is a very good organization. I’m very happy with the terms of the contract, as I can still fight in my BJJ tournaments. I want to grow together with Shine. And I will be the Shine Fights champion one day. I want that belt!"

Braulio, thank you again for taking time to participate.  Do you have any closing comments, messages to the fans, or any other comments to voice?

BE:  "I would like to say thanks to everyone that has supported me in BJJ, and now in MMA. All my training partners and coaches, sponsors, Keiko Raca, Manto, and Masaru. Thank you for the opportunity. I can’t wait for 'Words Collide: Mayorga vs. Thomas' in May!" 

Visit http://www.graciebarrabirmingham.com/

 

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