There are two reasons why you should know and love Brazilian MMA fighter Joaquim "Mamute" Ferreira: the first is that he is the only fighter to not only defeat UFC heavyweight mangler Junior Dos Santos, but finish him with a slick armbar; the second is that he is an old school Sepultura fan and the Cavalera brothers are what got him into fighting.You say you have no idea who or what a "Sepultura" is? You probably either get the senior discount on your McDonald's coffee, listen to Michael Bolton, or you're an avid badminton fan (not that there's anything wrong with any of those exemplary qualities).
Before we get into the interview, let's discuss Mamute's losses. A quick glance at his 8-3 record does not relate the full story nor reflect the talent that this young man exudes. He suffered his first two losses on the same night in the XFC tournament in Rio De Janeiro. He first engaged Andre Mussi to a grueling decision that most believed Mamute should have won, and as a testament to this, Mussi was unable to continue in the tournament finals because he was too worn-down and injured from Mamute's submissions. Exhausted himself, Mamute stepped up and took Mussi's position in the tournament finals later that evening against a man named Junior Dos Santos.Ten minutes in to the fierce battle, the referee halted the fight because Mamute's eye was damaged and swollen from his earlier fight with Mussi, and a disappointed Mamute left Rio De Janeiro with his first two professional losses--both in the same night.
Mamute handled this frustrating situation in the best possible manner. He hunted down rematches with Mussi and Dos Santos, and for his next two fights, Mamute submitted both fighters in the first round. Implementing his world class Brazilian Jiu Jitsu skills, Mamute only needed a few minutes to tap out all three of his following opponents in the first round. Unfortunately, at the apex of his blossoming career and as he began to gain notoriety, Mamute represented Team Brazil in the M-1 Challenge in Korea, and fell to the heavy punches of undefeated Hae Joon Yang in the main event.This loss crushed Mamute, and was one of the most heartwrenching times of his life (which he articulates thoughtfully below). Now using the pain of defeat as his fuel for success, Mamute is rejuvenated and more focused than ever. With the heartfelt assistance of his friend and manager, Doug Wilson, a new beginning lies just beyond the horizon for Mamute. He will be dropping from heavyweight down to 205 pounds, and is now on the brink of finally fighting in an American promotion.
_________________________________DW: The nickname “Mamute” means “Mammoth” in Portugese, correct? Why are you called this?
JF: "I gained this moniker in the start of my career. I always was strong and when I went to the academy for the first time to training Brazilian jiu-jitsu I just used my strength, because I didn't have knowledge in the technique. So someone on the mat said that I looked like an uncontrolled mammoth and it's with me since then."
DW: Tell me when and how you first began training in martial arts, and with whom?JF: "I started fighting because I always was a fan of the thrash-metal band Sepultura and its drummer, Igor Cavarela, did BJJ in a Gracie Academy, so I got interested and started a search for an academy. My first professor was Edmar "Di-Mola" Chagas, who already beat Antonio Rodrigo "Minotauro" Nogueira in a BJJ competition. After a few time I went to train with the master of my professor and ended up being a pupil of legendary Vinicius "Draculino" Magalhaes."
DW: What or who inspired you to become a fighter?JF: "The inspiration came in the day after day routine into the academy. This was people preparing for MMA, ADCC and the World Championships of BJJ - Mundials and World Cup - and I realized that was what I wanted for me."
DW: You train with some amazing fighters at the Gracie Fusion camp, such as Flavio Moura, Antonio Braga Neto, Pe De Pano, Rafael Dos Anjos, and Delson Heleno. What is it like training with such great fighters, and how much has this improved your skills?
JF: "Those guys are in Rio de Janeiro, and I do live in other state, Minas Gerais. We have three academies for the same team as this is Gracie Fusion-BH, where I train, Gracie Fusion-RJ in Rio de Janeiro, lead by Roberto "Gordo" Correa, and Gracie Fusion-SP in Sao Paulo, lead by BJJ World champion Celso Vinicius. I train here with excellent guys as IFC veteran Erick Wanderley, powerhouse Cristiano "Titi" Lazzarinni, undefeated Edson "Sururu" Jorge, Cassio Drumond, Mauricio Faccao and many others. The level here is high and the diversification acquired with the exchanges between the academies increase my game more and more."
DW: The Gracie Fusion camp came about when the teams of Roberto Gordo, Ryan Gracie, and Vinicius “Draculino” Magalhaes all joined together. Tell me how it was decided that all three teams would become one?
JF: "I think that the teams, Gordo JJ, Draculino and Ryan Gracie-SP were doing great and a way to be dominant in all competitions, MMA and BJJ, was to join forces as the leaders of these teams are long time friends. People started to travel to train in the others academies and others teammates came here and the evolution was significant in the positive results. Not just in MMA, but in submission and BJJ too."
DW: You are best known to American fans as the only man to ever defeat Junior Dos Santos. Explain how it feels to hold such an accomplishment now that “Cigano” is one of the best heavyweights in the world?
JF: "Of course this is very good. That's a great status you know. But I think that for every fighter all victories are important. When I noticed dos Santos was going to UFC, I talked to everybody that his stint would be excellent at the show. I'm rooting for him. I just didn't understand why he said to the press that I was lucky when I armbarred him, I didn't like it. Look, in the first clash we had, that was a slugfest during barely 10 minutes. The referee halted the fight because my eye was too much swollen and I couldn't see. This was because in the first fight in that night Andre Mussi hit my eye and it was not well, that didn't occur because I was mauled by dos Santos, no way!
In the second fight I subbed him under two minutes, if getting the nod this way is lucky, I want to be this lucky in all my next fights. If I was lucky, he does too with his wins. He wasn't tested enough in UFC; we need to see his ground game.
But you know, now I see that how it was that 'all for nothing' situation as I lost my last fight via terrible way. Fans that don't know me will look for the guy who subbed dos Santos and they'll see that I got caught by Hae Joon Yang, a 4-0 South Korean fighter, in ridiculous 14 seconds. You know, this is like you talk: 'What the hell! Why this happened?' And you ended up seeing yourself like a crap, because your last result wasn't good, was disgusting. I was representing the Brazilian squad at M-1 Challenge and that was a responsibility I took nicely. We had good coaches that elaborated the strategy, I studied the guy's game, as I ever do, and we believed he would repeat what was successful for him in his short career, but he didn't run over, and my game plan didn't work, I paid for changing my style extremely and Yang had his merits.
DW: I think it’s interesting that you suffered your first two losses on the same night in the XFC tournament to Andre Mussi and Junior Dos Santos, because you went on to avenge those losses in your next two fights by submitting both Mussi and Dos Santos. How did it feel to go back and finish the two fighters that had just beat you?
JF: "One week before fighting in XFC, I fought other show in Sao Paulo and faced a 6'7", 243 pounds and 11W-1L foe and this was my only win which went to the distance, all my seven ones are by KO or submissions. So I acted in a weekend, got my way to home and trained from Monday to Thursday, took a rest in the following days and travelled by car, around 4:30 hours, to Rio de Janeiro to fighting. These aren't excuses, these are relates of my live in that period, you know. This is like you talk to yourself: 'I'm 3-0, nobody knows me, I've no contract with any promotion, I need money and recognition, I need to fight,' this is the kind of reasoning, or excess of will to test yourself, whatever I went and fought. My coaches told to not go, but I went and I think this is a funny mess seeing this way, I'm a rare fighter, I lost twice in a tournament, did you hear about that? (laughs)
The fight against Mussi was controversial and who watched said I won, but the judges didn't see this way. I controlled him from the top position, pounding him and got the mount position twice. I only stayed on the bottom quickly as I swept and kept the pressure. I sunk an americana that popped his arm, this was the reason even he 'beat me' he didn't have condition of fighting the final match. Facing dos Santos after 9:45 minutes the referee stopped the fight, I really lost."
DW: Why do you think you were successful in your second fights with Mussi and Dos Santos?JF: "I didn't change many things to be sincere with you. But look, when the event's conception was formed, I realized I had opportunity of facing the two guys who beat me. No doubts, this motivated me, I compare those situation with achievements that an athlete has throughout his career. You see opportunities of gaining titles of proving you're better and I could prove that I was better than those guys who I lost to."
DW: Who are some of the heavyweight fighters that you feel are the best in the world? What fighters do you most enjoy watching?JF: "Emelianenko Fedor, Minotauro, I think he always will be the man amongst the men, Shane Carwin, dos Santos and Brock Lesnar. I like to see them in action."
DW: Do you pattern your style after any particular fighter?
JF: "My style is to submit people, because of that I believe my style is similar to Paulo Filho and Minotauro. Of course each one has its particularities."DW: After fighting at heavyweight, you will now be moving down to light-heavyweight. How difficult will it be for you to make this cut in weight, and how much do you think it will help your performance?
JF: "I'm not a tall guy, but my physique is huge and heavy - so if I don't have dedication in the diet, my weight can go high. I think the main difficulty is starving (laughs). I think my performance and endurance reach an excellent way when I have the correct training regime, not due to my weight. Very well trained I can fight both categories. Let's see how I'll perform as a light-heavyweight."
DW: What do you have planned for the future? Do you plan to fight in America soon, and if so, with what organization?
JF: "I've a manager, his name is Doug Wilson, very trustworthy person who's representing me outside Brazil. He's negotiating for me and I have a gigantic will of fighting in North America and we have chances of it happening in the first quarter of this year. I hope to see you all there. What I can say is that I'm ready to go, if he got a contract for fighting tomorrow, I'm in."
DW: Are there any American fighters in particular you would like to fight?:
JF: "In the heavyweight, I'd like to fight Brock Lesnar, I'd like to test my BJJ black-belt and my experience against him. I think he just was inserted in the game, he didn't reach by merits, he didn't fight against whom he should. In the light heavyweight I don't see anyone that I'd like to fight with, this will be my first fight as a 205 pounders and all type of challenges are welcome. But of course, I want to face the best."
DW: Any final comments, Mamute?
JF: "Thanks to The Garv.com's crew for the opportunity to show a piece of me, and I'd like to thank my sponsors Hammer Surf and Street Wear, Magazine Diniz and Maromba Suplementos, and my manager Doug Wilson."