MW: What are the qualities you think one should possess to become a successful jiu-jitsu fighter?
RD: Dedication, discipline, will. Of course talent is important, but hard work beats everything. I personally never believed I was a talented fighter, but rather very committed to my passion.
MW: Not only have you won the World Championships in Jiu jitsu several times, but two years ago you also won the most prestigious title without the kimono: the absolute division at ADCC. How did that feel compared to your previous accomplishments on the Jiu-jitsu mats?
RD: It’s one of those things you only dream about. I never thought I’d be that guy winning the open. To me personally, winning the Jiu-jitsu worlds was incredible, but winning the ADCC was just another level. It did a lot for me professionally and it really built my confidence to an even higher level. It’s a great privilege to even be part of this group of fighters.
MW: If you look at all the ADCC champions over the years, with very few exceptions most are Jiu-jitsu fighters. Why do you think this art is so successful even without the kimono?
RD: Part of it can be explained through the gi training. The gi is harder and more technical to train in. But on top of that, ADCC is very popular among Jiu-jitsu players. Not so popular amongst Wrestlers, Sambo fighters and Judokas for example. It is a few in every Jiu-jitsu gym, but most wrestling clubs haven’t even heard of it. So I think the sport has a long way to go as far as its popularity.
MW: Do you consider yourself better with or without the kimono?
RD: I’ve done most of my training with the gi. But for some reason I’ve always, since bluebelt, done better without it. I guess my gi game is very no-gi oriented.
MW: Do you have any fight that you consider the most memorable?
RD: I remember the final of the state championship in São Paulo in 2001. I won the open as a purple belt. It was a huge day for me… Also the worlds as purple… my first black belt world title. And of course the open of the ADCC in 2007.
MW: Now that you have only one fight to focus on, has your training routine changed anything in preparation for this fight? Could you tell us a bit about your preparations for the upcoming superfight against Jacaré?
RD: Of course I had Roger in mind so a replacement on such a short notice is unexpected. But I’m happy to go against him. Of course the strategy will change a little, but my dedication in training has only increased.
When I first found out about Roger I was a little bummed out. But now I’m excited about going against Jacaré.
MW: I know that you are a bit disappointed with the development of the competition scene in jiu-jitsu. What do you think could be improved and how could that be accomplished?
RD: Changing the rules and time limit would be a big step. Try to make the matches more dynamic would draw more people to watch Jiu-jitsu. Also, changing the format might draw other communication vehicles to follow the support. This would draw more sponsors in making the life of fighters much better. Jiu-jitsu is the only sport in the world where you become one of the top ten in the world and that means nothing professionally: no prize, no sponsors, no exposure. Jiu-jitsu tournament are restricted to a few Jiu-jitsu fans around the world that are passionate about the sport.
MW: Some people are trying to turn Jiu-jutsu into an Olympic sport, which of course would be great, but the rules are not exactly viewer-friendly. How would you like the rules to be changed to make the sport more exciting to watch?
RD: Make the matches 5 or 6 minutes long. That would make them more dynamic and the fighters would be attacking a lot more.
Also, reward submission attempts. It’s crazy that knee on belly is worth 2 points, a near sweep an advantage and a tight armbar nothing… It’s all wrong. The whole point is the make your opponent tap.
MW: I also heard in another interview that you wont be entering the big jiu-jitsu competitions anymore because you feel that you are done with that and that you have accomplished what you wanted already. Don´t you consider the absolute category in the World championships of jiu-jitsu worth going for?
RD: Absolutely, and that title will be always missing. But after thinking a lot about all of this I came to the conclusion that no matter how much you accomplish, there will always be more. There will always be that one tournament that you never won or that one guy you never beat. I just didn’t want to spend the rest of my life competing in Jiu-jitsu tournaments when I wasn’t getting anything out of it professionally. I wanted to move on and meet new challenges.
MW: As many other successful Jiu-jitu fighters you have also entered the MMA scene. Could you tell us about your future plans. Do you have something booked already?
RD: I made my debut last October, but due to some health issues I haven’t been able to fight, but I’ll be fighting again soon. It’s just an obstacle I must overcome.
MW: Do you have something else you want to say to all your fans out there?
RD: Training should be a habit. Train when you’re tired, train when you don’t want to train. Everything will be possible with dedication. Like I said, I was never to most talented guy in the gym, but here I am, fighting the ADCC superfight. It is all possible
MW: Thank you for your time and best of luck at your upcoming fight at ADCC!