This is just a portion of the interview. Sorry for not posting the whole thing, it will be posted in it's entirely at www.bjjnews.com in a few days. I wasn't originally going to post it here but since there was some interest when I mentioned him the other day, I thought give you guys a look at it. Thanks.
interview conducted by: www.greenwhaleproductions.com
GW: I was pleased to see your name resurface in the past few months. I remember you making a big splash many years ago fighting in HooknShoot with your victories over Travis Fulton, Henry Matamoros and Aaron Riley. All three of these guys have gone on to have pretty successful careers. What have you been up to that has kept you away from competing?
MR: Believe it or not, studying. A lot of people don't know this, but during the period when I was actively fighting I was also a full-time medical student. Even though I was fighting professionally, I didn't consider myself a true 'professional' fighter -- I was doing it because I loved it, and training in whatever free time that I could come up with. I ended up being the first Brazilian to fight in HooknShoot -- I faced Henry Matamoros, Aaron Riley, John Renken and Travis Fulton, and also had a grappling match with Jeremy Horn.
However, as things progressed, it became harder and harder to balance both activities. I then decided to take a break from fighting and concentrate on my studies. I got my M.D. degree in 2002, and moved to Rochester (MN) this last June. I am now teaching Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu on a regular basis, having opened my own school in August.
GW: Any comments on how the sport has changed in general since you fought?
I believe it has changed a whole lot in many aspects. I would say that the level of athleticism and professionalism has substancially increased. Back in the 'old' days, a fighter could be successful in the ring based solely on his talent and/or superior technical skills. Competition is so fierce nowadays that, unless you have excellent conditioning to back up your technique, you will lose. Fighters are also more well-rounded, and we no longer see "style versus style" matches. Everybody crosstrains, and every high level fighter is comfortable both standing up and on the ground.
Unfortunately, the organizational aspect of things has not changed much. I would like to see fighters get more recognition as professional athletes, and for the sport to be more rewarding to them (both career and financial-wise).
GW: Any thoughts about competing again, whether it's MMA or grappling? Many think you had the potential to be a big star in MMA if you stuck with it.
MR: Definitely. Once a competitor, always a competitor. I would love to go back to competing both in grappling and MMA in the future. However, I don't believe in doing things half-way. Right now I am going through a transition period in my life -- moving to a different country, going through the whole immigration process and starting a new school has been keeping me quite busy. Once everything is more established and settled, I will be able to concentrate more on my training. Then you might see me back in the ring. I am only 26 years old, so I am not in a big hurry or anything.
GW: Do you find trouble trying to get good training for yourself? Do you go to Brazil occasionally to catch up with the new innovations on techniques?
MR: Actually, I was very fortunate to find great training partners here in Rochester. Some of my students have professional fighting backgrounds, which helps a lot. I also have been doing a lot of training with veteran MMA fighter Travis Wiuff. Having somebody of his caliber at my school definitely helps pushing it to the next level. Travis is an excellent fighter with a great attitude, and I foresee great things for him in the sport.
I believe that as long as you dedicate yourself to training and commit to training as hard and as diligent as possible you will always progress. You can always get better, even if you only have beginners as training partners. It is all about being creative with your training, and most of all being commited to excellence. I am always being pushed by my students, and I learn a lot from them -- white belts to black belts.
Mario is currently teaching in Rochester, MN and you
can e-mail Mario at email@example.com.