Once upon a time, he was in a tiny apartment, struggling to make ends meet, but these days, Eddie Bravo is leading an almost charmed life. With popular BJJ schools all over the globe, a music career, and a new baby boy, the grappling ace has attained a level of success that most people only dream about. Eddie recently took some time out of his busy schedule for a quick interview on TapouT Radio, where he discussed fatherhood, and the tools needed for top level black belts to cross over into MMA.
TapouT Radio: You've recently become a father. Talk about the impact that's had on you.
Eddie Bravo: It's wonderful. Everyone says, 'It's going to change your life. You're going to see life in a whole different way.' Then some people are like, 'Dude, you're not going to be able to sleep for three months,' just focusing in on the bad stuff, but both are true. You're not going to get much sleep, but luckily, my girlfriend is just the most amazing mother on the planet. I mean, I lucked out. She's supermom. It's incredible. I help out when I can, but she's the one that does the majority of the feeding, the changing...I think I've changed maybe four diapers so far, and she's changed hundreds.
It's wonderful to have someone that exists that's number one over yourself. He's always going to be number one. I'd give my life for him. You live your life a little bit differently when you have someone that you're willing to die for. I love it.
TapouT Radio: Are you happy that you got a boy?
Eddie Bravo: I thought we were going to have a girl, and we were preparing for that, but when we were looking at the ultrasounds with the doctor, you could see a d*ck, and the doctors saw a d*ck. I asked, 'Are you sure? You sure it wasn't like some part of the placenta?' [laughs] I'm so stoked to have a boy. It's awesome.
I would have liked to have had a girl, too. A girl would have been cool because there would have been no pressure on her. My son's going to have a lot of pressure when he starts doing jiu jitsu. He's only three weeks old, and I'm already trying to figure out the best way to approach the jiu jitsu thing without putting any pressure on him, but with a girl, there would have been zero pressure on her. Everything she would accomplish would be extra. It would have been gravy, you know what I mean?
It's going to be interesting, raising my boy in the jiu jitsu world. He could say, 'Dad, I don't want to f*ckin' do jiu jitsu! I don't wanna do it. I wanna paint, man!' He could easily do that, and it would be cool. Whatever he wants to do, it's all good.
I forget the guy's first name, he's a kettlebells master, but his last name is Maxwell (note: Steve Maxwell). He has a 20 year old son, and whatever he did with his son, is perfect. I want to sit down with him and break it all down and pick his brain. His son, Zak Maxwell, is a black belt in jiu jitsu, and he's pretty badass. He beat Kron (Gracie) last week, and it was pretty impressive. To beat Kron, you've got to be a physical specimen, and mentally, you've got to be a fierce, competitive warrior. People are saying he's the one American that has a legitimate shot at taking the Mundials this year.
It's getting me back into the gi, just hearing about this guy and watching him grapple. I don't usually have that much time to watch gi matches. I've got so much no-gi I've got to watch, I just don't have time, but I am starting to make the time to watch some gi matches with Zak Maxwell. I'm a big fan now. Anyway, my point was that I want to pick Maxwell's brain, and figure out what he did with his son, because he did a perfect job.
TapouT Radio: Are there plans in the works for a wedding?
Eddie Bravo: We got engaged and were planning on getting married next month, but the pregnancy came, and we decided to wait until after the baby. We'll definitely get married sometime this year. It's not going to be some giant wedding. It's going to be nice and small.
TapouT Radio: Braulio Estima is currently in Florida, training with the Blackzilians, and is rumored to be making a crossover into MMA soon. What are your thoughts on that happening?
Eddie Bravo: There's so many other factors besides jiu jitsu. There's guys that are amazing at jiu jitsu, and Braulio is possibly top three of all time, but how is his striking? How's his wrestling? The best jiu jitsu in the world, if you can't get the fight down to the ground, you're being forced to be a kickboxer.
Just like Cristiano Marcello in his fight, two weeks ago on The Ultimate Fighter, when he fought Justin Lawrence. I'm sure when it comes to pure jiu jitsu, he's 100 times better than Justin Lawrence, but he couldn't get the fight to the ground, so it didn't matter.
I'm a big fan of Braulio Estima, so I'm pulling for him. I hope that he comes out and just kills everybody. That would be awesome.
TapouT Radio: With high level jiu jitsu players coming into MMA more frequently, how long would you say they should train their stand-up before they make the jump?
Eddie Bravo: The longer, the better. I'd say get your striking together, and get your wrestling together. Even if you work on your striking and wrestling for years, there's still going to be people that you can't take down, and there's still people that will outstrike you. To get to the top, to be a UFC champion nowadays, it seems, especially in the lighter divisions, if you haven't wrestled for your whole life, and if you aren't an amazing striker, it just ain't happening. You can't be average.
Jose Aldo was able to push through, but not because of his jiu jitsu. It was because of his striking. You've got to be like that, or be an incredible wrestler, like GSP. If you didn't wrestle your whole life, and you try to jump into MMA, it's so tough. These jiu jitsu world champions have a hard time. Getting the fight to the ground...that's the mystery that needs to be solved.
TapouT Radio: Are there any black belts that you think could successfully make the transition, based on their BJJ skills alone?
Eddie Bravo: Roger Gracie said it himself. He said 'Eighty percent of BJJ is useless in MMA.' When someone is trying to punch you, in MMA, you're forced to play a clinching style of jiu jitsu. If you don't understand the difference between a clinching style and an open style, this will sound like German to you. In MMA, when someone's trying to punch you, you clinch to avoid getting smashed. I believe, in order to optimize your jiu jitsu in MMA, the more you can clinch, and the more you can set up submissions from the clinch, and the more you can set up sweeps from the clinch, the more your game is about clinching the upper body, the better chance you'll have in MMA. That's my opinion.
TapouT Radio: You have so many noteworthy names coming to train with you, and lately, those names include Ronda Rousey and Duane Ludwig. How has it been training with those two?
Eddie Bravo: It's been going great. Ronda has been training. Nik Lentz, too. Ronda, and Nick and Duane just learn so fast. They're very smart, cerebral fighters. We're still in the process of mastering the system, so hopefully it will work out to benefit them. Most of Ronda's fights, she's going to be on top anyways, so we're just working the rubber guard just in case she ends up on her back. She's got the best armbar in the game anyways, so I'm just trying to give her extra stuff. She's a badass without me, so we're just trying to sprinkle in some different techniques. Duane Ludwig is a badass, too. I'm just adding stuff to their game, not taking anything away.
Follow Eddie via his Twitter account@EddieBravo