Today is the day that Brazilian jiu jitsu ace, Braulio Estima, makes his MMA debut with the Titan FC promotion. It's a day many grappling fans have been anxiously waiting for, and to mark it's significance, I've managed to get a quick interview for our readers. The interview is mainly focused on his debut, and will hopefully serve as a good holdover until the fights tonight.
Stephie Daniels: What are your overall thoughts going into your first fight, especially against a pretty tough opponent who recently knocked out Phil Baroni?
Braulio Estima: This is going to be a pretty tough fight. Because of my credits from BJJ, it's pretty tough to get a beginner for an entry level fight. He was the first one to accept the fight. He's a brawler and very experienced with a 5-3 record. All his wins are by knockout and he's coming in with a 3 fight win streak. He just beat Phil Baroni, who is a former UFC guy. I'm expecting a strong opponent that's going to come in there trying to knock me out. That's what I've been training for.
Stephie Daniels: What made you decide to skip an amateur fight or two and go straight to a pro fight?
Braulio Estima: Since I have succeeded in BJJ, and have been training MMA and getting experience with the pros, and feeling how it is to fight, and once I went to the Blackzilian camp and trained and did well, people there said that I was ready. I'm also very impatient. I just want to be thrown in the cage with the lions as soon as I can, so we'll see what happens [laughs].
Stephie Daniels: We see athletes coming from Olympic and collegiate level wrestling all the time. Do you feel that more attention and scrutiny is put towards your debut than that of another athlete of your caliber, that trains in a different discipline?
Braulio Estima: There's a big expectation on my debut, maybe because people think that I can do well or maybe they're just excited to see how I'm going to deal with my BJJ in an MMA setting. I've also been teaching a lot of big MMA names in grappling, and they have said many good things about me. I don't know, exactly, but it might be one of those reasons.
Stephie Daniels: You've said that you're gearing up for a full time MMA career, so are there any plans for you to relocate to the US?
Braulio Estima: My first goal is to do some fights. I really want to introduce myself to this career, and invest some time in it, because I didn't become a BJJ world champion by only training twice a week. I gave a lot of time, and the same will be required for my MMA career, too. In order to do that, I'm really willing to invest a lot of time on this, at least one full time year here in Florida. Obviously, I will be traveling back and forth between here and the UK, but after a year or so, I will reevaluate and decide what will be best for me.
Stephie Daniels: Have you viewed any of the fight tape on Chris Holland, or do you feel you are better served to let your team or coaches do that for you?
Braulio Estima: I do watch the tapes myself, and also, my coaches watch, too. We watch together, and I go back home, and try to study them myself. That's the beauty of mixed martial arts, because you can make a strategy that is specific to one opponent, and it's an advantage we don't have in Brazilian jiu jitsu. You might face five top opponents in one day. This gives me a little more confidence, and helps keep me a little bit more calm for this fight. I know, more or less, what to expect from him, and I can prepare myself towards that area.
Stephie Daniels: I'm sure you've probably noticed some holes in his ground game, but do you feel confident in your abilities to be able to pick out any obvious holes in his stand-up, or is that something you feel better letting your coaches handle?
Braulio Estima: The first time I saw his fights, I saw that he was pretty tough and pretty strong. I did see some holes, and of course my instructors see much more than me, but they open up my mind for it, but I do see some holes that I can take advantage of that will help my game. I spotted a few places where I can take the fight to what I'm good at. I'm not as strong as him as a striker, but I can use my strikes to set up what I'm good at, my jiu jitsu. I've focused my whole camp that way.
Stephie Daniels: Did you work with a professional dietician or nutritionist to help you make your weight cut?
Braulio Estima: Here at the Blackzilian camp, we have everything. We have professional coaches for different areas. I also got a lot of advice from Vitor Belfort. I spent a lot of time with him, because he's very experienced with fighting and weight cutting. I've been getting a lot of tips from him and that's worked pretty good. I'm a very focused person, so whatever the plan is, that's what I stick to.
Stephie Daniels: What did you miss most, out of all the foods that you normally eat?
Braulio Estima: Everything. Listen Stephie, I couldn't sleep well last night, thinking about my breakfast. As soon as I finished my breakfast, the only thing on my mind was lunch. And then I can't wait to eat my dinner. [laughs] I just miss everything. I especially miss the carbohydrates. When I'm in my room by myself, and I'm watching TV, those adds for KFC, Burger King, Pizza Hut...this is definitely the hardest part, you know.
Stephie Daniels: You've been with the Blackzilians for almost a year now. Have you noticed a big change since Mike Van Arsdale has left and Mario Sperry has taken over?
Braulio Estima: I didn't see much of a difference. The team is always very strong together. I didn't get to train with Mike much, because when I first came here, he was training Rashad for Jon Jones, so I couldn't see much difference in the coaching system, because for the majority of the time, I was training with Mario and the other coaches. The team does seem to be a little bit more bonded now. It's been a great opportunity for me. It's not every day you can walk into a gym that has Rashad Evans, Alistair Overeem, Tyrone Spong, Thiago Silva, Vitor Belfort, the coaches and so many more great guys. It's amazing.
Stephie Daniels: With the current climate of MMA revolving around entertainment value, where do you think of the current trend of hyping up fights by any means necessary?
Braulio Estima: Since I first started in BJJ, one of my main goals was always to pass along a good message to people. To be a champion doesn't mean that you're a better person than anybody else. To be a champion, you need to be a humble person that respects your opponent in every single way. He's there to fight you, so just do your job. It doesn't matter what people say. That fight is between you and your opponent. It doesn't matter how much you talk before or after. That fight is still there, and I'm just going to do the best that I can possibly do on the day of the fight.
You can follow Braulio via his Twitter account, @BraulioEstima