BJJ Phenom ‘Jacare’ Set for Toughest Test to Date

Jun 10, 2008
Ronaldo Souza (Pictures) is universally regarded as one of the most talented Brazilian jiu-jitsu artists in the world. He has also compiled an 8-1 record in MMA, which he will take into the Dream middleweight grand prix quarterfinals on Sunday.

Martins Denis spoke with the man known as "Jacare" on his transition to MMA, his training with Randy Couture (Pictures) and his upcoming bout against Jason "Mayhem" Miller.

Sherdog.com: How is your life nowadays? Where do you live?
Jacare: My life is a run. I am always traveling. I am in Sao Paulo, Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

Sherdog.com: What do you miss most about living in Manaus, Brazil?
Jacare: I miss the academy, ASLE headquarters. This is a family. I miss my friends. To summarize, I miss a lot, a lot of good things.

Sherdog.com: Last year you fought four times, two times in Brazil. How was your training at ASLE? A lot of people cannot imagine how it is.
Jacare: The training was everyday in three different periods: morning, evening and night. We focus a lot on Brazilian jiu-jitsu and conditioning and, of course, the stand-up game. Several people already went to Manaus and were impressed with the technique, heart and stamina of the team. To train in Manaus is not easy. Many do not make it. The air seems to be like a sauna -- humid and heavy. The climate is terrible, and the master, Henrique Machado, pushes a high pace.

Sherdog.com: You have a great relationship with your master, Henrique Machado. With you living outside of Manaus now, how is that relationship?
Jacare: I have a strong relationship with him, but he is no longer with me and probably will not be with me for upcoming commitments.

Sherdog.com: So this is the reason he was not in your corner at your Japanese debut?
Jacare: I always traveled alone. I fought seven BJJ Mundials without him coaching me. I was training in Las Vegas and he was in Manaus, so I decided not to call him for that fight.

Sherdog.com: Why did you delay fighting outside Brazil after Gracie FC?
This is a question I prefer not to respond to. I am sorry.

Sherdog.com: You were close to signing with WEC. What happened?
Jacare: I had proposals from Affliction and EliteXC too, but Dream's proposal was much more lucrative. And I think Dream is the return of Japan to big shows. Japan needed this to be on the top again.

Sherdog.com: But did you receive a proposal to be part of ‘TUF'?
Jacare: This is not true, and I cannot talk regarding this great promotion.

Sherdog.com: You are in Dream and you are in the grand prix. What is your situation with the organization?
Jacare: I am a Dream fighter, and this is my situation [laughs].

Sherdog.com: Is your contract only for the grand prix?
Jacare: Not only for the grand prix. It goes on besides.

Sherdog.com: Was all of your preparation for the grand prix in the United States?
Jacare: All was done in Las Vegas at Xtreme Couture and with Alejara. I think my wrestling and my stand-up game improved a lot since then.

Sherdog.com: And this debut in Japan, did you stay calm or nervous?
Jacare: For sure a bit nervous, but I love to feel this adrenaline. If I lose this one day, well, I will stop fighting.

Sherdog.com: Dream booked you first against Frank Trigg (Pictures) and then finally ended up confirming you against the newcomer Ian Murphy (Pictures). How did this change affect your preparation?
Jacare: I always enter to do my best and I enter to fight well, using all I have to win. I do not want to win well; my intention is to fight well. I know if I fight well, I will have great fights and this means that it will be very hard to lose to someone else.

Sherdog.com: What did you try to do in the first second of your fight against Murphy? Was that a frustrated attempt at a flying knee?
Jacare: I saw a gap and tried that flying knee. That attempt was pure instinct. In my opinion, that was not frustration; I only did not connect.

Sherdog.com: Was that OK for you or did you nearly endanger yourself when the flying knee missed?
Jacare: I am a fighter with a ground background, and it does not matter if I am underneath or on the top. I was very comfortable.

Sherdog.com: You are at Xtreme Couture, and the team has a high-level group of fighters. How is your exchange of experience and training with the members?
Jacare: I have a nice relationship with Wanderlei Silva (Pictures). He taught me a lot. We did exchange our experiences. Martin Kampmann (Pictures) is superb on the feet, and I learned aspects from him too. We are great friends. Tyson Griffin has all the tools to be the UFC lightweight champion. He trains a lot. Forrest Griffin (Pictures) is the man who trains the most here, and he is the guy who trains the most with me. Our training is tough nearly everyday. Randy Couture (Pictures) is extremely educated and helps me a lot with the throws. He is fantastic!

Sherdog.com: How did you become part of the team?
Jacare: Our first contact started after our submission fight, but only now I went to train in his academy. Gilberto from Jiu-Jitsu Pro Gear introduced us, and now I am here.

Sherdog.com: You mentioned the relationship with the team is nice, but what about the beginning of it?
Jacare: In the first week they hit me with too much. I was not training and I was adapting at the new academy. But I am glad about that initial suffering, which was learning also, for training with all the guys.

Sherdog.com: Talking about Forrest Griffin (Pictures), you train a lot with him. What are his real chances of taking the UFC light heavyweight belt from the hands of Quinton Jackson (Pictures)?
Jacare: His chances of winning the fight are huger than people imagine. He trains a lot, has excellent cardio and very good Brazilian jiu-jitsu. He can surprise his adversary in all aspects, but I guess his cardio is his strongest point.

Sherdog.com: Back to Dream. Your next fight is against Jason Miller. How is training?
Jacare: I am not training at Xtreme Couture this time. Some unexpected situations happened, and I could not go to Las Vegas. I am focusing on Brazilian jiu-jitsu to win this fight.

Sherdog.com: Do you think Miller will go to the ground against you?
Jacare: If he keeps this fight on the feet, avoiding the ground, I am here for him. If he keeps it on the feet, this will be a favor he will do for me.

Sherdog.com: What do you think of him?
Jacare: I think he is really crazy [laughs]. And, at the same time, he is a good fighter with good endurance and good ground. I do not think he has perceivable weaknesses. His greater experience does not mean anything to me. I am very focused for this fight.

Sherdog.com: And about the rest of this grand prix? Do you think Kazushi Sakuraba (Pictures) took the tougher opponent in Melvin Manhoef (Pictures)?
Jacare: I think everyone took tough foes. There is not a tomato can among the eight fighters. I do not think Saku took the toughest. If he trains a bit more, he will come across like the winner.

Sherdog.com: Do you feel a big responsibility to be successful in the transition from BJJ and submission tournaments to MMA? I mean not only in the transition but also to be number one in mixed martial arts too?
Jacare: It was never my intention to be only one more [fighter]. My will is to be among the top in the world. I achieved this fighting BJJ and submission, and in MMA this is not going to be different. I know I need to learn and I will. I am improving surprisingly. I can take the punishment and I will do everything to be a great champion in MMA. I will show that I am an athlete that develops in each fight. I will show the purpose I have in MMA.
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