A Profile Of The "Big Dog"
By Tom DeFazio
In the November and December issues of FCF, we did a profile of some of the guys on the Renzo Gracie Fight Team. Here’s the piece we did on Ricardo Almeida from this month’s issue of Full Contact Fighter…
||"Cacharrao" (Big Dog)
|RANK UNDER RENZO:
- 1993 Rio de Janeiro State Champion
- 1993 Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu National Champion
- 1994 Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu National Champion
- 1996 Rio de Janeiro State Champion
- 1996 Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu National Champion
- 1997 Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu National Champion
- 1998 Abu Dhabi Submission Wrestling Championships 2nd Place
- 1999 Pan American Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Champion
- 2000 Abu Dhabi Submission Wrestling Championships 3rd Place
- 2000 Abu Dhabi Submission Wrestling Championships 3rd Place – Absolute Division
- NAGA Heavyweight Champion
FCF: How long have you been training with Renzo?
Ricardo Almeida: Well, in Brazil I trained at Gracie Barra. When I started training, Renzo was the only black belt at the academy, so I always looked up to him and stuff. But here in the States, three and a half years.
FCF: How long have you been doing Jiu-Jitsu?
RA: I started in April of ’92, about eight and a half years.
FCF: You run Renzo’s academy in South Jersey?
RA: Yes, I run classes 3 days a week, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays in a gym called Flex gym.
FCF: You got your black belt after the 1999 Abu Dhabi competition after you won your match against Rigan Machado?
RA: Yes, Renzo makes us deserve…he makes us try to do something big before we get the belts.
FCF: Are you going back to Abu Dhabi this year?
RA: Definitely man. I’m going in the lighter weight, which is my natural weight, up to 88 kilos, that’s around 193 pounds. The past 3 years I fought up to 98 kilos, which is 217…and I never even was heavy enough for the lighter end of that weight division. But I got good results, so I can’t really complain.
FCF: Will you also compete in the open weight division?
RA: Definitely, the open is really where you test yourself. Not really so much physically and not so much your skills, but mentally because you really have to push it and overcome pain and the difference of size…and it’s fun too.
FCF: You’re also competing in MMA now?
RA: I did one last November , so it’s been too long. But I’m kind of waiting on Renzo, whenever he thinks I’m ready…we’ve been talking about it and I think soon something’s going to happen.
FCF: Are you doing any stand-up training?
RA: I’ve been doing some boxing…actually with one of the students from the academy here, Edgar. Over the summer I was in Europe for two months and I trained some kickboxing there with some friends, that was fun…do something different, didn’t train a lot of Jiu-Jitsu, mostly like Muay Thai every day, so that was fun.
FCF: You have a super-fight coming up…
RA: Actually, I have two. I have the one at the NAGA, the North American Grappling Association…I’m fighting Ricardo Arona, who is a very, very good kid from Carlson’s [Gracie] school. He’s coming from like a new generation, just promoted to black belt, but he won Abu Dhabi last year…actually the division I fought in; a very tough, very aggressive fighter. Should be a very good fight.
FCF: Did you match up with him in Abu Dhabi?
RA: No, no. I wound up losing the first round in my division, then I came back for the absolute [open weight class] the next day. Then, the week after that fight, I’m fighting Macaco down in North Carolina at the Pro-Ams.
[Neither super-fight happened, Ricardo was ill and unable to compete]
FCF: Do you have anything coming up after that?
RA: After that? Just help Renzo’s brother Ryan, ’cause he’s fighting in Japan; help Matt [Serra] train, just support those guys. I don’t think there’s gonna be anything major before Abu Dhabi, maybe the Pan-Ams. I’m thinking about fighting with the gi a couple of times next year too, it’s always nice to go back to Brazil and you know…support Jiu-Jitsu, see the old friends.
FCF: Is there any difference between training here and training in Brazil?
RA: Difference in Brazil? I wouldn’t say a lot more quality, because here we have very good guys, but in Brazil there’s a lot more quantity of very, very good guys. Like here we have a lot good guys, but like high-level…it’s me Matt, Rodrigo [Gracie], Sean [Alvarez], and Renzo of course; Ryan’s always here and there’s always someone…we have some students that are able to push us, but in Brazil we have a quantity of guys that’s just unbelievable.
FCF: Does your brother Flavio come up here much?
RA: He comes once a year, he spends usually January here, because that’s vacation time down there. We train together, I try to train with the gi…he fills me in with what’s been going on, and I try and fill him in with what’s going on. But I definitely like training here better, more realistic; a lot more without the gi, training as a whole here in the United States is better…we have the supplements, weight lifting, plyometrics, and all these new trends in training and conditioning.
FCF: Well, thanks for the interview.
RA: You’re welcome.