A world jiu-jitsu champion, Augusto Mendes always made it clear that his one great passion in the world of combat sports is the gentle art. So much that even after making the switch over to MMA and being hired by the UFC, “Tanquinho” still competes in super fights on the mats. That passion makes for a busy second half of the year for the Brazilian.
Coming off a decision defeat to Aljamain Sterling at UFC Kansas City in April, Mendes will take part in a prestigious Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tournament scheduled for July 16 in Moscow.
"It's an organization called ACB, it’s in Russia," Mendes said. ”It’s by the the same owner who runs the MMA events, he is a brown belt in jiu-jitsu. I fought two years ago there in Russia. I won and as they now have the Grand Prix, they called me. It will be a tournament consisting of eight athletes."
That tournament will also feature the return of Leonardo Vieira. A multi-time jiu-jitsu champion, the 41-year-old will take on the new names of the sport and is already drawing attention not only from fans but also from his competitors. Among them “Tanquinho” himself.
"Leozinho confirmed [his participation," Mendes said. “It will be very good. It's a pleasure to fight him. I admire him a lot, I grew up watching him fight. He's a guy who inspired me a lot. To have the chance to fight 'Leozinho' is something you don’t get every day, and it probably won’t happen again, I believe. When I got to [the] black belt [division] he did not fight so much anymore. We never ran into each other, not even at ADCC."
Don't expect Mendes to abandon the Octagon though.
Looking to get back into the MMA cage at the end of the year, Mendes assured that he hasn’t lost focus on his mixed martial arts career: He continues to train muay thai, boxing and wrestling during preparation for the July 16 tournament.
"I continue to train jiu-jitsu all the time”, Mendes said. “I train with the staff of my team that has been fighting in championships. During the time that I focused on MMA I still fought in jiu-jitsu, I did not lower the level. The only thing that changes is that during my training camps for MMA I decrease the amount of jiu-jitsu drills, which I won’t do now. I will do my normal training for MMA, but I don’t put so much time into the standing part.
"Maybe I have sinned in preparation", Mendes reflected on his loss to top prospect Aljamain Sterling. "We stayed in the clinch, in wrestling, and we weren’t expecting that. I didn’t do so much in the camp, I think that may have been the mistake. But [Sterling is] a tough guy, he lacked experience but he’s getting better. I’m keeping my head up and I’m continuing training. I'm in the right place. I'll show you that I can defeat a lot of guys."