Already arguably one of the greatest grapplers in history, Andre Galvao broke his own ADCC record when he won four straight ADCC World Championship Super Fights, amassing a grand total of six ADCC titles (including his 2011 ADCC division and absolute division wins, which earned him the 2013 Super Fight spot).
We talked to the legend himself about his ADCC journey. Read on:
Q: How did it feel when you made ADCC history and became the first to win four Super Fights?
It was a great feeling. I truly love what I do. I like to train and work hard. I have dreamed about that day… It was a very special day for me, and it could not have turned out better. From the second I woke up, I felt great. It was on the day of my birthday, and I was fighting against a very tough opponent. I had everyone there – my family, friends, teammates, coaches. I’m so happy that I could share such a special moment with my loved ones. It was a gift. The feeling was unreal. Just thinking about it, I start feeling the same feeling I felt that day. It was a very special moment in my career. It’s indescribable!
Q: What exactly does it take to become an ADCC World Champion?
Like everything worthwhile in life, it is not easy. It takes a lot of dedication, discipline, passion and hard work. I believe that it is even harder to win the Super Fight than the tournament, because of the intense mental pressure. Only those who have fought an ADCC Super fight can describe it. You must be ready mentally, physically and spiritually. And the fact that the event is only every two years, you have to work even harder, because like the Olympics, there are fewer opportunities to win it while you’re at your best.
Q: Has your training changed since your first ADCC win? How?
Yes, and no! Haha. I believe the training schedule and types of training during my camp is very similar to my first time preparing for ADCC. It’s almost the same. But technique-wise it has changed, because the sport has evolved, and so I have also had to evolve. Also, during my first training camp back in 2011, before I won double gold, I was training mostly with blue and purple belts, and only a few black belts (Bruno Frazatto and Davi Ramos). It was the beginning of Atos HQ in San Diego, and they were all I had as training partners. Now, we have so many high-level black belt world champions here in San Diego. Definitely this has changed my training camps, because every single round is very intense now!
Q: How did you prepare for your fight with Felipe Pena?
I did my best as always. I did my homework, never skipped a training session, always trying to achieve better results each and every day. I worked even harder than before, but also I had more experience this time, so it helped a lot, both in my preparation as well as my fight!
Q: Which ADCC Super Fight was your favorite? Why?
All of them! I can’t pick just one. This is because I achieved different things in each one of them. The first one against Braulio Estima was special because I became the first and only to win a Super Fight match by submission (RNC). The second one against Cyborg was special because I broke the record for most points scored in a Super Fight. Plus, it was in Brazil, so that it was very exciting for me to fight in my home country. I broke the record for most Super Fight victories in my third one against Claudio Calasans, and then broke it again in my fourth and last one against Felipe Pena. The last one was also special because I dominated the fight the entire time, it was on my birthday, and it was held super close my home in California.
Q: Is your strategy/game different in no-gi than in the gi? How so?
I would say my strategy is the same for both no-gi and gi. For sure, the ADCC is a completely different rule set than any other grappling event, so that has an effect. But independent of that, my goals are always the same: go HARD, go for the victory, and win by submission.
But one big difference between ADCC and any other event is that I commit 100% to preparing myself for ADCC! The ADCC training camps are the only the camps that I don’t teach regular classes. I dedicate myself entirely to preparing myself for ADCC, the entire three months of the training camp. I leave everything else to be run by others. I focus only on the Andre Galvao the athlete.
With the gi tournaments, I can’t do that. Because they are every year, there are a lot of tournaments throughout the year, and I must dedicate myself to also being a businessman and a coach. I have to take care of my students and the school, so I can’t focus 100% on just myself as a competitor every single time. Since I opened Atos, I have never fought the Worlds, Pans, Euros, or the other major IBJJF events with 100% focus on myself, both during training and at the events, because of my dedication to my students and my school. But God is great, and I was still able achieve a lot of great things.
Q: Are you really retired? Or will fans maybe see a last Super Fight against Gordon Ryan?
I am retired! I’m now enjoying my family, my daughter, my wife. I’m dedicating even more of my time to my family, to my students and business, to the community, etc. But… about the Super Fight against Gordon, I would say never say never. I will leave it in God’s hands. I’m super happy with my career, and what I have done is already written in the history of jiu-jitsu. I don’t need to prove anything to anyone.