Xande Ribeiro has already beaten two ADCC absolute champions… but at weight. In 2003, he scored 8 to 0 over Dean Lister. Four years later, he overcame Robert Drysdale with a takedown.
In the open weight category, though, he didn’t have the same luck the two times he participated. In 2005 he took fourth after losing to Roger in the semifinal and to Marcelo Garcia in the bronze-medal dispute and, two years later, in the final phase, after losing to a surprising David Avellan.
Under 99kg champion in 2007, after an electrifying final with Braulio “Carcara” Estima, Xande returns to the stage of the ADCC with two clear objectives: to take his second weight group title and the much-coveted absolute title, the only one missing from the fighter’s CV.
For such lofty achievements, Xande is training hard in San Diego with brother Saulo (who will compete too) and the whole team at University of Jiu-Jitsu. Even after having gone so long without competing in a grappling tournament (the last was the 2008 Worlds), Xande guarantees he is confident and at full steam.
During a brief pause in training, the two-time absolute champion of Jiu-Jitsu spoke to the GRACIEMAG at ADCC 2009 Blog.
Blog: Tell us a bit about your training for the ADCC.
Alexandre Ribeiro: Truth is that training of the ADCC goes hand in hand with MMA training [Xande had two MMA fights, winning both by TKO], but as I didn’t fight in Japan due to a knee injury, I focused entirely on grappling. I did strength work with Steve Maxwell and later worked on polishing up my game, agility and stretching with Natural Gymnastics teacher Alvaro Romano [GRACIEMAG columnist].
Blog: what has changed in relation to training for a Jiu-Jitsu championship?
Xande: The big difference in relation to Jiu-Jitsu is that the ADCC is a very physical tournament. To dispute it, one needs to train a lot of wrestling. Although the ADCC gives a greater chance of winning to wrestlers and “stallers” who like to run from the action, at the end of the day the ones with sharper Jiu-Jitsu wear themselves out less. Even more so when you think of how the champion has to fight for a minimum of 50 minutes, not including overtimes. That’s why one needs to have a lot of mental fortitude and stamina.
Blog: Are you totally recovered from the injured knee? Could your time in recovery, without being able to train, hamper your stamina in Barcelona?
Xande: I’m recovered from the injury and ready to fight for the title. I’ve got great stamina, if just because when I was injured I kept swimming and doing what I could. I might end up feeling a little lack of rhythm, since I haven’t competed since the 2008 Worlds. As for wind, don’t worry, I’ll be 100%.
Blog: Looking at your adversaries under 99kg, who do you imagine will give you the hardest time in getting your second?
Xande: All the opponents are difficult. I’ve seen few of them fight, but looking at who’s signed up I can point out Pe de Pano and Dean Lister. I saw some of Glover Teixeira’s matches, he crafty. There’s also Gerard Rinardi, who they told me is a really good wrestler and grappler. Vinicius “Pezao” is another force, as is Renato “Babalu”, who has really wicked wrestling. I’ve seen flaws and qualities in each of them and I’m prepared to play well both standing and on the ground.
Blog: The ADCC absolute title is the only one you’re missing. How are you dealing with the anxiousness?
Xande: I’m really anxious, but not in a negative way. The anxiousness makes me even more determined. I can’t think of the absolute, when in my weight division there are so many tough guys. To win the absolute, I have to do well in my category and not wear myself out, which is nearly impossible. I can tell you I’m prepared for 100 minutes of war over the weekend. The weekend will be mine and I’ll reach my objective.
Blog: From your previous performances in the ADCC, which would you consider your greatest moment?
Xande: I can say I really liked most of my performances. I was champion in 2007 and beat the 2003 and 2007 absolute champions.
Blog: Which was your most painful mistake?
Xande: As incredible as it may seem, the most painful moment was not the submission I suffered to Roger in 2005, but the triangle I let escape. But it’s alright, mistakes are there to make us evolve. I hope not to make the same mistake this year.
Blog: Who is the greatest ADCC athlete to date?
Xande: To me, Saulo [Ribeiro] is at the top. He competed in 6 ADCCs and is signed up for a seventh. Of these, he won two, fought in three different categories and will go into a fourth in 2009. In 1999 he was in a final in the gi that lasted 45 minutes against Jeff Monson, as well as other battles. He fought 30 minutes against David Terrel, 20 with Ronaldo Jacare and so on. But we can also stick Royler Gracie and Marcelo Garcia on the list too. And, of course, the blanket Roger Gracie.
Xande vs Napao – ADCC 2005
What about you, do you feel Xande will win the under 99kg and the absolute in Barcelona? Leave your comment.