Exclusive interview: Gustavo Batista analyzes Lepri, Euros invincibility

Gustavo celebrates his absolute win. Marco Aurelio/Arena Jiu-Jitsu

A star of the new generation of BJJ, Gustavo Batista shone at the 2019 European Championship, held between the 15th and 20th of January in Odivelas. The sitting medium heavy world champion (closing it out with Lucas Hulk for Atos) Gustavo took gold in Portugal in the heavyweight division next to his teammate Kaynan Duarte. In the absolute, he shone even brighter, dominating Lucas Lepri for a healthy 10-0 win in the final.

At 22, Gustavo became one of the youngest black-belts to ever win the absolute in the Euros — losing by a few months to Rodolfo Vieira, who was 22 and four months in 2012. But he beat Roger Gracie’s mark of 24 from 2004.

Portugal has been good to Gustavo, who in four years over there has remained unbeaten. Competing since 2015 in the IBJJF Euros, he won double gold each time (2015, blue / 2016, purple / 2017, brown / 2019, black).

Graciemag talked to Gustavo Batista, and he analyzed the feeling of fighting Lucas Lepri, the training leading up to the first big competition of the season, and the next steps in his career. Check it out.

GRACIEMAG: What was your most complicated duel at this European?

Gustavo Batista: Look, I really wanted this absolute and I was very happy to win my first big absolute title as a black-belt. An unforgettable day for my career. At my weight the hardest fight was the semifinal with Adam Wardzinski. It was a good fight; he’s a very technical and tough. In the absolute, it was the semifinal, which was a war against Igor “Tigrão” Schneider. And of course, there was the final with Lucas Lepri, a high-level fighter.

About the final with Lepri, did you get nervous before the fight?

Of course I did. Lucas is crazy strong; I’ve always been a huge fan of his jiu-jitsu and being in an absolute final with him was a different sensation, and an honor for me. He has a very solid and complete game; I knew it would be a fight in which I could not make mistakes. I was very happy with the victory; it was the realization of a dream, feeling that all my dedication is bringing me results. It took a while to sink in. [Laughs.]

How was your preparation for this tournament? Was it hard performing at the top level after the holiday season?

I did my preparation in Florianópolis, my hometown. As the European is right at the beginning of the year, I continued training non-stop at the end of the year during the holidays. I trained a lot of gi and physical preparation too, as always. I counted on the help of my friends, because it is a time that people are usually on vacation, but they helped me in training every day and I managed to get well prepared. It was looking a little tricky getting my weight down to medium heavyweight, so I chose to go heavy and get stronger, with no diet and focused  on the absolute.

How does training work with your girlfriend Luiza Monteiro, who was absolute runner-up? Is there any advantage in training with someone so close?

It’s cool. She is very strong and technical. Every once in a while we train, but I usually work out with the guys in my weight, and she with her same-weight training partner. But we help each other a lot every day and talk a lot about jiu-jitsu.

What is your next mission? BJJ Pro or total focus on defending your title at the Pan?

I have a superfight in Fight2win, and I want to fight the next two editions of BJJ Pro, but my biggest focus now is really on the IBJJF Pan.

*** Remember the style of Batista in the final of the brown belt absolute in 2017.

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