(Bravo says, “Don’t be scared, romie.”)
When a relatively unknown brown belt named Eddie Bravo defeated a revered member of the fabled Gracie clan eight years ago at the Abu Dhabi Combat Club Submission Wrestling Championships, many people, including the man he beat, Royler Gracie wrote off the win as a fluke. Since then, Bravo has been painted as a rebellious martyr by the Gracie loyal and has worked tirelessly to prove that there’s more than the Gracie way of competing in submission grappling and MMA.
Recently it was announced that a rematch between Gracie and Bravo would be taking place at this year’s ADCC tournament and after agreeing to the bout and speaking about it in the press, Royler made some high monetary demands to the event organizers that may very well leave the match in jeopardy.
We spoke to Bravo over the weekend and touched on a number of topics, perhaps most importantly the status of his match with Royler that was to provide him an opportunity to once and for all silence his detractors.
Here’s what Eddie had to say:
The main reason you left the UFC was because you were getting burned out from all the travel and you wanted more time to focus on 10th Planet, your music and your personal life. Are things more normal and are you less busy now?
I left the UFC because I was way too busy, but I’m as busy as ever. I’m dealing more with my 10th Planet Association stuff than traveling for the UFC. I’m traveling just about as much, but I’m getting more productive stuff done now.
You seem to be focusing a lot more on your music and your band, Smoke Serpent. You’ve been doing shows and putting out new music, so it seems like that’s been a big focus since leaving the UFC.
The plan was to quit the UFC to focus more on my schools and focus more on my band and focus more on my personal life. I got engaged. I’m going to get married next year. I’m 41. It’s time to have kids. It’s time to slow down a bit. There are a lot of things I wanted to focus on and music was definitely one of them, but I’ve been so damn busy. Last weekend was a good weekend for me. We played a big gig in Hollywood. It was our best gig to date. It was a packed house; the sound was great…it was awesome. Then on Saturday, the whole day I filmed Mastering the Twister: The DVD and then Sunday, the whole day we filmed a music video for the song Jiu-Jitsu, which is coming out great. We’re using the same production crew that worked on Star Wars Episode 3 and James Cameron movies and Michael Bay movies. We’re going ultra-big with the DVDs this time.
We’ve talked before about how the 10th Planet Association is kind of like the Freemasons, where its members come from all walks of life and work in different industries, but are a great pool of resources. Is that how you came to work with this production team, was through 10th Planet?
That’s EXACTLY how it went down. They’re called six digit productions and they specialize in getting all the crazy shots in like Transformers and stuff like that. They do Super Bowl commercials and big time music videos. They’re no joke; they’re huge. It just so happens that one of the owners and one of the directors of photography train at my gym and they said, ‘Let’s go big with this. Let’s make a jiu-jitsu instructional like there’s never been one and let’s make it so that no one can ever top it. The equipment that was used to make this video was insane. It could be way overboard. All you really need for an instructional is a garage, a curtain, one camera and you record the techniques. That’s all you really need. You don’t need to go big, but I decided that since I could do it and the offer was there to do the instructional and a big-budget music video for [our song] Jiu-Jitsu, and we’re doing another one for Dropped, which is something I’ve never done before and they’re going big with these videos – I figured, why not? So I said, “Let’s do it. Let’s see what happens.” It could be way over the top, but one thing’s for sure, it probably will never be duplicated.
It’s nice to get a leg up like that from members of your team. Most people who don’t train don’t realize that your team in a lot of ways is like your family who stick together through thick and thin.
Absolutely. We’re gigantic underdogs. I have about 30 schools, but most of them are run by [10th Planet] blue or purple belts. We’re barely at the baby stages [in 10th Planet’s development]. This is all just beginning, so it’s really important that we all stick together and grow as a team. When somebody wins big from 10th Planet Rochester, the whole 10th Planet Association benefits from their success. If somebody wins big from 10th Planet San Francisco, 10th Planet Yuma benefits as well. If we all stick together and stay strong and keep pushing through…Like I said, we’re the underdogs here. We’re the dark horses. We’re tiny. In the scope of things, most people in the Brazilian jiu-jitsu community know who we are, but most people aren’t on board. Most people are still on the traditional side [of BJJ], which is fine. We’re not trying to eradicate the traditional side. We’re just trying to add to its own no-gi side. We’re trying to prove that no-gi and traditional jiu-jitsu are two different sports just like judo and Greco-Roman wrestling.
The one myth that is my mission to dispel is that if you want to get good at grappling for MMA, train with the gi. Hopefully one day people will see that it’s two different sports. It’s judo and it’s Greco.Even just no-gi jiu-jitsu on its own is WAAAYY different than MMA jiu-jitsu. The whole gi vs. no-gi debate should be done with. Forget about what I’ve always said about the gi and no-gi and all that stuff. Listen to the number one Gracie on the planet right now. The number one Gracie on the planet is Roger and he said it himself, that 80 percent of BJJ does not work in MMA. He said it. He said that. Think about what that means. If 80 percent of your system does not work in MMA, how does that system prepare you for MMA? There’s almost as much difference between no-gi jiu-jitsu and MMA jiu-jitsu as there is no-gi and gi jiu-jitsu.
In competitions like Abu Dhabi [Combat Club Submission Wrestling World Championships], all the top guys are going for leg locks and getting really, really good at doing leglocks. It used to be that if you did leglocks you were a traitor [to traditional BJJ]. That isn’t a theory. There’s no denying that. That’s the way it used to be. You were the enemy if you went for a leglock in a tournament , but now you see it all the time in Abu Dhabi. Abu Dhabi’s been around for almost 15 years and the no-gi grappling sport has evolved since that time into a leg lock game. Now all the top Brazilians aren’t only using leglocks in their games, that’s the main focus of their game and they’ve taken the whole leglock game to a whole other level. It’s beautiful. Guys like Rafael Mendes, [Rubens] Cobrinha [Charles], Caio Terra…What they’re bringing a high-tech Brazilian guard to the table with leglocks mixed in and they’ve taken it way beyond catch wrestling. That’s what it’s turned into. It’s a beautiful thing. But in MMA, we all know that leglocks are very, very dangerous. Leglocks are a strong part of the no-gi circuit, but they don’t prepare you for MMA. The best leglock guy out there in MMA, no doubt, is Masakazu Imanari. He was crushing everybody with leglocks, but he hasn’t really gotten anybody with one in a long time and he hasn’t really gotten a major belt yet. It makes you question whether or not the leglock game is the way to go. There are so many good leglock guys out there, yet there aren’t any of them winning belts in MMA. Look at Dean Lister. He was known on the West Coast as one of the best leglock guys around. He never won an MMA fight with a leglock. It’s too risky. Gokor Chivichyan’s system is the same. You ask the top guys who trained under him like Manny Gamburyan and Karo Parisyan why they aren’t going for leglocks and they’ll tell you it’s too dangerous in MMA. Yeah leglocks happen in MMA and yeah they work, but when you sit back to apply a leglock, you’re leaving your opponent’s arms free and one punch can change the outcome of a fight. Our focus at 10th Planet is jiu-jitsu that works and doesn’t change even if you add a striking component to the competition. That’s the clinching game and that’s the style that we focus on. It’s not the only style that should be played. We work in all the open styles as well like the Spiral Guard, De la Riva Guard – but the main focus is, and will always be jiu-jitsu so that you don’t get your head smashed in.
You mentioned Abu Dhabi and how the 10th Planet nation supports one another immensely through victory and defeat. The big news for 10th Planet recently was that its founder would be coming out of “retirement” to rematch the legend he beat to make a name for himself in the sport. Now there is a possibility that the fight may not happen for various reasons. What is the status of your ADCC super fight with Royler Gracie?
I was in the Middle East training with [ADCC founder and UFC part owner] Sheikh Tahnoon and on my last day there, he told me he wanted to see me grapple in ADCC again. He asked me who I wanted to grapple against and I told him I’d only train and come out of retirement for a Royler rematch. So he said, “Alright, let me call Renzo [Gracie] and see what’s up.” He called Renzo up from his gym, Renzo called up Royler and five minutes later Renzo called back and said that Royler accepted the match. So it was on. The next morning it’s all over the Abu Dhabi website and Royler does an interview with Gracie Magazine and Tatame talking about the match and says he’s looking forward to it. He even talks a little shit about how lightening doesn’t strike the same place twice and that it doesn’t kill the same horse twice or something like that, I can never remember the horse analogy. Anyway, he was talking about the match for five days, he did a bunch of interviews and then all of a sudden he wants $50,000 to compete. Guy Neivens, the Sheikh’s right-hand man actually called me up two days before Royler told him he wanted the 50 grand to tell me something fishy was going on. He said, “Royler’s up to something here. In an interview he did, he said he accepted the match but the contracts hadn’t been signed yet. I don’t know what he’s talking about because there’s never been a contract signed in the history of Abu Dhabi. You just get the invitation and you go. There are no negotiations.” There’s never been a contract in Abu Dhabi, ever. No one has ever signed a contract. You just thank the guy who created this and who made it possible for you to be paid cash for jiu-jitsu. You accept it, you bow down and you give respect. You don’t have a contract. You don’t negotiate. No one’s ever done that. The fact that he mentioned contracts in one of his interviews made everyone suspicious that he was going to try to pull something. Guy thought it was weird. The Sheikh thought it was weird. Then two days later he called and said he wanted $50,000 to show PLUS the $25,000 win money.
The Sheikh was offended and insulted that he did that and he basically said, “No. It’s not going to happen that way.” Since then, Gracie magazine put out a thing saying, “Don’t believe the rumors. Royler’s going to do it. More news to come.” I have a feeling he’s going to do it without the 50K show money, but he’s trying to get me to train as little as possible and be as unprepared as possible, so they’re making everyone believe it’s not happening until the last possible minute. Who knows? I’m training hard. I’m thinking it’s still probably going to happen. I think he’s going to buckle under the pressure. Why he asked for 50K after he accepted the fight is beyond me. No one’s ever done that before, even in the UFC. No one’s ever accepted a fight and done interviews about the fight and then demanded a ton of money. No one’s ever done that. Why did he do that? Who knows? Some people think he may have started looking at some tape trying to study my techniques and maybe he thought it was too unorthodox or that the bout was too big of a risk. Nobody knows for sure. What we do know is he accepted the fight, he talked a bunch of shit and then he demanded $50,000 to show. That’s never been done ever. Who knows what his reasons are?
I heard from a source that you rolled with a Gracie black belt and that you surprised him with how well you did. Is there any truth to that?
I mean, I rolled with a few people, but I don’t want to talk about it.
That’s commendable. What happens in the gym stays in the gym. Maybe Renato Laranj has been spying on you and reporting back to Royler.
Where can people keep up with the latest 10th Planet news and official updates?
They can go to 10thPlanetjj.com on the Nibiru forum. I’m on there every day if you’ve got any questions. If you’re interested in seeing what kind of techniques I teach at headquarters here in LA, I put all of the videos of my techniques on the site in the techniques section. They’re called “Mastering the System.”
Where can people go to check out your music?
Go to ReverbNation.com/label/EddieBravoMusic. You can download all of my stuff there for free.
When is the new Mastering the Twister DVD coming out?
I’m not sure. Maybe at the end of the Summer around August.
As far as seminars, are you playing it by ear as you wait to hear if the Royler bout is on before booking anything?
Exactly. I’m not booking any seminars for August or September. I’m leaving that open in case this is a little trick or a ploy Royler is trying to do. I’ll be ready no matter what.
Well Eddie, as always it’s been a pleasure. I appreciate you taking the time to talk to us. Hopefully things work out and you finally get your opportunity to try to prove to your detractors that the first time against Royler was no fluke. If it’s going to hapen, we’ll check in with you closer to the fight to see how training is going.
Alright. Thank you, man.