Leandro Lo’s NS Brotherhood academy isn’t short of world level competitors, one such competitor is black belt Yago De Souza, after a stellar brown belt career he was awarded his black belt and hit the ground running winning the Euros, Pans and placing third at the worlds in 2016. However, his momentum was cut as he was side-lined with an injury which kept him out for a year. He returned this year placing 2nd at the Brazilian Nationals, we caught up with him as he prepares for the IBJJF Worlds.
FME - You recently had a long layoff but returned to compete at the Brasilieors where you came second. Congratulations! An amazing result but Obviously this wasn’t what you wanted, how did the tournament go and what are your immediate thoughts?
Yago - Usually going into the tournament I am always confident; however I knew it was going to be hard to fight, I was slightly worried about my fitness. I am happy about the result and at the same time I am not. I lost the finals in the last 10 seconds of the match, so I am slightly disappointed in myself.
FME - So talking about the long layoff, what happened and how do you feel now?
Yago - Man, I broke my Collar Bone, I spent a long time not training, and I didn’t have the confidence to come back and train hard for a while. But now I feel confident again and I can’t wait to carry on. I was also able to focus on my family and I recently became a dad!
FME - Has the extended family time and birth of your child helped you to refocus on your competitive goals?
Yago - For sure it has, the kid is my motivation, I need to win for him too you know. If I don’t win, I won’t be able to make money, so for me I must win for him.
FME - So the IBJJF Worlds are next, you’ve placed third there previously, how is training going for this year’s Worlds?
Yago - The training is going really well, I have some slight knocks but I’m going to train hard for this, it’s going to be a lot tougher then then the Brasilieros, I will train hard to give my best.
FME - You have a long competitive history with Gabriel Arges the current world champion, tell us about that, and how you feel going into the coming Mundials -
Yago - Me and Gabriel have fought so many times from blue belt. I’ve won some, and he’s won some, he’s a very tough opponent and a favourite in the bracket. It’s always been tough to compete against him, and it will be again if we face off, we still haven’t fought at Black belt yet.
FME - You train with one of the greatest competitors in Jiu Jitsu history, Leandro Lo, in one of the top competition gyms in the world where everyone is a champion, how much of an edge do you feel this gives you at competition?
Yago - For me, it’s very important to have Leandro as one of my team mates. Not only for the training, but it helps with my mind as well, I know I’m training with the absolute best, so I know I will be very well prepared, at Brotherhood I’m training everyday with the toughest and best guys in the world. Every time Leandro talks to me, I really listen, and he motivates me. For me it’s very important to be at brotherhood and training with Leandro.
FME - If you could pick one championship, or title as your favourite, what would it be?
Yago - My absolute favourite competition is the Europeans, I’ve won many throughout the belts. It’s just a good competition as it’s a good trip and I get to see many friends in Europe. And for me the 2016 Europeans stands out for me the most, it was my first black belt year and I won it, and it kicked started a good year where I won the Pan Ams and placed third at the Worlds.
FME - Training at brotherhood, you get to see the future stars of BJJ, who for you stands out and is someone we should look out for?
Yago - Man we had many kids and quality athletes coming up. At the Worlds we have brown belt Caio Caetano who’s tough, Rider Zuchi who’s a beast, I can’t wait to see these guys compete.
FME - Thanks for your time Yago and good luck at the Worlds!!