Interview: Pablo Popovitch with Sherdog Members
Every now and then I like to let members pick out the questions themselves so that they get to talk to them directly. This time, we were lucky enough to get an interview with a guy I respect a lot. He is an amazing grappler, humble, nice and really funny.
I was able to collect quite a few questions from fans on sherdog and sent them to Pablo. I told him he could pick the questions he wanted to answer, since there was so many and he ended up answering them all. For those of you that do know him, you know how generous and down to earth this guy is. For those of you that don’t know him, Pablo is….
- ADCC Champion (2009)
- 2x World Nogi Champion (2010, 2007)
- 3x Pan American Nogi Champion (2010 weight and absolute, 2008)
- Grapplers Quest Pro Allstar Champion (2009)
- 2x NAGA Champion (2007, 2001 advanced)
- 5x NAGA Superfight Champion (2x 2005, 2x 2004, 2003)
- 2x Grapplers Quest Superfight Champion (2010, 2004)
- Copa America Champion (2010 absolute – CBJJE)
1. Pablo what do you think is the best way for a guard player to transfer his game over to MMA?
-To train a lot of MMA and understand what positions will work on the transition. A lot changes when someone is punching you in the face, jiu-jitsu becomes more basic and techniques needs to be more precise.
2.What part of your game would you like to improve the most on,or does he see something more people should work on that they dont.
-I always want to improve my game, I’ve been working on my bottom game a lot. You have to work on your game in phases. I feel like my overall game is really good, but there is always room to improve.
3.How frequently did he train early in his career, and was there a turning point where he started really hammering the training? Basically did he always train hard, right from the get-go or did it become a bigger part of his life as time went on?
-I always trained hard, Im used to the hard core training and I hate losing. So training hard and staying focus was always a part of my routine.
4.Who what the tuffest guy he ever grappled with?
-There are so many, hard to point out someone.
5.What instructor does he respect the most?
-Renzo Gracie, Jean Jaque Machado, Jacare, Fabio Gurgel, Carlos Gracie, Lloyd Irvin to name a few.
6.Aside from himself, which instructor out there seems to produce the most talent?
-Renzo Gracie, Jacare, Carlos Gracie and Lloyd Irvin.
7.Is there any respectful way you can ask about steroid use (not him specifically, just in the sport in general)?
-People use it in every sport, are there any real benefits? Maybe if done right (It helps on recovery and strength gains) . Everyone wants to win and at this level people will do anything to win. Sometimes the guy ripped and looking in great shape doesn’t necessarily means he is using steroids. Skinny guys use steroids as well, with the amount of energy spent training and the type of steroid being used some people gain no muscle or definition.
8. Have you ever been in a street fight?
-lol yeah many, growing up in Brazil there is no way you cannot be in street fight. A good story was when I changed high schools in the US. It was my first week at the new school, I was about 15.. Upon arrival on this particular day, around 8m some guy pushed me from behind really hard . I got really mad and I asked him what was up. He said ” Whats up what”, then I double leg him, he sprawl really hard defending the takedown and I ended up on the bottom. I remember triangle him and punching him on the face like 20 times. I could not finish the triangle, he stood up to try to punch me and I swept him. Once I got to the top position, I manage to go straight to mount. Punched him a couple times on the face and he turned his back on me. From there I rear naked choke him until he went to sleep. All happened really quick. After the fact had occurred I found out that he was the captain of the football team, weighted around 260lbs and was known to bully everyone at the school. Still I got expelled from that particular school and had to go somewhere else. The principal got mad because I didn’t have a scratch on me and the guy was a mess. I only weighted 150lbs at the time lol.
9. Does he make a concerted effort to resist the urge to utilize strength or does he embrace his advantages at the highest levels of the sport?
-I use all I got. It all blends in into one at the highest level. Everyone is really strong at my level, so i need to be very good at everything.
10. What mistake did he make in the ADCC 2011 absolute-division final that allowed Galvao to submit him with that toehold?
-The mistake was that I went for the toe hold, cranked his foot but my ankle was injured for the past 6 months really bad. I felt the pain much quicker than Galvao did. Keep in mind that I had a 40 minute match with Xande Ribeiro right before and I was super tired.
11.What changes in his techniques and/or training is he going to make so that he can avenge his losses to Galvao and put another winning streak together?
-Its not about changes in technique but rather my training was really affected by personal problems this year. I lost my mom in a landslide accident in /january and my dad was hospitalized all the way until December. Going through 5 different surgeries throughout the year. I spent 4 months in Brazil not training, since January and it was a really hard time for me.I came back to train but my mind was still with my dad and the loss of my mom. I resumed my training around june but I suffered a terrible ankle injury that finally half healed in August . I trained for about 4 weeks,fought injured and I gave my very best. Not Galvao faults that this happened to me, all merits to him and he was the best that day but I wasn’t 100% or even near it. Life goes on and we will face each other again, hopefully I will be 100%
12. In a prior interview, Pablo said that his strategy against high-caliber wrestlers is to play to their weaknesses and leg lock them. What would his strategy be against a leg-lock terror like Rousimar Palhares?
-Rousimar is great on leg locks but thats all he does, his weakness was showed against Galvao. I would take him down and play a tight top game against him.
13. Submission grappling is always evolving. What changes did he notice at ADCC this year? What are his predictions for where the sport is heading?
-This year due to the mats being so slippered it benefited all the foot lock/leg lock guys. It was so hard to take people down, the mats were placed on top of a ice skating ring and they were freezing. Once you started the match the ice would melt down and it would become really hard to take people down or pass their guard.
14. All of his wins at ADCC this year were by points. Is that a natural byproduct of his grappling style or does he want to increase his finishing percentage?
-Like I said I wasn’t 100% and it was really hard to impose my game. My mind wasn’t on the game at all. I did what I could to win.
15.Would he like to compete against Marcelo Garcia again in order to rebut any controversy about his win over Marcelo at ADCC 2009?
-Sure, anytime, anywhere.
16.What did he learn from the MMA fight he had last year?
-I learned that when you gain any good position you cannot be a nice guy and you need to pound on your opponents face
17.Does he plan to compete in MMA in the future?
-Yeah, I’ll compete more inn MMA this year.
18.What does he think high-level grapplers need to do in order to successfully transition to MMA?
-Train a lot and understand you need to blend all forms of arts into one,
19.Some people were surprised when he released his latest DVD because it is focused on the guard, a position that he often avoids in competition. Does he think that his guard game is underrated because he spends so much time on top?
-I spend time on top because I choose too, every time I worked from the bottom, I either swept or submitted people. My bottom game is as good as my top game.
20. lol I know I should ask a BJJ question but I can’t get over his rippedness. What do I gotta do to look like that
-Speed up your metabolism by eating every 3 hours, avoid eating carbs at night. Train a lot and start using some weight lost products would help to.
21. How much weight training does he do and what’s his routine? Also what’s his diet like
– 2 to 3 times a week. Diet consist mostly on eating every 3 hours and a lot of training. Im genetically gifted, that helps too
(Here is an awesome video with some great work out ideas from the guys over at Jiu-Jitsu Mania)
22. if pablo could study one more martial art to make him a complete fighter, what would it be?
23. Pablo vs Roger Gracie or Rodolfo Veira? What are his thoughts?
-If I’m 100% It would be a war, I’ll play strategy and win.