This weekend (August 12, 2017) Copa Pódio’s Middleweight Grand Prix will host not one, but three of the most anticipated black belt debuts of recent times. We are, of course, referencing the inauguration of the Brazilian Hugo Marques and the Norwegian double Tommy Langaker/Espen Mathiesen. Part of Kimura/Nova Uniao, Tommy and Espen have been among Europe’s most talked about competitors while rising through the coloured belt ranks in the international Brazilian jiu jitsu circuit, and the fact that they will kick-start their pro careers in a big event such as Copa Pódio proves just that. With that in mind, Brazilian media outlet BJJ Forum contacted Mathiesen to find out how he feels about the big day. This interview – performed by Pedro Almeida, was kindly conceded by the BJJF to BJJ Heroes, which you can read below: BJJF: Espen just one month ago you were promoted to black belt, a process that took 7 years. What was the feeling in the moment of your promotion? Point us 3 key moments in your path to black belt, which you felt were the most important ones for you evolution: EM: I felt very grateful when I got my black belt, because it has been an amazing journey. The sport has changed my life, and I’m excited to see what this new chapter will bring. The moment I stopped believing in talent was crucial for my mindset. My first competition was a key moment as well, because I got really hooked and quit football. The moment I decided to do jitsu full-time has also been extremely important, because it gave me the opportunity to focus 100 % on BJJ. BJJF: There has never been an European IBJJF world champion in the male black belt division. You won major tournaments such as The Pan and the Europeans at brown belt – What do you think you need to do, to conquer your first Gold at the Worlds and became the first European to get there? EM: One of my main goals in jiu-jitsu is to become black belt world champion multiple times. I don’t believe there are any secrets or shortcuts. I will put in a lot of hard work and time will show. BJJF: You will be competing here in Brazil in a 10 min special rule set bout against Isaque Bahiense, with advantages. In your first match with Isaque he won, what do you think that you will need to change to see your hand raised in the end of the bout? EM: I will have to gave my 100 % for me to win, Isaque is a really tough competitor. I have been working really hard and I’m better prepared this time. My plan though is always the same, try to win positions and search for submissions. Before entering the mat, we will see you as a coach leading you time against Isaque’s one in Copa Podio’s Kids Challenge . Teaching is something that you like to do? What do you expect from you time? I have been teaching classes since I was a white belt belt, and it is something I like to do. My team is really solid and I’m excited to see them compete. I will do my best to support and help them. Any Words before saying goodbye? I want to thank my team, Kimura Nova União and everyone who supports me. Also a special thanks to Moka Hardware. A big thanks to Copa podio as well, for inviting me to the event.