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Interview with Marcel Goncalves, the Game Changer

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Last week we mentioned a new grappling tournament with an all star cast, emerging from Naples, Florida – USA. The event, named Grappling Pro Championship, has been designed by a long time jiu jitsu competitor and a black belt under Roberto “Cyborg” Abreu named Marcel Goncalves – who has also competed extensively in mixed martial arts (MMA).

Competing in MMA was an eye opening experience for Marcel, who is now pushing for a unique set of rules to help build a bridge between grappling and cage fighting, the rounds being one of the unequivocal Grappling Pro additions that will serve as a link between the two combat styles.

There have been plenty of heated debates throughout internet forums over which rules are the best in the sport of jiu jitsu, Marcel has played them all and is an “all inclusive” kind of guy, mentioning that he has “been competing for long time, over 10 years now. I am very critic about things, but I learned that we should embrace all the rules, they all intend to make the sport better, safer or more exciting. I see a lots of new rules coming up and this is great for the sport. I just put together something that I hadn’t seen yet, to better our sport.”

Marcel and his wife have dedicated the past few months to this project, partnering up with Ross Kellin of Copa America for his experience in organising smooth running tournaments. Like many visionaries whose ideas (when first expressed) weren’t immediately taken in by the mainstream, Goncalves’ plan has not been funded by big grappling or MMA brands. Instead it has been built on his own savings, the help of students, as well as local sponsors such as ESP Waste Management of Naples, Family Foot and Leg Center, BugFree Services, Motamma, The Greater Naples of YMCA, HBKS Wealth Advisors, CPAs, & Consultants, as well as Dry Titans. But Marcel knew this going into this project:

“It is difficult to expect everyone to show up when you are presenting a completely new idea. I think it is something that will warm up to people when they see it. That’s why I put such a high prize money for the pro tournament, because these athletes are going to be the ones who will launch this idea, and get people excited to compete in these new rules.”

Indeed the cast layed out for the pro tournament of this event is stacked with incredible talent such as Lucas “Hulk” Barbosa, Enrico Coco, Gabriel Rollo, Victor Silvério, Garry Tonon and DJ Jackson. One of the more interesting match-ups in the event, is that between Jackson and Tonon, two athletes with a long history, who have exchanged words through their social media accounts, making this one of the hottest potential match-ups of the year.

DJ has had the upper hand so far, though Garry gained a whole lot of experience since they last fought, piling up a massive jiu jitsu following in the process. We asked Marcel if he would pair the two against each other in the first round, and have them settle their “feud” at Grappling Pro. Marcel explained that this would be unlikely, though he does expect the match to happen at his event: “Those two guys make the tournament even more interesting. I’m excited to watch them compete, but I don’t want to get them on the first round. I will probably put them against an up-and-coming athlete first, and match them for their 2nd match. It will be easier for these guys to meet on the 2nd round, get them warmed up first.”

Regarding that line-up, just last week one of the big names of Grappling Pro Championship roster, Victor Silvério, exited the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam (LA) final due to a dislocated shoulder. Out of competition for a while, Silvério is a big loss to the event: “I have spoken to Victor, and I wish him a speedy recovery. He was one of the first guys we wanted on the show, and I know he was very excited to participate in these rules.” Marcel said. “He was giving me great feedback about the rules and we messaged each other a lot. I am very sad that he won’t be able to make it, but he is helping me get someone to fill his spot, probably someone from GFT.”

Silvério’s mishap has caused a gap in the tournament’s line-up, and with another spot to fill, time is of the essence. But rest assure, Marcel has got the tournament well under control – “We still have these spots left, but I have some high level people interested, Fred Moncaio is one of them. I also have Hunter Edwald. I didn’t want to put him [Hunter] at first, because he is a member of my team [Fight Sports] and we already have Enrico Coco representing, but if I cannot find a substitute on time I will add him and put Enrico and Hunter on opposite sides of the bracket.” Hunter is a grappling prodigy from Hawaii and one of the rising stars of our sport, a serious candidate that would indeed enhance the tournament. But regardless of who we will see filling up the vacancy, with the knowledge of Marcel doing the match-making, you can trust that this will be a show to remember.

Grappling Pro Championship –

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