Luan Carvalho is quickly becoming one of the main stars in the lightweight division. Fresh off his Abu Dhabi World Pro experience, where he defeated the current IBJJF world champion Lucas Lepri, Carvalho is ready to go back to war at the 2016 Brazilian Nationals. Not one to rest on his laurels, after winning last year‘s edition Luan has decided to move up a weight class in an effort to steal the middleweight crown. We spoke to Luan about the challenge ahead, the controversial episode in his match against Lepri at the UAEJJF Worlds and his future career goals.
– You were the subject of the most controversial moment in the Abu Dhabi World Pro last weekend, when the referee declared Lucas Lepri as the winner of your match against him, but the head referee overturned the decision backstage. Tell us how that went down.
Well, Rodrigo Feijao was filming the match and keeping a count on the score as the match progressed. When the match stopped near the end, the referee gave one advantage each, but instead the table guy added two advantages to him [Lepri]. Everyone saw what happened, but in the heat of the moment the referee didn’t listen to the crowd and instead of ending the match with 2×1 advantages for me, he went ahead with the 3×2 that was on the scoreboard and gave Lucas the victory. Minutes after, the technical committee re-watched the footage and repaired the error.
This is what happened. I was desperate at the time, it would have been horrible to lose that way, knowing I had won. But this is history, now it is time to look forward and set new goals.
– You often sign up to the absolute division, competing against bigger guys such as Ruan Oliveira, Cyborg and went up against several larger opponents at Copa Podio. Were these experiences what led you to sign up as a middleweight for the Brazilian Nationals next weekend?
When I found out that the Brasileiro was going to be on the weekend following the World Pro I kind of knew I would compete at middleweight. The short time frame between the two would not give me time to do the weight cut in a good clean way, without debilitating myself. But having had positive results with the bigger guys also played a part as I wanted to challenge myself. Last year I won it as a lightweight, so makes sense for me to move up and get that title in a different weight class.
– You are following a very similar path to that of Leandro Lo, who first made his mark by defeating Michael Langhi and Celso Venicius at the World Pro back in 2011, someone who also likes to challenge himself in the upper weights. In your case, in your first year at black belt, you have surpassed the two most iconic lightweights in the history of the sport. How do you assess this first year and what are your plans for the future?
I want to be world champion, I can’t wait to make this dream come true. I will battle against anyone, I will learn and evolve with each attempt. Everything will be a step towards that goal, and I have no doubt my day will come.
– So you have cleared your visa problems, are we finally going to see Luan competing at IBJJF’s biggest tournament? [E.N. was barred last year by the border patrol when attempting to enter the US for the world championship, and sent back to Brazil]
Everyone stay focussed because Luan is coming. God willing I will get my visa. My lawyer is making arrangements for my visa so I can compete this year.
– If you have any last thoughts or messages, this space is yours.
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Cover photo by William Burkhardt of BJJPix.