NOVEMBER 27, 2020. A few weeks ago, listeners of Josh Hinger‘s & Kennan Cornelius‘ entertaining podcast, The Mat Burn, heard the scoop of Lucas Barbosa‘s likely transition to mixed martial arts (MMA).
Barbosa has been one of the most successful athletes in jiu-jitsu’s pro-circuit over the past 5 years, holding an IBJJF World title with the gi, 3 Pan American gold medals, 4 World No-Gi titles, and a bronze medal at the ADCC, making this switch to cage-fighting a very big deal for us grappling fans. Part of us is excited to see “The Hulk” – Lucas’ adequate nickname – perform in the cage, and another is certainly sad to see a grappler as exciting as Barbosa leave the sport we love.
Although the revelation released by The Mat Burn podcast is real, we couldn’t leave it as second-hand information and decided to contact Mr. Barbosa for more details regarding his eminent career change.
“Unfortunately there is more money in MMA,” Lucas told BJJ Heroes in an interview this week, “I love jiu-jitsu, but if MMA gives me a better financial return, that is where I will be headed“.
This is not Hulk’s first dive into cage fighting, he had his first fight when he was 18 years old, back in 2010. “I trained MMA for two years, from when I was 18 up to 20 and had 3 pro-fights“, he explained, “it was after this that I decided to turn my focus fully to BJJ, where I built my career, but right now, I want to test myself again. I’ve conquered most of the main titles in grappling already so it is a good time to turn towards MMA.”
Although unexpected to grappling fans, this move might not come as a big shock to those in Barbosa’s close circle. Throughout the years, Hulk has continued to do pad work and keep his hands tight for a possible return to the cage, as explained by Barbosa:
“I’ve always sparred a bit of MMA and kept working on the pads. Lately, I’m just putting more emphasis on this. Turned the training up a bit, but I am still open to and training jiu-jitsu. When I have an MMA fight booked, that is when I will focus all my energy on MMA. (…) I am not training full time, at the moment I train here at Atos [Headquarters in San Diego, CA] with a few training partners who have MMA experience, when I have a fight booked I will seek to do a camp somewhere, I am still studying the range of possibilities with regards to training“.
As for the fight itself, the aim is to be officially throwing leather with 4-ounce gloves by February 2021. “I don’t have an agent yet. I’ve been discussing this [the date] with [André] Galvão, and although we haven’t set anything in stone, we’re aiming towards February at the latest.”
So there you have it, Lucas is getting ready for his return to the cage, which will likely happen early in 2021.