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It is often called the best kick KO in UFC history, but when asked about it, Gabriel “Napao” Gonzaga is humble, even bashful, as related in an interview with Tatate during a recent visit to his former home of Barra da Tijuca, Brazil.
“This fight was very important because it was a nice kick and at the same time the KO," said Gonzaga. "It’s not about winning the fight, but it was a perfect coup. I remember the moment I imagined to finish the fight. I knew it was close and I thought: ‘I’ll kick him as hard as I can. He’s gonna block it, I’ll take two steps backwards and I’ll score some points with the judges’. He didn’t block it and you could all see what happened: the knockout."
“I’m not proud of it, I’m even embarrassed. I’m very shy when people say things like that. I’m embarrassed if you bring me up when you’re right next to me. I’m no different from anybody, I just got lucky I landed that kick. Many people say it was lucky and it really was, but I knew what I was doing. I was just lucky it happened when I was being filmed. I’ve always trained to knock someone out like that. There are only few times these things happen”.
Marcelo Barone: Last year you seemed focused on teaching. Where did this change come from?
Gabriel Gonzaga: I teach since 1999 when I became a brown belt at Jiu-Jitsu. I’ve never stopped. Winning or losing I keep teaching Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to my students and I’ve been graduating black belts ever since. And that’s exactly where my motivation came from: all my students told me I shouldn’t stop, that I should go on. I got some written letters from fans saying I’ve changed their lived with some fights I did, that I inspired them and they live now a better life because of me. It gave me objectivity to get there and show a good example for people. You can’t buy this kind of thing: being a role model to people so they can live better lives. Life’s a suffering, so it’s a reward. Some letters touched me and I said ‘it’s what I like to do and I do it well. So, let’s do it’. But I can’t control the results but what I have control of are my training.
Marcelo Barone: Did you go to America to train?
Gabriel Gonzaga: I move there with Marco Alvan and I opened a new gym: Team Link. We didn’t have the name yet. I went there to fight ADCC 2005 and I had him as my corner. From then on, we’ve started a business arrangement and he brought me to teach on the United Stated. When I first got there he came up with the idea of me coming back to MMA. I’ve fought and conquest some things when I was from Macaco Gold Team, but that was not my focus. MMA was never my focus but he told me this: “I’ll try to get you in the UFC and I’ll talk to people I know." I only became a professional after I went there because it was a hobby for me until then.
MB: What do you do when you’re not fighting?
GG: I’m kinda geek. I like doing things on the computer, watch YouTube videos, videos about solar energy and things like that. I really like being at the computer but what I love the most is training. It’s a hobby of mine. It’s not only a profession teaching and fighting. I like to train, going to the gym, putting the gi on and train with white belts, blue belts, brown belts… I don’t train to evolve. It’s like playing soccer. Sometimes you don’t fight just to smash the other team, but you go there and play for a whiles. Many times I go to the gym because I’m stressed out.
Read entire interview...
Gabriel Gonzaga currently teaches at Team Link - Worcester, call 508.926.875 or 508.494.4709
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