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Vale Tudo in Papucaia, RJ Brazil 2004

    Mon, 2004-09-20 13:41 — Lincoln Smith

    Ximu from GBVT put together a great little Vale Tudo about an hour outside of the city of Rio in Papucaia. OTM's own Linc has the scoop for us.

    I had agreed to meet Scotty at his door 10 minutes ago, but I was only a couple blocks away, which is early when you take "Brazilian time" into account. My phone rang and I fished it out of my bag. It was Scotty, calling to inform me that he was fueling the vehicle. Minutes pass and before too long Scotty and crew pull-up. With him are: Sam, a legitimate journalist from Massachusetts and Nick, whom I know from training in Boulder. Everyone ducks in to gather their belongings together for the trip. Papucaia is an hour north of Rio, give or take, but our directions to the venue are a bit vague, so it´s really up in the air as to how long it might take to reach our destination. Therefore, Scott thought it best to consider the possibility of getting room at a hotel should the drive back to Rio prove to be more trouble than its worth. Clouds are thick and rain is imminent, which could prove to be a rather moist haul should it decide to come down. Since we are in a soft top Jeep with no windows. Ten minutes of toiling and we´re off, stopping only so that Nick can withdraw cash from an ATM. It was at this time when Scotty checked to see if he remembered his wallet. Apparently he did not. So it´s back to the house we go so that Scotty can retrieve his wallet while the rest of us wait in the Jeep. Maybe 8 minutes go by before Scotty calls me on my phone again. He asks me to look in the back pocket of a pair of jeans he had packed in his bag to see if his wallet is there. I do. It is. So Scotty comes back down and this time we´re really set. I´ve been here for about 8 weeks and really haven`t seen much of Rio proper save for some brief stints into Ipanema, so I was anxious to see what lay beyond the friendly and insulated perimeter of Barra. Papucaia is a rural suburb of Rio, about 1 hours travel time from Rio by car, give or take. The route taking us there goes through the North end of town, which is a far, far cry from the beach communities of the "zona sul" that they advertise in travel brochures. To our right we spotted a large fire blazing bright orange ten feet high at the foot of the overpass. As we passed it we could see about 4 or 5 dogs, accompanied by a rather large pig rummaging through the massive heap of rubbish as it burned... an image I won`t soon forget. This is the part of Rio that spawned Luta Livre, (A fighting system with which Jiu-jitsu has had a long-standing rivalry, though both styles share some technical similarities.) On one side of the highway you have government sanctioned housing projects for the poor. On the other side, you have shanty town favelas. Apparently, as Scotty explains, there is a section of this highway that is known as "The Red Line." The inhabitants of the projects and the residents of the favelas are given to quarreling with each other, which often leads to the discharge of firearms, with the highway acting as a neutral "no-mans-land." When these squirmishes erupt, it is not uncommon for an innocent motorist to get caught in the crossfire, hence the name, "The Red Line." The slums dissipated to a more industrial district with large structures and warehouses, which were eventually followed by the shipyards and massive waterfronts which finally gave way to less dense settlements and open road. The occasional road sign or billboard punctuates stretches of darkness in the narrow bumpy road. 2 toll stations, 5 roadside fires and 3 inquiries to insure that we were on the right track, our destination was reached. At the port of entry we pause to deliberate where to go from here. Since there are 4 of us, Scott needs to requisition two more tickets from the promoter. Scott is dialing on his cel phone when he recognizes a large group of men, one of which is well over 6 feet and has biceps as large as my head. They are all wearing matching t-shirts and are obviously there for the fights. It turned out to be legendary Luta Livra fighter Eugenio Tadeu and his team. Eugenio is probally best know for his match with Renzo Gracie where the lights were turned off during the fight and a riot broke out between the Jiu Jitsu fighters and the Luta Livra fighters. Luckly Scotty knows everyone and after pleasantries are exchanged, we are able to attach ourselves, much like a pilot fish with a shark, to the initial body of their total bulk as they are given entrance onto the grounds. The space was larger than what I had expected. We found ourselves roaming past numerous concession stands, livestock auctions, a contest to determine the best crop of produce, a massive soundstage with enough amplitude to ruin your chances of ever spawning offspring, a blow up moon-bounce and other, low-maintenance rides for the kiddies, display models of multchers and wood-chippers, goats, rabbits, calves, roosters and peafowl and a rodeo that had wound down just as we got there. Oh, yeah... there was also a standard sized ring for the fights, illuminated comparably from a suitable scaffold set in a table formation. There was also a sizeable screen upon which was projected various fights from other, more established promotions. Save for the tent provided for the fighters to prep, everything was outside and at the mercy of the weather, which was looking potentially dire. Precipitation was misting down, but the droplets were steadily growing in size. Everyone had brought their raincoat except for Nick, who didn´t bring anything. (Nice one, bro.) He was obviously cold so I offered him my hooded sweatshirt, which was about two sizes too small for him and looked totally "gay." It was 7:00 and the fights were scheduled to begin at 8:00. With an hour to kill we decided to walk around. Scotty was anxious to give the mechanical bull a try. With the large, inflatable mattress surrounding the crash-zone, it appeared safe enough. Scotty, our fearless leader, was quick to fork over the bread to a very reassuring and supportive gentleman who operated the beast, nothing like the speed-addled carnies I had known from my mid-southern childhood. Scotty took his mount in a most "manly" way, never looking back. Sam knew that this would be "a moment" and stood ready with his camera. Scotty held his ball cap aloft to convey his readiness and without warning, the thing reared underneath him, jerking maniacally as the hydraulics hissed beneath the tarp of spotted cow-hyde. He was felled within seconds. But Scotty would not be denied and was back in the saddle in no time. Again, the beast bucked and Scott appeared to have difficulty finding his rhythm. And again, found himself being thrown. Scotty remained dauntless in the face of overwhelming odds and resumed his post with the same results. The man at the controls urged him to persist, but Scotty amicably declined, mentioning something about nearly losing his tackle on that last one. I call Scott a "pussy" under my breath, though surrender was the smartest option available. With under an hour ago, food seems appropriate. If we weren´t hungry at that moment, we knew that we would be later and that would be once the fights were underway. Luckily there were servers handing out laminated menus where there were tables and place-settings arranged under a canopied, cement structure. We ordered some chicken as well as beef. This was accompanied by rice, fries and a whopping pile of farofa, a seasoning made from a local root that looks like sand. We ate fast and spoke little, still buzzing a bit from the drive and darkness and unfamiliarity of everything. A large screen next to the soundstage displayed rock videos and the sound system echoed across the grounds, betraying the vastness of the place that otherwise was not perceptible. We polished-off our food without incident and began walking back towards the ring. Droplets of water glistened like glitter in the grass. It was 8:00 and the turn-out looked nil, plenty of heads, but most of them were either assisting with their fighters in some capacity or toiling with various production tasks, which at this point seemed to be trying to safeguard expensive, electrical equipment from possible rain. Slabs of plywood were placed on the canvas tarp of the ring to offer some protection from the moisture. Scotty was chatting with one of the promoters and reported back to us that it was another hour delay due to weather. We milled about aimlessly, exchanging greetings with people we recognized from Gracie Barra and looking at the animals, simply because they seemed to be kept in the driest places available. Time dragged us by the ankles, but eventually we were able to take our soaked seats and report on what we came here to see. The first two fights were Muay Thai match, set for 3 rounds of 3 minutes each. The first (Under 70 kg) was won by Raphael Vinicius who defeated Anderson Berreto [Andre Rouberte] by TKO and the second (Under 80 kg) was between Diego Braga (Gracie Barra Combat Team) and Ernani Cunha (Raphael Vinicius) and was halted due to a cut above the eye of Diego Braga. No one seemed to get his feelings hurt too bad and the decision was declared "No Contest." The third fight on the card was vale tudo, the first of six, set for 3 rounds of 5 minutes each. This was between Eduardo Filipe (Beto Padilha) and Erinaldo "Pit Bull" (Gracie Barra Combat Team) in the -66 kg class . Round one Filipe got the take down from which Pit Bull was able to secure closed guard. They clinched in this position for a bit. From here Pit Bull was able to wriggle out from underneath and get to his feet, driving Filipe back with blows. Eduardo ducked and shot-in for another takedown and Pit Bull went to his guard. From here a scramble ensued and Pit Bull was able to secure a takedown. Filipe closed his guard around Erinaldo and attempted an armbar. This provided Pit Bull an opportunity to begin pounding down on Filipe while still inside Filpe´s guard. Filipe was able to retreat enough to get back onto his feet though Pit Bull persisted with strikes. Filipe was able to seize a take-down, laning in Pit Bull´s closed guard before time was called. Round 2: Pit Bull came out more aggressive, shooting for a single leg on Filipe and getting it, however, Filipe was able to worm his way into a clench without getting taken to the canvas. Filipe was then able to work a takedown, Pit Bull, again, going to his guard. Here the two fighters stagnated and ref decided to start them again on their feet, which did little to change things as Filipe dove-in for another takedown and Pit Bull was able to get back to his guard easily enough before the second round concluded. Round 3: Pit Bull still worked on Filipe from inside his guard, though not with as much intensity as the previous round, both seemed to be moving enough to prevent the ref from standing them back up. There was a scramble and Filipe was able to get on top, but not before the clock ran out. The victory went to Pit Bull by majority decision. FIGHT 4 (-81 kg) Eduardo "Pachu" (Gracie Barra Combat Team) vs. Flavio "Bad Boy" (Beto Padilha) The two fighters came on very aggressively, exchanging blows attmting take-downs. The rain picke-up a bit and drops could be seen falling through the beams of the floodlights. The mat was obviously slick and accounted for the difficulty with which both attempted to maintain their balance. It was also difficult take in much of the action as Flavio´s trainers had ensconced themselves directly in my line of sight. I was able to see the fighters go to the ground with Eduardo on top. In a flurry of trainers´ backs and screams I could see Eduardo quickly get to his feet and deliver a kick to the face of Flavio that seemed to stop everything in its tracks. Flavio immediately spit his mouthpiece out had enough to where I could see it ark in the air. From there, Flavio moved very little and a tiny crown of coaches and officials began to pool themselves around him. Amidst the chaos and the rain, a medical professional was able to assess the damage and a stretcher was brought out. Emotions were running high during this time between the two camps, but cooler heads prevailed and Flavio was removed from the ring. I cannot say if Eduardo had been disqualified because of the kick to the face while Flavio was still on the ground, but apparently the match had been declared "No Contest." FIGHT 5 (-68 kg) Fredson Paixao (Gracie Barra Combat Team) vs. Andre "Lobo" Rodrigues (Beto Padilha) This match would prove to be one of the evening`s most exciting. A gamely Fredson stalked Andre across the tarp. When feeling that he was running out of room to retreat, Andre launched a few punches in hopes of maybe gaining some space. Fredson lowered his level and shot in with precision, seizing Andre by both legs, hoisting him high in the air and planting him with authority onto the canvas. Wasting no time, Fredsom worked for superior position and attained full mount from which he repeatedly tattooed Andre´s face and head with timed, deliberate punches, literally beating Andre into submission. Fredson displayed exceptional skill, covering every aspect of the game from head to toe. FIGHT 6 (-81 kg) Felipe "Mongo" Arinelli (WFC) vs. Louis "Beicao" Ramos (Gracie Barra Combat Team) Louis was able to get the takedown from early on to which Felipe responded by closing his guard. Louis began to deliver punches from inside, causing Felipe to open his guard. Louis went to his feet whereas Felipe remained on his back, with his feet poised in the air and trying to hammer down on the insteps of Louis with the heels of his feet. Eventually Felipe was able to stand up and they went back to work. From a clench, Louis was able to work a takedown, but could not conclude before the bell rang. Round 2: Both fighters locke-up and clenched in the corner. Louis pulled Felipe into his guard where Felipe sought to land repeated strikes to Louis´ ribs and mid-section. Neither were able to gain the advantage before the clock ran out. Round 3: Felipe´s trainers were replacing his left glove for some reason, which took more time than the standard minute interval between rounds. This delay was much to the displeasure of the opposite corner which they expressed verbally from across the ring. The ref, however, saw no reason to intercede too since both fighters were recieving the same amount of down-time. It took a few minutes, but Felipe was once again back on his feet and ready to go back to work. (In this round Felipe seemed more determined and persisted in attacking with conviction. Louis tied Felipe up in a clench against the ropes where Felipe was able to gain a takedown. Louis was able to get to his guard and the bell rang -- the unanimous decision going to Felipe Arinelli. FIGHT 7 (-80 kg) Alexandre "Baixinho" Barros (Gracie Barra Combat Team) vs. Mauricio Reis (Indio) Barros was able to get is hands on Reis and take him down with Reis going immediately to half-guard. Here the fight became stagnant and the ref stood them up. Reis launched a flurry of strikes, but Barros was able to evade by dropping his level and securing another takedown, with Reis, again, going to his half-guard. Here Barros was able to stay on top and achieve the full mount, raining down punches to Reis´ face and head with impunity. The ref called to halt the match and the victory was awarded to Alexandre Barros by TKO. FIGHT 8 (-88 kg) Flavio Louis Mouras (Gracie Barra Combat Team) vs. Everton "Gigante" (Shotokan Cabo-Frio) Another great match, Flavio Moura shot in with determination to get the takedown. Everton went to his guard. Everton felt Flavio was going to pass and kicked frantically from his back. In spite of this, Flavio passed like a man who knew what the fuck he was doing. Everton turtled to all fours and Flavio quickly slapped on a guillotine. Everton tapped. Flavio won. I really don`t know what else to tell you beyond that. Short and sweet, like haiku poetry. It was awesome. I feel as though I should give some special mention to the trophy girl. She wore a short, black, spaghetti strap dress; a bright, "cheeky" face... she smiled big; had long, bleached hair that draped down her back. Each time she appeared to award another trophy to, yet, another victor, the men in the crowd would cheer, each time more exuberantly than the last to which she reciprocated with bolder, more broad gestures to the point where the crowd eventually had her pirouetting on command. So by the time the superfight had rolled around, the time between matches and the official decision resembled something like some liberal-arts, hippy, dance class when everyone is given a 2 minute window to "express" themselves (Don´t laugh. I´ve been there. It ain´t pretty.) and there was our girl... smack dab in the middle of it... pirouetting her little heart out. SUPERFIGHT (-93 kg) Danilo "Moto-Serra" (Gracie Barra Combat Team) vs. Rodrigo "Riscado" Gripp (Campos JJ/RVT) Gripp showed formidable defensive skills from his open guard, but wasn`t quite able to muster the leverage to ever gain top position or initiate formidable submissions from on bottom. Danilo chiseled away at his open guard, but was never able to get in close enough to threaten him more than just a little. Blood was spilled in the process and the fight persisted with a lot of motion and pulse, but with little in exchange as far as each fighters´ positional role was concerned. Gripp mostly stayed on bottom, defending from open guard and Danilo remained on top, never getting in deep enough to do serious damage and things remained this way through each round. The decision went to Danilo, if for anything, being more consistent, imposing and level headed in implementing his strategy. Though the weather was less than ideal, a sizeable crowd had accumulated and the stands did fill to capacity. As we adjourned ourselves from our seats we could see across the field in the distance the soundstage coming to life with what appeared to be a Brazilian Michael Bolten. This made the temptation to remain only greater, but we were able to tear ourselves away. We had a chance to congratulate Fredson on his great win before piling into the Scott mobile and high-tailing it back to Rio. On the way home we passed through two police check-points without having to actually stop, get out, be patted down and have some small amount of cash extorted from us, which is always a good thing.

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