Training Under the Rio Sun and Inside the Rio MMA Scene

This week, as always, brought great training as well as some awesome experiences in the Rio MMA scene. It filled with sunny days perfect for a post-training acai or agua de coco at the beach.

This blog is written by Connection Rio team member Torryn Heffelfinger. He blogs weekly on life and training BJJ, wrestling and MMA in Rio de Janeiro. In the following excerpt from his weekly blog “Training the Dream”, he talks about the MMA scene in Rio and training BJJ outdoors at the Connection Rio house.

Outdoor Training in Rio
With the past weekend’s Rio Open (which I unfortunately was unable to compete in), the CR houses are still filled with many great competitors, which made for excellent training.

On Monday the sun was out and the air was warm but not too hot, so Dennis decided to teach his class out on Premiere house’s top deck. The class was large and included experienced grapplers at all belt levels including four black belts staying at CR.


There was Dennis, Raphael Simoes (an accomplished Gordo BB), Tony (a second degree from LA), and Fernando (a 4th degree under Mario Sperry from Porto Alegre). Rolling was intense but fun. Having a chance to roll with four black belts from different schools gave me a great look at many different (and dominating) styles. For me the class was a big lesson on how there is no “right way” of BJJ styles–there is a “right way” concerning BJJ technique– but your style and theory behind your techniques can vary from one person to the next with each being able to find success. So now I just need to focus on my “style”, continue to correct my technique and carry on down the road.

Out in Rio’s MMA Scene
I also had the great opportunity to go behind the scenes this week leading up to UFC 163 here in Rio. Due to some Visa issues MMA Spirit fighter Sheila Gaff was short on corner men. Dennis went to see if he could help out. Luckily I happened to be with him and Antoine when they went down to the hotel where the UFC was setting up shop for fight week. While I see and train with a lot of fighters from the UFC, it was still a bit surreal to be behind signs reading “Fighters, Training Camps, and UFC Personnel Only”. We entered the press room and there was Mike Goldberg just tapping away at his computer. Soon things got straightened out and we were asked to stick around and watch Sheila train.

Until the slated workout time we relaxed in the lobby, many fighters, trainers and managers passing through. It’s times like these that I realize how many people I have met since moving to Rio. I saw a lot of familiar faces and was able to talk with and catch up with a few people I hadn’t seen in a while.

Soon it was time to go down to the UFC workout room, which had bags, a scale and specialized UFC mats laid out. I was asked if I wanted to train with Daniel Weichell, a very accomplished fighter from MMA Spirit who fights for M-1. We spent about a half hour of solid wrestling both of us fighting hard for position. My timing was off which was frustrating, but I still wrestled well.


Friday came quickly this week and Nicole and I headed down to the UFC weigh-ins at HSBC Arena. We had good seats and had a great view of the weigh-ins. After they finished we headed back to CR met up with a bunch of others and headed into Larenjeiras to WOCS (Watch Out Combat Show). The fights were fast paced and there were some excellent finishes, as well as some all out battles. When the show finished Dennis got us down to the main floor and we met some big names including Pedro Rizzo, Eric Silva, and the President of WOCS.

We finished the week off by relaxing at the beach and watching UFC 163 at one of the great local bars here in Barra with friends. It was a great way to cap off another great week in Rio.


From training and accommodation to academy visits and special tours, and even small group classes with the best teachers Rio has to offer, Connection Rio offers everything you need for the perfect jiu-jitsu holiday!

Take a look at our brochure – we’ve got houses with pools, huge gardens, and apartments next to the beach: all within 30 seconds walk of top BJJ gyms in Rio!

Connection Rio is the best combination of accommodation and BJJ training in Rio de Janeiro. Contact us today and plan your trip to train BJJ in Rio!

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