On Sunday I participated in the Festival de Lutas Contra o Crack, which translated means festival of fights against crack. It was a multi-sport show to raise money and awareness for the fight against crack cocaine in Rio de Janeiro. The event was put on by BTT founder (and former UFC Champ) Murilo Bustamante. Working with Rio Sports Officials, Murilo set up 18 different fights in boxing, bjj, judo, mma and wrestling.
This blog is written by Connection Rio team member Torryn Heffelfinger. He’ll be blogging weekly on life and training BJJ in Rio de Janeiro. In the following excerpt from his weekly blog “Training the Dream”, he talks about his recent match wrestling in Brazil against a member of the national team.
Before I had injured my leg Antoine had asked if I would like to participate in a wrestling match at the even. I agreed and began training hard (which was how I had hurt my leg). After being hurt my main concern was recovering and I wasn’t sure if I would be participating. In the end I felt good enough to compete, especially for such a good cause. In the days leading up to the competition I drilled lightly to find out what I could and couldn’t do with my ankle.
Festival de Lutas Contra O Crack
On Sunday morning I headed to the Tijuca Tenis Clube to compete. The gymnasium was set up with a boxing ring and judo/bjj mat on one end, the cage in the middle, and the newly donated FILA mat at the other end. Wrestling was the first sport to be displayed with three matches. The other two matches featured a South American Games Medalist, and also a women’s match between Brazil’s Olympic Wrestling Representative in London and a woman from the Argentinian National Team.
Wrestling in Brazil – The Match
My match was against Felipe, who is a member of the Brazilian National Greco-Roman Team, and was the last match for wrestling. After warming up on the mats we were sent backstage under the arena and waited to be announced out. I heard my name called off and walked out to the mat. There was a ton of press and being announced as an American Wrestler a lot of eyes were on me. I went out calm and ready to have some fun.
While it was a good natured and friendly match for a good cause it was still a match. Felipe was strong and tied up with me and snapped me down to a front headlock. I tried to defend but was unable to escape and he forced me out of bounds, which gave him a 1-0 lead. We restarted and I shot in on a head outside single, I cut the angle low and got the takedown. It’s been years since I have done either Freestyle or Greco and I didn’t even come to turning him. I was able to use angles and hit some nice shots.
As the period ended I was up 7-1. In the corner Pirata, who was coaching me, told me to be careful because he was a Greco guy and not to go upper body with him. We came back out for the second period and Felipe surprised me with a quick low single, which I just barely defended. I tied up and tried a slide-by, but he defended, countered, and scored on me. I scored a takedown off a scramble, which Felipe answered back with a takedown of his own off another scramble.By this time I played it smart choosing my ties and being careful not to hurt my ankle. I saw an opening and hit a nice hard double which I finished on the edge. Time was short and in the last few seconds during a scramble I tweaked my ankle- nothing serious but it still hurt like hell.
The match was over and I won 10-5. I want to say I’m glad it was a freestyle match. If it had been greco it would have been tougher and things could have easily gone the other way. They had a nice medal ceremony after and then I watched the rest of the event. It was great! I saw some awesome action in the other events, especially in a nice approximately 20 sec arm bar by one of the guys from BTT.
In what I found to be humorous I had a bit of celeb status as a group of tweens wanted to get their picture with me and having never met an American they wanted to practice their English on me…that was definitley a new experience for me. I also didn’t realize just how many people I know in the fight game as I saw a large number of people I have trained with, to my happiness after talking with them they all asked when I was going to be coming into train again with them. It’s always nice to know you are thought of in a positive light.
It felt great to get on the mat and compete again. I hadn’t wrestled competitively since my senior year in college, and it was awesome to be able to have the experience the thrill of a tough match again. It help reminds me why I fell in love with the sport. Also it got my competitive juices flowing. Now that I am able to get back on the mat I am starting to prep for the Rio Open and the end of July. I was able to get a couple of good training sessions in this week in Dennis’ Class. My ankle is getting better and I am looking forward to gradually increasing my training and stepping back on the mat.