By TXMMA Staff // Tony Trammell
Soul Fighters’ Leonardo Delgado looking to make a name for himself
DALLAS, TX – Leonardo “Monstrao” Delgado is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Black Belt in the Soul Fighters organization. He is an avid competitor looking to make a name for himself here in the United States after winning multiple tournaments in Brazil. He gave up his life in Brazil to pursue his passion in life and moved to the windy city of Chicago. As of now he’s ranked #42 in all of Masters 1 black belt in the IBJJF rankings but he’s always looking to do more. Delgado recently competed in the Dallas IBJJF Open and Master Worlds in Las Vegas. TXMMA spoke to him ahead of those competitions to learn more about his mindset:
Where are you originally from?
I’m from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Born and raised in Tijuca neighborhood.
Now you live in Chicago, how do you like living there?
I’m loving it. Chicago is a big, beautiful city with an excellent public transportation system, which makes easy living here.
How is the Jiu Jitsu in Chicago?
Jiu-Jitsu here is well spread and developed, you have big schools like Carlson Gracie (commanded by Carlson Gracie Jr.), Brasa (commanded by Rodrigo Comprido), the Redzovic team is also big here. And you have a lot of other upcoming schools growing fast, as Andre Maneco BJJ (Soul Fighters affiliated) and many others.
How did you get the nickname “Monstrao”?
Well, in portuguese, Monstrao means “big monster” and in Brazil you can be called monstrao in two situations: by being big and strong or by being ugly. Unfortunately, my nickname came from the second option. But the good thing is, besides the guy who gave the nickname, everybody calls me monstrao by the first option. Lol
When did you start training jiu jitsu? Who did you start with?
I started to train in 1996 when I was 14 years old, with Carlos Henrique from Carlos Henrique team. But I only trained there for less than 6 months and changed to Best Way Team, whose head coach was Andre ‘Dedeco’ Almeida. Years later, Andre moved to the U.S. and some of his students along with other friends founded the Soul Fighters BJJ Association, which is my team now. I’m a blackbelt under Leandro ‘Escobar’ Tatu and Rafael ‘Formiga” Barbosa.
When did you start competing in Jiu Jitsu?
I started in martial arts doing Judo at the age of 8, and competed since then. I began competing at white belt as soon as I did my transition to Jiu-Jitsu, I always loved to compete.
What motivates you to compete?
The dream of being a World Champion. Also my family, my friends, my team. To know that there are a lot of people cheering for my success here in the U.S.
How hard was the transition from your career to jiu jitsu?
Actually, it wasn’t hard, because that’s what I always wanted to do, that’s what I love, you know. Life circumstances made me keep going in and out jiu-jitsu for a long time… Then I was coming from an excellent year in training and competition when the opportunity came, so it was easy to make the decision. It was very hard to leave family, friends and things like that behind.
What kind of work did you do before you started training, teaching and competing full time?
I did a bunch of things before I decide to live ‘The Jiu-JItsu life’, including 2 colleges and a lot of different jobs, but right before I move to the U.S. I had two franchise businesses with my best friend.
When did you receive your black belt?
I received my black belt in December of 2011. After a long period without training because of my work schedule, I finally had time to come back and didn’t think twice, in April of that year I started to train again. That was the year that I won the IBJJF South American Championship and my first Brazilian Nationals NoGi.
How many times a week do you train?
I train at least 5 days a week, twice a day. Besides that, I also do strength and conditioning sessions at least 3 times a week. When I’m not competing, I also have one training session on Saturdays.
How often do you drill your technique as opposed to just rolling?
I come from a school where you don’t drill a lot, but I’m trying to put that in my weekly sessions as soon as I realized how important it is.
Do you do any other sports or martial arts besides Jiu Jitsu?
Besides Jiu-Jitsu and S&C I don’t do anything. I’d like to learn how to surf, but now I don’t have time or beach for it.
What is your favorite technique?
My favorite technique is half-guard. I feel comfortable either playing or passing half-guard. I’ve been doing it for a long time now, so that’s where I like to stay when I’m training or competing.
What is your most memorable competition?
All the ones that I won (lol). But if I had to choose one as most memorable I would choose the 2014 SJJIF Pan American Championship. SJJIF is a branch of NABJJF (North American BJJ Federation) recently arrived in Brazil. That was my first double gold championship as a black belt and I beat 3 heavier guys to win.
What is your goal for 2016?
In 2016 I have 3 tournaments that I consider main goals: IBJJF Pan Am, Abu Dhabi World Pro and IBJJF World Masters. Besides competition, my main goal is to establish myself here in the U.S. as a competitor and professor.
How would you described how martial arts has impacted your life?
I can say that martial arts impacted my life not only physically, but psychologically as well. Judo and Jiu-jitsu helped me gain strength, serenity, confidence, patience… a lot of tools for a better way of living.
You just finished your training camp for Worlds how do you feel?
The camp was amazing!!! I had the opportunity to train with Formiga again, it was awesome. He is a monster: 2x World Champion, Abu Dhabi WP Champion, multiple time IBJJF Opens double gold. He’s doing a great job in Connecticut, building a big team with a lot of tough guys. Also, we had a lot of black belts attending to the camp. It couldn’t be better.
Have you competed at Master Worlds before? If so how did you do?
This will be my first World Masters. I’m very excited, because I know I can do really well. I’ve been training hard for this moment and I feel prepared for what comes the next weekend.