JB: Your last fight was at UFC 112, in 2010, in a much anticipated matchup of two legends, you and Matt Hughes. How important was it to you to finally fight in the UFC and what do you think of the promotion that your family took part in founding twenty years ago?
RG: Man, I do believe that the UFC only grows. It’s the best sport out there. It’s receiving now all the attention that it deserved since the beginning. It’s like there is no harder sport than this one. You have to be in an Olympian’s shape. You have to be a top athlete. You have a guy across the ring from you that’s trying to rip your head off or trying to knock you out. It’s another guy with these small gloves and in the same physical condition as you. The only way that you could compare the excitement to an Olympic sport is if you throw behind Michael Phelps a crocodile. He would have to swim faster than the crocodile. That would be the only way that you could compare those sports with ours. Our sport equals intensity. Look at the people involved. It’s amazing. And the UFC did an unbelievable job making this sport get what it deserves, what it is right now. Dana, the Fertitta brothers, they were amazing at building this. They created a new trend with this sport that is going to be endless. I will see my grandkids fighting in this.
JB: Very recently, you mentioned that your MMA fighting career is not over. What would be the ideal scenario for you to fight again? When might you like to fight and who would you like a chance to match up against?
RG: I’m already training a lot. I’m trying to set my mind for around the end of February, beginning of March. I want to be ready then to take any challenge that I can find. For sure, I’ll be looking forward to fighting a good opponent again. Actually, this time, it’s going to be the first time in my life that I’ll fight in my weight division. I intend to fight at 155.
JB: You have passed on your skills to many other great fighters, including four UFC champions: Matt Serra, Georges St-Pierre, Frankie Edgar, and Chris Weidman. What do you think of each of these remarkable individuals?
RG: I do believe that it is passion. Passion is what drives a man to build. Those guys are more passionate than anything else. I was glad that I was able to drop some confidence in them. The reality was that it wasn’t me. It was actually Jiu-jitsu. It builds that confidence to be able to walk in there and achieve whatever they want. It’s like I was just a tool to teach them and set their minds in a fighting mode that they would be able to go in there and perform. Guys like Matt Serra, Georges, Weidman, and Frankie Edgar, they’re born champions. Whatever you teach them, they are using, applying, and believing. Those are unbelievable individuals. They succeed, and if they are stars, it is because they deserve it. They, for sure, deserve it.
JB: Next month is the World Jiu-Jitsu Expo, on November 9th and 10th, at the Long Beach Convention Center, in California. You and many other greats of today and years past will be conducting seminars. There will also be a number of superfights broadcast live on pay-per-view. What are a few of the highlights of the event that fans should be looking forward to?
RG: It’s going to be an unbelievable weekend. We have the best Jiu-jitsu guys out there. We have unbelievable MMA guys who are joining us to fight. We have Jon Fitch, who’s going to be fighting Paulo Miyao, who is one of the best Jiu-jitsu players out there. We have Kron Gracie. He was going to fight Rodolfo Viera, but unfortunately Rodolfo just got hurt. So we’ll be replacing him with another star, for sure. We have Buchecha, who is the current number one Jiu-jitsu player in the world, fighting. We have Bruno Malfacine vs. Jeff Glover, Lucas Leite against Keenan Cornelius, Cyborg against Dean Lister. This is on November 10th. On November 9th, we have Efrain Escudero against Phillipe Nover. We have Samuel Braga against Joao Miyao, the other Miyao brother. These kids are around 140 pounds, 143 pounds, and they fight and win the openweight division. That’s how good they are. We have my brother, Rafael Lovato, against Matt Riddle, Romulo Barral against Leandro Lo, and Caio Terra against Nam Phan. On top of that, we’re going to have free seminars for everybody to attend. We have a seminar with Rorion, with the Mendes brothers, Braulio Estima, Tanquinho, Draculino, and Rafael Natal. Rafael Natal is going to be fighting Tim Kennedy and he will leave from the fight and go straight to the expo. We’re going to have meet and greets with Carlos Condit, Lyoto Machida, Roger Gracie, Rorion, Ryron, Rener, Ricardo Liborio, Dean Lister. Rickson is coming. Royce will be there too. We’re going to have Jiu-jitsu awards. We’re going to have a grand prix for brown belts, sixteen fighters fighting. And all of this is going to be transmitted by pay-per-view live. We’re going to have cameras the whole day transmitting everything at the expo. We’re going to have an unbelievable photo exhibition. Man, it’s a dream-come-true. And on top of that, we will have an open Jiu-jitsu tournament for men and women. So it’s going to be everything about Jiu-jitsu under one roof.
JB: You have accomplished so much in your life thus far. You are a beloved ambassador for your family, the martial arts, and the sport of MMA. What plans or goals, outside of fighting again, do you still have for the future?
RG: My brother, I do believe that when a man stops dreaming, he stops living. I can’t stop dreaming. I have so many things to do, so many projects in my head right now. That’s why I sleep four hours a night. I believe the secret of longevity is to dream and to try to realize those dreams. I want to see Jiu-jitsu growing. I want to see the World Expo continue to build. Last year we had 8,000 people walking in and out of the place. Back then it was just one day. This time it’s two days. I want to double that number. I want to make this huge. I want to get my sport under the sun, in the place that it deserves. It’s a great sport. It’s a sport that builds unbelievable fighters like the ones that we just mentioned. With that, I also want to expand my academies. I want to make kids. I want to have more kids! I want to fall in love with my wife again every day! I want to be passionate about life. Those are my main projects.