Last week, multiple-time World and IBJJF Champion Leo Vieira made headlines throughout the BJJ community when — at 41 years old — he decided to return to competition.
While Brazilian jiu-jitsu competitors typically have longer careers than their MMA counterparts, Professor Vieira’s decision to return to active combat on the mats left many in the community asking themselves, “Why return to competition at this stage in your life?”
That is the question we here at the Jiu-Jitsu Times were interested in when we caught up with Leo Vieira via email.
Leo Vieira will be making his return when he steps on the mats at Russia’s ACB JJ on July 15.
Com muita honra me junto ao seleto time de lutadores que irão lutar pelo cinturão do @acb_jj em Moscou. After long time only coaching my competitors, finally I will jump on the mat for compete, maybe little bit old as before but more mature, motivated and hungry! Thanks everybody for support me! @shoyoroll @zebramats @mealsdotkom family, friends and students @checkmathq @dojosealbeach
Until then, you can check out his interview with the Jiu-Jitsu Times below.
Jiu-Jitsu Times: Why are you making a comeback at 41 years old?
Leo Vieira: I am always sensitive for God’s signs, and my inner voice was telling me that I need to compete regardless to learn something, and I have been learning a lot since I decided to compete. Beside this, we are never too old for learn!
JJT: What challenges do you think you will face returning to competition at your age?
LV: Discipline and priorities! Before being a competitor, I am a father with two beautiful kids and an amazing wife that supports me in all my work and projects. Then I am a professor teaching every single day at both academies in California ( Checkmat HQ and Dojo Leo Vieira in Seal Beach ). After that, I am a coach and I have the best competitors that I need keep my eyes on it.
So, competing comes at the bottom of my list. I have a lifestyle today that I choose to be family, friend, and professor and all these positions require time and give my self so much. There’s no selfishness or time for myself.
JJT: What advantages do you think you will have over your opponents?
LV: The experience that comes with training and competing since 1985 gives me knowledge, skills, and maturity. I am not the fastest and I know I am not the strongest, but I know shortcuts and strategies
JJT: Do you have any plans on doing any other tournaments? ADCC 2017, perhaps?
LV: I am invited to ADCC 2017 in regular competition under 66 kg, but I would like to do a super fight. My first ADCC was in 2000. After that I competed and placed in all ADCC tournaments. Only in 2015 I didn’t compete
JJT: Who do you think will be the biggest challenge at the upcoming AC BJJ tournament at 65kg? Why?
LV: Every competitor is so young and very technical. I used to compete against their professors! This is already a big challenge for me.
JJT: What are your thoughts on AC BJJ’s 3-round rules?
LV: I like the idea to bring something new for the sport and be let of this! I believe in this show (ACBJJ) and I am supporting with the best way that I can do! Stepping on the mat and competing!
Don’t forget to catch Leo Vieira in action this Saturday, July 15, at ACB JJ. Matches start at 11:00am EST.