This week, the Jiu-Jitsu Times spoke with UFC fighter and former ONE Championship bantamweight title contender, Leandro “Brodinho” Issa.
Leandro is a member of Singapore’s prestigious Evolve MMA fight team, where he trains alongside big names such as former UFC Lightweight Champion Rafael dos Anjos and current ONE Championship Lightweight Champion Shinya Aoki, just to name a few. Issa holds a third-degree black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and has done BJJ instructionals for Evolve University.
You can catch “Brodinho” at UFC Fight Night 93 on September 3 when he takes on Taylor Lapilus.
Jiu-Jitsu Times: What got you into BJJ? How old were you and what made you fall in love with it?
Leandro Issa: I started BJJ when I was 14 years old in Ubatuba, Brazil. l got into it through my older brother, was doing it first. He used to come home from class and show me the techniques at home. I started not long after. Ever since my first class I never stopped training. I fell in love with it instantly.
Jiu-Jitsu Times: Why did you want to make the move to MMA?
Leandro Issa: I made the move to MMA after I won the Worlds in 2004. I made the move because I decided I needed a new challenge in my life. With their being no prize money in BJJ back then it was hard to stay motivated, so I decided to move to Rio to focus more on MMA.
Jiu-Jitsu Times: Tell us your thoughts on your upcoming opponent, Taylor Lapilus. What advantages do you think you have over him? Him over you?
Leandro Issa: I have been studying my next opponent Taylor Lapulis. He is a good fighter. He’s an experienced south paw striker who also has some submissions on his record. That being said, I think I’m more well-rounded than him with more experience. Its no secret that in MMA it is important to be well-rounded and the opportunity I have at Evolve MMA here in Singapore to train with world champions in all disciplines every day helps me immensely. Our Muay Thai world champions are the best strikers in the world, and I am very fortunate to have the chance to learn from them. On top of that, working with the other BJJ world champions we have here as well as with my Head Coach Olympic Wrestler Heath Sims is great.
Jiu-Jitsu Times: Tell about your toughest MMA match? What made it so tough?
Leandro Issa: My last fight against Iuri Alcantara was my toughest as he has more experience than me. I was ahead after the first round but he came back strong in the second. I had to dig deep to fight and survive. I didn’t quit. I learnt a lot from this fight and am a better fighter for it.
Jiu-Jitsu Times: You’ve been in the MMA game for close to ten years. What advice would you give to anyone who dreams of being a professional MMA fighter?
Leandro Issa: Yes I have been in MMA for quite a while, starting close to 10 years ago. When I started, in Brazil it was actually called Vale Tudo. The advice I would give to new guys who want have dreams of being a professional MMA fighter is learn the pure martial arts first. For example with BJJ you need to start in the gi learning the fundamentals in the basic classes. Developing a strong base to build upon is very important. Also for Muay Thai, learn pure Muay Thai first making sure your technique is one point. Later on you can then mix it together and learn the transitions.
Jiu-Jitsu Times: Whom would you like to thank for your success in MMA?
Leandro Issa: I have a lot of people to thank for my success in MMA. First of all you cannot forget your roots so I have to say thanks to the people like Erivaldo Jr from Liga Jiu-Jitsu, Rafael Correia, and Roberto Correia. Also, Roberto Gordo and Rafael Gordinho. Of course I also have to thank Chatri Sityodtong for bringing me to Evolve MMA and all my coaches at Evolve such as Heath Sims, all the Muay Thai world champions, the BJJ world champions, and black belts, and my other teammates on the Evolve Fight Team. We have a really great team culture here at Evolve and we all help and support each other. Obviously, I also need to thank my family. Without my family, there is no way I would be where I am today. I owe them a lot.