No-Gi Pan champion Pedro Rocha talks evolution of grappling: “It’s a reality today!”

Pedro Rocha against Mica Galvão. Photo: Personal Archive

These days, Pedro Rocha is a jiujitsu black-belt with skills that set him apart. A sports fanatic from a very early age, he has always split his time between his training in wrestling, a sport in which he is a five-time Brazilian champion, and jiujitsu, where currently he is one of the powerhouses in the competitive heavyweight elite.

Being now more acclimated to the black belt, to which he ascended in 2019, Pedro has begun winning notorious medals. He has a gold one from the Brazilian No-Gi Nationals, the No-Gi Pan, as well as being a medalist in the No-Gi Worlds — all of them held by the IBJJF.

“These last 3 years and 6 months were a time of lots of learning. I only fought in one tournament in Brazil as a black-belt, which was the No-Gi Nationals. But what I learned was that you have to do a lot more than train a bunch or eat healthy. Working the mind and keeping yourself always competing was what made me evolve the most,” Pedro points out.

His recent triumphs amongst grappling’s elite, especially under the IBJJF banner, are fruits of long-term work done when he was still living in Brazil. Pedro has always practiced wrestling, which made him acquire a different experience from that of other opponents.

“I’ve always liked training without the gi and in Brazil; like all gyms we used to train only two weeks before a big no-gi competition and, afterwards, on Friday afternoons. Wrestling helped me a lot, not just in my takedown game, but rather in training at an Olympic level. That made a difference and helped shape the athlete I am today,” reflects Pedro, who has been a key piece in the training of some MMA athletes, including the former UFC champion José Aldo.

Pedro also took this opportunity to analyze the current state of grappling, especially in the U.S., where he presently lives and runs his own school.

“Grappling is no longer the future; it’s the present. Today we see kids here in the U.S. who train only with no gi and are already doing heel hooks. The evolution is very sizeable with each passing year. Those who seize this moment will end up riding the biggest opportunities. I like to fight in grappling, I’ve been doing that since I was very young, and seeing this sport grow makes me excited. I want to fight more, do more superfights. This is the moment!” he says. Pedro has plans to compete in the 2024 ADCC, and until then intends to fight in several tournaments to show up as his best version.

TOP 4 mistakes you must avoid at your gym today

Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt talks about the sport’s evolution and highlights Gordon Ryan