Paulo Merlin says he wants to surprise a lot of people at the Absolute GP

Paulo Merlin will be in action at the IBJJF Absolute GP. Photo: Reproduction/Instagram

Paulo Merlin was called up this week for the biggest challenge of his Jiu-Jitsu career. Paulo received an invitation from the IBJJF to replace Kaynan Duarte at the Absolute Grand Prix, to be held on September 1, and he jumped at the chance. 

Paulo trains at Gracie Barra Upland, in California, and is the most recent black belt confirmed for the Grand Prix. He has been a member of the Jiu-Jitsu elite since December last year and has already achieved significant results in the Federation’s main tournaments. This year, Merlin took bronze in the absolute at the World Championships and in the super-heavyweight at the Pan-American Championships.

Paulo Merlin has been training Jiu-Jitsu for 13 years and is originally from Sertãozinho, in the interior of São Paulo. He is seen as Gracie Barra’s bet to fight for medals in the sport’s biggest championships.

In an interview with VF Comunica, Paulo Merlin commented on his reaction to being invited by the IBJJF to take part in the Absolute GP and said that he is ready to “surprise a lot of people”.

VF COMUNICA: What was your reaction when you received the news to take part in the GP?

PAULO MERLIN: It really was a big surprise for me, but also a professional achievement. The IBJJF sent me a message on Instagram on Tuesday and I accepted the invitation to take part in the GP. I’ve been preparing for years to face the best in the world and this is going to come true.

What weapons do you have to offer your opponents?

Well, I’ve been training to feel comfortable in any position, whether it’s exchanging takedowns, passing or guarding. I know I’m the youngest black belt in this GP, but I’m ready to fight until the end and surprise a lot of people.

Paulo Merlin defeated Lucas Hulk at the 2023 World Cup. Photo: Reproduction/Instagram

Which confirmed GP opponent do you think will be the toughest?

All the athletes are very tough and I believe that each one will bring a different difficulty, but I’ve trained hard and I’m ready to give my best against any of my opponents.

What would winning this tournament mean for your career?

I believe that having the opportunity to take part in this championship means the start of my career as a professional athlete. And winning this event could open big doors for me.

How did your Jiu-Jitsu story begin?

I started training Jiu-Jitsu through the influence of some friends from school. They started first and invited me to come and train. I was eight years old when I first stepped on the mat and, at that moment, I realized that this was what I wanted to do in my life. Since then, I’ve never stopped. Just two months into training, I took part in my first championship, I was nervous, but I came away with my gold medal. I’ve also had many victories in the colored belts and won important tournaments such as the World Championships, the Brazilian Championships, the European Championships and the Pan Championships.

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Written by Gabriel Almada

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