& Brain

He is big and one would easily get intimidated if they stood in front of him. But appearances can be deceptive. He is a fighter but a real softie at heart. Brazilian Marcos Oliveira makes a living by pounding opponents in the Octagon. But off the ring, the 31-year-old comes across as a cool and calm person who wouldn’t even hurt a fly.

By James Jose (ABU DHABI BUZZ)

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Published: Sat 22 May 2010, 7:46 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 3:52 AM

Being a Brazilian and born in Rio de Janeiro, Oliveira likes spending time on the beach, watching movies and listening to Alicia Keys.

The Pan-American Jiu-Jitsu champion is based in Abu Dhabi along with his wife, who is also a Jiu-Jitsu fighter. Oliveira, who knocked out Johan Romming in just 17 seconds in the Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) event — at the Abu Dhabi Fighting Championship last week — is part of a bigger picture when it comes to Abu Dhabi. He is part of the School Jiu-Jitsu programme started by General Shaikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.

Oliveira spoke about the School Jiu-Jitsu programme and about the city he calls his own with Khaleej Times.


How long have you been in Abu Dhabi?

I came here 11 months ago. I got invited to work here for the School Jiu-Jitsu programme by Shaikh Mohammed bin Zayed. They invited me to move over here and teach the kids and also work at the Abu Dhabi Combat Club. I love to be here in Abu Dhabi.

Tell us about the School Jiu-Jitsu programme.

It is a project started by Shaikh Mohammed bin Zayed, who is a keen Jiu-Jitsu competitor. It is under his patronage.

We have 20,000 kids learning Jiu-Jitsu from Grades 6, 7 and 8. By 2015, his project will have 500 schools teaching Jiu-Jitsu in Abu Dhabi.

What is special about this programme?

It is a unique project. There is no such project as big as this, the size of this, anywhere around the world.

What is the potential that you see here?

In the future, we are going to have the best Jiu-Jitsu fighters of the world from Abu Dhabi. We are also teaching and training them in Jiu-Jitsu to become better people. We have already started seeing the changes. Kids have more respect, confidence. That is the idea behind the project. It is not just about being a fighter but being a better person as well. We are doing great and everyone is impressed by how the kids have improved. Teaching kids is my second love.

Coming from Brazil, how come you did not take up soccer?

When I was a kid, my family had a horse in Brazil. I started horse riding but I started getting bigger and heavy. I was more interested in fight sport like wrestling and judo. As a Brazilian, I had to play football but I never seriously took up football. I wanted to be a fighter.

Your thoughts on the Abu Dhabi Fighting Championship.

It is a prestigious event with some great fighters from around the world. This event is going to put Abu Dhabi on the map. After the Ultimate Fighting Championship, people have started talking about Abu Dhabi. Abu Dhabi also hosted the Jiu-Jitsu World Cup. Abu Dhabi has an interest in the sport.

What is the striking factor about Abu Dhabi?

Abu Dhabi is very positive. When I moved to Abu Dhabi, good things started happening to me in my life. I’m happy here and proud of my work here and with myself. Now, it is time to give back what Abu Dhabi gave to me.

What I like here is the energy, the people. There is construction happening, it is a bustling city. Everyone wants to get better together. People want to improve. And it is the same for me. I want to improve myself and the person I am. I’m in a good place right now.

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