Renato Canuto: The road from BJJ to MMA

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As the ADCC 2022 no-gi submission grappling event approaches, we sat down with Renato Canuto, Venum athlete and Black Belt BJJ World Champion, to discuss his approach to the championships this year...

You're known for your unpredictable, crowd-pleasing, and energetic grappling style. Going into ADCC, what can we expect to see from you?

Renato: Same same but different!

This year I’ve been training consistently for my MMA debut, and my training schedule consists of a lot of striking, wrestling, and No-gi grappling - all of which have improved my cardio tremendously. 

So to be more specific I haven’t had to change my focus from Gi to No-gi for a whole year, which gives me a better shot at ADCC. My training is almost all ADCC-style focused! And because of that, my fighting style right now is, even more, push forward than before, and I’m ready to outrun everyone for the marathon that is ADCC!

You won the prestigious IBJJF Worlds at Lightweight last year - how has this accolade changed the way you're preparing for ADCC?

Renato: I think the overall experience of winning a world title bought me to the top of my game. 

I felt comfortable in there, and confident, so I did my thing smoothly and fiercely. There was never a doubt in my mind about how good I was, and that allowed me to perform with no fear of losing.

Now, I arrive at the biggest tournament in grappling, KNOWING I’m a big dog and that these are all achievable goals. So - why not win the hardest lightweight bracket in grappling history? I can’t wait!

Your confidence on the mats has always been high, what do your preparations currently look like while in training camp? How much do you roll and drill, focus on strength and conditioning and prepare mentally?

Renato: Mental game strength comes from good preparation, and I’ve been preparing myself well and pushing my limits every day.  On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, I have a 7 am Strength and Conditioning with my coach Renato Tagliari, then a grappling session at 9 am, and another in the evening. On Tuesdays and Thursday mornings I have a private Wrestling Session with Pete Martin, and then an afternoon and an evening grappling session.

My wife Raquel is instrumental in my preparations and helps with stretching, mobility, nutrition, and everything in between. She’s also one of my main training partners. 

At ADCC 2019, you won the "Best Fight" in the entire competition - an amazing achievement. What did you learn about yourself in that fight with Garry Tonon?

Renato: That trophy sitting in my gym screams to me that even on a shitty day, I’m still one of the baddest mother f’ers in this sport.

It was a great learning experience, I took a lot from it. It pushed my mental toughness to the limit, and I didn’t break. I fought my hardest to the very end of that match even though I didn’t feel great at all. 

So now that I have experienced the ADCC training camp and competition I feel like I’ll be able to better prepare physically and strategically for it 2022.

Stepping onto the podium at ADCC is a dream for every grappler - when you're crowned king of the 77kg division - what would be the next big goal for you?

Renato: Winning ADCC would be awesome, but my main goal this year is still getting my hand raised in my first Professional Mixed Martial Arts bout. Watch this space!

What words of advice can you give the up and comers in the sport, the new generation of competitors that look to the elite grapplers such as yourself for inspiration?

Renato: A few important lessons I’ve picked up along the way:

Actively learn from every good and bad experience. Learning from everyone you like to watch competing. 

Don’t stress about an outcome, but focus mostly on preparing, learning, and mentally pushing yourself in every training session and competition. 

Don’t rush the process to the top. Enjoy the journey. Everyone’s pathway looks different so don’t compare yourself to anybody, but keep pushing forward!

Thank you, Renato! We can’t wait to watch you at ADCC, on your MMA debut, and everything in-between!

Renato: Oss - see you on the mats!