Alexandre Machado has been learning Jiu Jitsu since he was a small child. It’s a journey that has taken him all the way to a light heavyweight title shot against Aung La Nsang in Yangon at ONE: Quest for Gold this Friday night.
But it is also a tale of tragedy. Machado’s hometown of Rio de Janeiro has a reputation for crime and violence and his father was a serving police officer, who was killed in the line of duty.
“My father was a Jiu Jitsu practitioner since he was young, so ever since I was a child I trained at home with my father. I’ve been training since I was five years old,” Machado said.
“He was also a federal police agent and, tragically, he became part of the statistics of slain officers in Rio de Janeiro, during an operation he was ambushed and shot, he died in the slums of Rio.”
Losing a parent at an early age, particularly in such violent circumstances, would lead many young men down the wrong path. But Machado knew he had to step up and take responsibility for his brother and sister and together they continued on the Jiu Jitsu journey their father had started.
Becoming the Man of the Family
“I’ve taught my brother and sister, because my father had already passed away. My sister competes only in Jiu Jitsu; my brother in a professional MMA fighter.
His sister competes regularly in grappling tournaments, while his brother is also an MMA fighter and one of Machado’s main training partners.
“When I’m going to fight, he is my coach and trainer, and vice versa. My personal relationship with him is like father and son.”
Following in the Gracies Footsteps
At ONE: Quest for Gold, Machado will challenge for the vacant light heavyweight belt. It was previously the property of Roger Gracie and Machado is part of the generation of Brazilian fighters who grew up watching videos of the Gracie family competing.
“We were fans of the MMA guys and ended up becoming MMA fighters. We saw Royce Gracie winning UFC 1, 2, and 3, the first example of an athlete and a fighter, a person I look up to was Royce because that’s where I saw the efficiency of BJJ.”
Machado’s Fight with La Nsang
When it comes to training, Machado likes to play to his strengths. He’s a grappler who prefers to stay close to his comfort zone.
“Other than Jiu Jitsu, I train a lot of Judo. I’m a Judoka, as well. I don’t train Muay Thai much, I prefer to train boxing and to alternate between hand combinations and takedown entries, so we don’t train much kicking.”
The fight with La Nsang is scheduled for five rounds and the Burmese fighter has already gone the distance in ONE Championship title matches twice. His stamina is something Machado appreciates and he believes it will be important to fight at an appropriate pace.
“I think I have to keep my pace and take away his endurance. I can’t waste any strength, because he always saves his energy.”
Machado has fought as a heavyweight in the past and will probably be the bigger man here. He faced a challenge just to make the weight, but is confident he will be returning to Brazil as a champion.
“I’m absolutely certain that I will win. I’ve trained a lot for this for the last two months and I’ve dropped more or less 22 kilograms (nearly 50 pounds). I’m certain that I will be leaving with the belt.”