“I believe that one defines oneself by reinvention”
~ Henry Rollins
Since the first UFC event held in 1993, the sport of mixed martial arts has evolved in spectacular fashion to the unreal level of athletes competing in promotions around the world today.
The sport continues to evolve as do the fighters, who get more and more skilled with each passing event. It’s that very evolution that has put Jorge Gurgel on the path he’s on now, and why he believes he’ll be victorious when he faces Joe Duarte this Friday night in the main event of the Strikeforce Challengers series.
Throughout his career, Gurgel has been known for unbelievably exciting fights, but as a high level Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt, he’s often received criticism for not taking more opponents into his world and looking for submissions or even going to the ground at all.
While that mentality earned Gurgel a ton of respect, fans, and even some bonus money, it didn’t always equate to wins in the cage. For that very reason, Gurgel wants to start fighting smart instead of fighting on instinct, and he believes he has reinvented himself.
“It was almost like having an epiphany,” Gurgel explained when speaking to MMAWeekly Radio. “I fought always seeing red, and pardon my English, but turning it into a pissing contest. If somebody punched me, I want to punch them harder. If they kick me, I want to kick them harder, and pretty much fighting down to my opponent’s level. Which led me to lose a lot of fights I shouldn’t have.”
It was after a win over Billy Vaughan in March in which Gurgel submitted his opponent in less than a minute that he started to realize his mindset had to change. Following his win, Gurgel seemed almost disappointed that he only spent 44 seconds in the cage and didn’t have to take a trip to the hospital after it was over.
With time to reflect and conversations with his coaches, as well as his wife Zoila, Gurgel realized that winning quick and easy was the way it’s supposed to be done. Being able to chew a meal after the fight and not having to go to the emergency room is what most fighters strive to achieve following a night’s work.
Gurgel got that wake up call, and now wants to fight smart, but still keep his edge.
“Trust me, I’m still the same old Jorge, if somebody wants to meet me in the middle, I’ll meet them right in the middle, but if I get a chance to take an arm with me or some necks, I’m going to do the same too,” he said.
It’s this realization that led Gurgel to look at his upcoming opponent, Joe Duarte, in a different way. Looking at the way Duarte fights and his style in the cage reminds Gurgel of somebody he knows very well.
It’s somebody he actually knows inside and out.
“I see a lot of myself 10 years ago to be honest with you. I see a lot of myself in Joe Duarte,” Gurgel revealed. “A guy that comes 100 percent, 100 miles an hour, guns blazing, really heavy handed, willing to trade punches, willing to meet somebody in the middle.
“I see a lot of myself in him 10 years ago. The only thing I have on him is a lot more knowledge. I think I’m a lot faster than he is, and I’m a lot more experienced. I think that’s going to play a great factor on Friday.”
If Joe Duarte is Jorge Gurgel from a decade ago, he’s about to meet the new and improved Jorge Gurgel at Strikeforce Challengers 18 on Friday night in Las Vegas.
This Jorge Gurgel is more strategic, more intelligent, and ready to show the younger version of himself what age and experience can do for a fighter.
“I think this fight’s going to be fought a lot more with intelligence. I have to use my wits, and not that I’m not ready to go 100 percent, like I’m always ready to for three rounds, I will slug out with him cause I do need to get my endorphins going, but like I said, my footwork is superior, I’m faster. I’m a very fast lightweight and I think he’s going to have trouble keeping up with me.”