F2W Pro 41 Headliner AJ Agazarm Isn’t Afraid To Take Risks — Or Losses — To Become The Best

Photo Source: Kitt Canaria for Jiu-Jitsu Times

When AJ Agazarm takes the stage at a Fight to Win Pro event, you know you’re about to be entertained. This 2014 no-gi world champ has become a regular main event competitor for the grappling promotion, and it’s easy to see why: he embodies all the passion, flair, and tenacity you’d hope to find in an event that makes jiu-jitsu feel like a rock concert.

This time around at Fight to Win Pro 41 in Columbus, Agazarm will be going up against Vitor Oliveira: a Rio de Janeiro native who now teaches at Ronin Training Center in Ohio. It’s a significant match for many reasons — not only does Agazarm have a more personal connection to the event as a graduate of Ohio State University, but he’s also looking to reclaim victory over Oliveira after being defeated by him a few years ago in the absolute finals of the American Nationals. And yeah, the fact that he’s lost his last few matches at F2W doesn’t exactly decrease his desire to come away with the submission this time.

Agazarm’s last two matches for the promotion — first against Garry Tonon and more recently against Benson Henderson — ended in unanimous decisions in his opponents’ favor. But if you think he’s disappointed in his performances, you’ve got it all wrong. “I’ve chosen to become the best rather than win every match. Becoming the best requires experimentation, risk-taking, failure, re-configuration,” says Agazarm. “It is a longer, and much more difficult journey, but it’s the path I have chosen. This means occasionally renouncing strategies that were successful enough to win me world championships in favor of trying new things that don’t always work.”

Basically, Agazarm can handle a loss or two (or even three or four, if necessary) without getting down on himself. According to him, the only thing that would cause him to be disappointed is “stasis.”

Like many top athletes, Agazarm long ago discovered that the mental challenges of competition are often as arduous as the physical ones, if not moreso. But as someone who’s reached a certain state of celebrity status in the grappling community, he’s also figured out that he has yet another layer of challenges he has to deal with: his fans. Agazarm is very active on social media, often letting his followers get a glimpse into his daily life and training through platforms like Instagram. And while it definitely helps him connect more with the people who consider him a role model, he’s also had to take the bitter with the sweet. “I’ve learned that communicating with the fans and bringing them in on my preparation, process, effort, and aftermath can be a double-edged sword,” he says. “I’m learning that the most important thing is to always remember to grab it by the handle.”

As Agazarm looks ahead to Friday’s match, he’s expecting something “new, bold, unique, [and] dynamic” from the fight. He’s excited not only to perform for the Buckeye nation he loves so much, but also to show that the work he’s put into developing his game isn’t stuck in the past, but rather in line with a phrase he strongly believes in: “always forward.”


  1. I don’t understand why AJ keeps getting all this hype and promotion… Why is anyone talking about him becoming the best? Why is he always getting booked for big matches?? When is the last time the guy won anything!?!?! Someone please explain this to me! It’s the same old thing, he gets matches based on his mouth, not his record.


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