F2W 158 Athlete Samuel Nagai Has Gone From Impressive Prospect To Legitimate Threat

Photo/F2Win: Kyu Lee

Just a few months ago, Samuel Nagai was just a really good brown belt. The Brazilian-born athlete had won a world championship title as a purple belt in 2018, and after ranking up, he went on to be a two-division Fight 2 Win champion. Those who had been following his career likely figured that it wouldn’t be long until he’d be a serious threat when he was promoted to black belt in August of this year. But far fewer people anticipated just how soon they’d have to really worry about him.

At 20 years old, Nagai is still young, but he already has a decade’s worth of BJJ experience to his name. He was just ten years old and living in Japan with his family when his brother Jackson began training, eventually taking Sam along with him. “Jiu-jitsu was very good at the time for both of us,” Sam told the Jiu-Jitsu Times. “Because that time was a very difficult time, and jiu-jitsu helped us a lot. At first I didn’t like training very much — there was no path for jiu-jitsu — but after training for a while, I started to like it and dedicate myself much more!”

The dedication has paid off, and Nagai has started his black belt career with an already-impressive record. After a solid performance at Subversiv 3, he pulled off a significant upset when he defeated Gianni Grippo at F2W 153. He then moved on to Pans, where he secured yet another upset victory, this time against Isaac Doederlein, before moving on to the quarter-finals. His last match saw him take home a big win against Marcio Andre at F2W 156, and he’ll be hoping to find repeat success against Mauricio Gomez tonight at F2W 158.

Still, despite the name he’s carved out for himself so far in his black belt career, Nagai has stayed humble, acknowledging that he still has a lot that he wants to achieve as a black belt. “I’ve been able to fight with the best, but I know I have a lot of challenges ahead of me and I’m really looking forward to seeing how I’m going to do in 2021,” he says. “I always keep in mind that I have a lot to learn and evolve. And yes, sometimes I feel like underdog, but I don’t even care about it anymore. I just go out there and do my best!”

With so many of his accomplishments taking place on the Fight 2 Win stage, Nagai doesn’t undervalue how much his experience with the promotion has helped him get to where he is today. “I think Fight 2 Win has helped me a lot in my finishing game as well as my social media. I really like to fight and I am grateful for the opportunities that Seth gives me, and I’m ready for anyone!”

Indeed, Nagai has learned to roll with the punches as COVID and opponent changes have thrown a few curveballs for him in the lead-up to F2W 158. His initial opponent for the event, Gabriel Sousa, was injured and unable to compete, but Nagai wasn’t fazed and approached his match against Gomez with the same enthusiasm.

Photo: samuelnagai

Nagai, after all, is used to such challenges, especially after a tough injury he suffered in 2018. “I was in pain before, but I never took it seriously until the day came when I couldn’t even stand up. But God put wonderful people in my life who helped me to improve and take care of my body, and one year later I came back to the competitions again. Today, I am active in all the competitions!”

Adding another win to his black belt record tonight would certainly be the optimal outcome for Nagai, who says he wants to one day become a world champion at his new rank. He also aspires to have affiliations “all around the world,” leaving a legacy behind that expands beyond his own personal achievements on the mats. But no matter how big his name gets in the coming years, he hasn’t forgotten what truly matters. “I want to have a family with my girlfriend and provide a better life for my mother and my brothers,” he says. What a sweet conclusion it would be indeed if the journey that began with the support of his family led to a way for him to give back to the people he loves most.

Fight 2 Win 158 takes place tonight and can be streamed live on FloGrappling.


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