Multiple-Time World Champion Leo Nogueira Has “Changed His Whole Game” For Fight To Win Pro 36

Photo Source: Fight to Win Pro

Leonardo Nogueira has been around the competition scene a time or two. A champion at Worlds, Pans, Euros, Brazilian Nationals, and the Rio Open, he’s seen (and defeated) his fair share of tough opponents, including Marcus “Buchecha” Almeida, Osvaldo “Queixinho” Moizinho, and Joao Assis. But on Saturday, June 10, Nogueira is going to venture into new territory and face a new challenger when he faces Ricardo “Demente” Abreu at Fight to Win Pro 36 in Atlanta, Georgia.

The sub-only, all-eyes-on-you format that Fight to Win boasts is a big change from the point-based tournaments where Nogueira has made a name for himself. He acknowledges that the different style is a “challenge”, but he’s walking in prepared. “I changed my whole game for this match. I’m playing very open,” he says. “I’m not gonna play for points; I’m gonna be looking for the submission the whole time.”

At least for the next year or so, we’re going to be seeing more of Nogueira in promotions like F2W rather than IBJJF tournaments — last year, he failed a doping test and was stripped of his 2016 gold medal from Worlds in addition to being suspended from IBJJF competitions for two years. Nogueira claims that the IBJJF “could’ve explained a little more about the facts”, and he gave his side of the story in an interview with the Grappling Central Podcast. Once his suspension is over next year, though, he still plans on returning to the IBJJF scene and continuing where he left off.

According to Nogueira, Fight to Win Pro CEO Seth Daniels himself was “the first one to support him after his suspension.” And now that Nogueira finally has the chance, he has every intention of repaying that support by putting on a great show. “I’m not worried about been scored;  I’m gonna fight 100% for the submission… I’m looking for giving a good match to be watched,” he says.

Nogueira’s opponent, Demente, is not only a former silver medalist at Worlds and 2010 Euros champion, but also a one-time F2W veteran. It goes without saying that even someone as decorated as Nogueira isn’t going to have an easy debut beneath those famous bright lights when faced with a tough opponent who’s already competed under the F2W ruleset. But that doesn’t mean he’s not feeling good about his chances. “I’m looking forward to doing a good fight and then ask for another match! Let’s see how it goes! I will do my best,” he says.

Regardless of what happens Saturday night, Nogueira is hopeful that his first time on the big stage won’t be his last. He says that his plans for the future include getting back up there with “another big name” athlete and showing jiu-jitsu fans everywhere exactly what he can do. This champion might have gotten famous off his tournament performances, but Atlanta might end up bearing witness to the start of an illustrious sub-only career.


Make sure you watch Nogueira vs. Abreu, plus more than twenty more exciting matches when Fight to Win Pro 36 streams live on FloGrappling on Saturday, June 10 at 6 pm EST!


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