An impressive victor over Wu Haotian (KO) at RUFF 5, the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu champion proved he is here to stay on the Sino (and Asian) Mixed Martial Arts scene.
Here is a spotlight feature on RUFF’s Caporal.
Rodrigo Caporal is a creature of habit. A Brazilian Jiu Jitsu world champion and a black belt alumnus of the world-renowned Atos Academy, Caporal lives and breathes BJJ and MMA, constantly training for his shot to become RUFF’s, and China’s, first lightweight champion.
Courteous and polite, wearing a constant grin outside the cage, Caporal, 29, transforms into a focused gladiator every time he steps into the arena. And on September 8, he will once again go to battle, this time against top Chinese contender Wu HaoTian in the main event at RUFF 5.
“My biggest dream is to fight for RUFF and the 1,000,000 RMB,” explains Caporal. “But first [I will] win on September 8.”
While the story of a Brazilian fighting for a chance at Chinese MMA history may seem out of place, Caporal has been defying the odds his entire career since trading in his soccer cleats for a Gi. So it comes as no surprise that the Hong Kong-based expat is currently in the hunt for a place in the RUFF 2013 RMB 1,000,000 Super Fight.
Only starting his formal BJJ training at 18, the Caraguatatuba, Brazil native instantly found success on the mats, displaying a unique talent for the sport’s complex grappling techniques, guards, and locks. But while Caporal possessed a natural ability, it was never his intention to go professional.
“[At first] I thought [Jiu Jitsu] was only for working out and relaxing, but I kept training and earning more belts,” comments Caporal. My teacher kept [telling me] ‘man you have good Jiu Jitsu, go to competitions’ . . . I started competing [and became] a champion.”
Caporal eventually transitioned from BJJ to MMA, fighting, and winning, in various Brazilian promotions, before relocating to Hong Kong to pursue a career as Jiu Jitsu coach.
Training, on average, six times a day with his students and teammate Irshaad Sayed, Caporal’s passion for competition eventually led him to the Chinese mainland, where he caught the attention of RUFF’s scouts. And, in November 2011, he signed with RUFF, China’s first government-sanctioned MMA organization.
“RUFF is a good event, and a big event now,” offers Caporal. “I fought in Brazil . . . but it’s not really open for [Chinese] . . . RUFF is open for everyone.”*
Caporal has looked impressive in the RUFF cage, going 2-0 since his debut at RUFF 2. Earning the “Submission of the Night” in his first appearance with a swift armbar win over HasiTieer TeerJiang, Caporal took “Nike Fight of the Night” honors at RUFF 3, scoring the majority-decision win over Zhang LiPeng.
Aware that his resume as a former Abu Dhabi Pro world BJJ champion has made him a marked man inside the cage, Caporal refuses to rest on his past successes, continuing to train hard for every opponent.
“[For] this fight I prepared different because my opponent has more experience . . . he’s very good at grappling, wrestling . . . his standup is good,” adds Caporal. “My striking is much better now, I have much more confidence in my stand up . . . [Wu] has to be careful because [he] thinks I only go takedown on the floor, but my hands are very good now.”
With his immediate attention solely focused on a victory at RUFF 5 and winning the RUFF Chinese National Championship belt, Caporal is a fighter with no shortage of motivation and inspiration.
With his mother, two sisters, and older brother still in Brazil, he sees RUFF as his chance to help himself and the people he loves enjoy a better life.
“I fight for my family. I have dreams to help my mama . . . this is my motivation for fighting,” states Caporal. “Everybody believes in me to help because god gave me this opportunity. I’m [going to] grab it and won’t let go.”
*RUFF regulations state that non-Chinese athletes can compete if they possess valid work permits in mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, or Taiwan.