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BJJ wizard Augusto ‘Tanquinho’ Mendes ready for MMA debut

Erik Engelhart

An exciting jiu-jitsu expert is about to make his transition to MMA.

Augusto Mendes, better known as "Tanquinho", will start his career as a mixed martial artist on Dec. 21, when he takes on Jamie Carskaden in an amateur bout at Duel for Domination 6 at the Arizona Event Center in Meza, AZ.

"Our head coach John Crouch thought it would be better to do an amateur fight first to get rid of the anxiety of the debut, get some experience in the cage and feel the weight cut," Mendes told I’ll do what they tell me, and hope to make my professional debut next year."

"Tanquinho" meets Carskaden in the featherweight division, but plans to drop more pounds for his next bout. The grappling wizard started training MMA when he joined Ben Henderson at MMA Lab in 2012, and fell in love with the sport.

"I first started to train MMA to help my preparation for the jiu-jitsu tournaments," he said. "MMA fighters are more professional and train really hard, and I wanted to grow as a competitor. After I started training, I decided to focus on competing in MMA after the last IBJJF World Championship.

"Not only training with Ben, but the whole team MMA LAB. Everybody there is so passionate and dedicated you can’t but fall in love with the sport."

"Tanquinho" left the jiu-jitsu tournaments with the world title last June with a win over three-time world champion Rafael Mendes in the finale, and promoters had a hard time finding him an opponent for his amateur MMA debut.

"John Crouch was trying to get someone from Arizona, but nobody wanted to fight me," he said, "but looks like someone accepted the fight."

"I know nothing about him, they just told me his name," he continued. "It’s a MMA fight, I’m not fighting jiu-jitsu with him. I’ll be ready for everything he tries."

The 30-years-old black-belt believes that Henderson’s help gets him more confident going into a new career.

"I still have much to learn, and I’m working hard," he said. "The bright side is that I’m not afraid to work hard. Like my training partner Ben Henderson always says, ‘one percent better every day’.

"My goal is to become the champion anywhere I fight. I know I’m far from being a champion, but I’ll train hard every day to get one step closer. One of my goals in jiu-jitsu was always become the champion, and that’s how I became a two-time world champion in the black belt division."

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