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As fights get tougher, BJJ star Rodolfo Vieira seeks evolution before ACB return

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Rodolfo Vieira improved to 4-0 in MMA with another stoppage victory under the ACB banner.
Photo by ACB

Rodolfo Vieira improved to 4-0 as a mixed martial artist with another finish at ACB 88 in Brisbane, submitting Jacob Holyman-Tague in the opening round on June 16, but it didn’t go as smooth as his ACB debut.

Competing in MMA for the first time outside of Brazil, the five-time jiu-jitsu world champion experienced new things despite the quick finish in Australia. Before Vieira shot for a takedown early, Holyman-Tague caught him with a punch and a knee that opened a deep cut under his left eye.

”I didn’t expect that. We never expect to be hit like that, but as soon as the fight started he switched stances and got me a bit confused,” Vieira told MMA Fighting. “He has a long reach, but I was reckless for a moment standing and he caught me with a knee. I went for a takedown at the same time the knee landed and it caught me in the eye. I felt that it cut, but I was able to take him down and do my game.”

The cut required nine stitches, Vieira says, but he no idea how big it was during the fight. His left eye was almost shut due to the cut, and he wanted to finish Holyman-Tague as soon as possible before doctors stepped in between rounds.

”I wasn’t dizzy, but I felt it was open, I felt the blood,” Vieira said, “and all I could think was ‘I won’t let him go now, I’ll keep him on the ground, and I have to tap this guy before the round is over.’ I knew I was cut. I didn’t know it was that deep, but I remained calm and everything went well. I knew that if I got to a good position he wouldn’t be able to get out of there.”

Holyman-Tague was his toughest opponent to date record-wise, so Vieira is happy about his first-round victory over a 5-1 foe. However, making mistakes during the fight is too dangerous as he progresses in his career.

”I was upset because if that knee landed on my chin it would be a knockout and the fight would be over,” Vieira said. “I was disappointed. I don’t like to make these mistakes.”

Vieira, who turns 29 in September, has one bout left in his contract with ACB. He now plans on taking some time before his next bout in order to improve and become more well-rounded in MMA.

“My plan was to fight again this year, but I think I’ll prefer to take some time to train more,” Vieira said. “I took this fight on short notice because I got married, had my honeymoon, and came back to train and took this fight two weeks later because I had to fight before June for this documentary we’re filming.

”I want more time to prepare, train and evolve. This is what I’ll do now. It’s getting tougher every time I fight, I’m fighting tougher athletes, and I have to be ready.”