Words by Riccardo Ammendolia
It was David vs Goliath at the ADCC that year in the absolute division. Back in 2000, in the event's third year, the absolute division was stacked with world champions and No Holds Barred fighters. If my memory serves me correctly, some of the ADCC executives asked Leo Vieira if he wanted to compete after his amazing performance in the 76 kg division. Leo asked who he would face in the first round and was told that it would be "some American wrestler". That wrestler was a 270 lb. man named Mark Kerr.
Leo faced the giant Kerr who later became one of the greatest champions in ADCC history. Although Leo was practically outweighed by 100 pounds, Kerr could not successfully take him down to score points, nor did he submit him.
Leo, who had only done two weeks of no-gi training, used his acrobatic style of defense to counter Kerr's wrestling. In the end though, the judges decided MArk did enough to warrant the victory, but Leo won the hearts of the crowd.
Today Leo looks back at this memory as a life long lesson.
"This was one of the best and most important matches for me because it was for sure when I found out how BJJ is the most effective martial art, even in no-gi. This was my first time competing in no-gi without any specific no-gi training before. I would like to see wrestlers with the same difference in weight as Mark and I against guys like Buchecha with a gi in BJJ competition!"
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