INTERVIEW: DANIEL OTERO
I had the recent pleasure of interviewing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black-belt Daniel Otero. A decorated BJJ competitor, Daniel has already made his way into the MMA circuit and is looking to showcase his abilities outside of Brazil. Special thanks goes to Stephen Kamphius for making this interview possible. -Luke
Not everyone out there may be familiar with your history and accomplishments in both BJJ & MMA. Could you tell us how you got started in BJJ? How old were you and who you studied under?
I started to practice Jiu-Jitsu at the age of 13 years in 1995 at Fabricio Jiu-Jitsu Academy. Even at a young age I loved to compete and from there I was fortunate to have good results in most championships.
I have been the Brazilian Champion 8 times in all belts (Yellow, Blue (twice),Purple,Brown(twice) and black(twice); World Black Belt Champion in 2006 and also Vice World Black Belt Champion in 2003, 2nd place as a Brown belt, 3rd place as a Purple and Blue belt.
In 2003 I had my first MMA fight at Shooto Brazil doing 2 fights at the same event. I am currently fighting in both, Jiu-jitsu and MMA and nowadays my history in MMA is 9 fights in total and 1 lost at Japan Shooto in 2007 where I was disqualified.
How old were you when you received your black-belt and from who?
I was with 19 to 20 years. I received the Black-belt from Fabrício Martins. It took 8 years of training to get the black belt and I think I was very young for that but the fact that I was always at championships helped me to develop my Jiu-Jitsu faster.
As BJJ grows in popularity in Southeast Asia, new students are curious to know what it takes to progress and for some, ultimately earn the black-belt. What was your training schedule per week? Seminars and privates a regular thing for you?
I practice every day. Work out with professor Alexandre Barcelos, Muay Thai with professor Sandro at New Generation Academy and Jiu-Jitsu and MMA with my Master Fabricio Martins, All this happens from monday to Friday and Saturday only when it´s close to compete. I have law college in the morning so the training is during afternoon and night.
About seminars: I hope seminars will become more frequent now, I'm negotiating some seminaras in U.S.A. and maybe on February I can stay some days in U.S.A to realize it.
Is there any particular position or submission that you feel is uniquely yours? Do you have a favorite?
I don't have a specific favorite position. I'm always trying to develop my Jiu-Jitsu game to be complete and to feel comfortable in all situations. The BJJ does not stop to grow, so you need to be always studying new techniques.
Any advice to those just starting their BJJ journey?
My advice is a lot of dedication. There are no secrets. As any kind of sports or martial arts the way to success is dedication, discipline and love what you do.
This past year, the Mundials was held in Los Angeles, California. How do you see this move from Brazil to the US effect BJJ as a whole? Do you see this effecting the level/quality of competition?
I think that in future could affects because here is very very difficult to have sponsors to pay the costs that are very high for us from Brazil, so maybe many good fighters don´t fight and I think we all loose with that. But also it is important to promove the world championship in other countries to be more democratic and to develop the sport arround the world.
A couple of weeks ago you won the Copa America de Jiu Jitsu Black belt super fight, can you tell us about this. Could you share with us some of your hardest experiences in competition?
I did one of the superfights of the event and I had as opponent Fernando Silva from UGF academy. I won by advantages (5x0). It was a very hard fight; I didn´t know him, so I didn´t know his game but thank God I won and could finish the year with this victory.
About my hardest experiences in competition: It was a lot. I had real battles inside ring and mat, not always with victory. There is more value winning with difficult and thank God I had many important titles also in Jiu-Jitsu than in MMA and losses that teach you alot about yuourself.
When did you make the transition to competing in MMA? How did you come to that decision?
In certain time I felt the need for new challenge. The human being is always trying to overcome himself. I was already black belt and got many important titles, so MMA, was like this to me, a way to overcome
myself and succeed also in MMA and because of this I started to dedicate myself to conquer this purpose. My first performance in MMA was in 2003 Shooto Brazil.
With 7 MMA fights, you recently had an incident in Japan. Could you elaborate on what happened?
I did a mistake shooting my opponent at his head when I was on the ground and this is not aloud at the Shooto rules so they disqualified me. It was not my intention, never. I never been disqualified in any fight for any reason. It was only my mistake because I misunderstood the rules. But I think that Japanese public understood that and saw that was not my intention. People there was very very kind with me and after this fight many of them came to talk to me and this was very good to my self including the fact that I was very sad with this mistake and this comforted me alot.
About this fight I think was doing very well. I took him on the ground and there I was develop very well swiping him and mount. Beside my mistake I did a good fight and I hope that japanese public like it.
At this point, who do you receive instruction and training for either BJJ or MMA? Could you tell us about the team you represent?
Fabricio Martins is my master and responsable for my Jiu-Jitsu and also Sandro who cares of my Muay Thai and MMA. Both are responsible for my training. The team I represent calls intself in english Team Fabricio .
How do you balance your focus between MMA and BJJ? I've heard for many it's hard to train both at the same time with equal success.
It´s not easy to practice for both. What I do is always keep training, and when the events are for example at the same time, me with my master decide witch competition are more important whereas wich one give me better returns.The Jiu-Jitsu and Muay Thai already do part of my routine and I practice every day. In case of Jiu-Jitsu are many years of traning so is more easy because when there is any competition I am ready, but MMA when happen to have a fight I priorize the training for this specific fight. So, with discipline and dedication I think it´s possible to conciliate the two styles.
What are you plans for the future? Any upcoming MMA fights?
I'm negotiating with some Brazilian events, but I would like a lot to fight abroad again and make an international career. I think Ásia could be a great place to fight. MMA is growing in Ásia and I think that there are many fighters from my weight class.
Any interest in the MMA scene here in Southeast Asia? The sport has grown quite significantly in China, Philippine and Indonesia.
Yes, I have interest in Asian MMA. I try to be informed and I know that the sport are growing fast everywhere, so I´m very interested to fight there and to participate with this growth.
I want to thank you for your time and wish you the best in the new year. Do you have anything you'd like to share to the readers out there?
Thank you very much to BJJ-Asia for the opportunity and to show a little bit of my self to the lovers of BJJ and MMA in Asia. I would like to thank first to God, than to my family that is the most important thing in my life and finally to my teachers, Fabrico Martins and all my training partners from Fabricio Team who also helps me to be what I am. Sandro, my Muai Thai coach, Alexandre Barcelos, my personal trainer and to my great friend from Philippines Stephen Kamphius.
Anyone who wants to know more or any question it will be a pleasure to answer. My e-mails are: firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com
Thank you very much.
Daniel, thank you for taking the time to speak with us and sharing a bit of who you are. Looking forward to seeing more of you on the mat and in the ring.