By Tom Bell
London Shootfighters’ black belt and UCMMA 135lb champion, Luiz Tosta, has spoken about his plans to represent jiu jitsu throughout his professional mixed martial arts journey after defending his belt at UCMMA 42.
At 23, Tosta moved to the UK in 2003, fighting a professional MMA bout six months into his time in London. By the end of 2004 he had fought four professional bouts in the cage, amassing a 2-2 record before taking a prolonged break from mixed martial arts in order to focus on his three businesses and train solely in BJJ.
The decision turned out to be a wise one, with Tosta going on to win the Europeans twice and taking bronze at the Worlds whilst at brown belt. His business also flourished, with the Chez Maime café, Troy 22 Club and Sevilla Mia bar in London all going from strength to strength.
He was handed a black belt by his professor, a former featherweight European champion himself in Mario Reis, going on to teach BJJ successfully at one of the country’s most successful teams – London Shootfighters, training alongside the likes of the UFC’s John Hathaway and Bellator’s Michael Page.
However, Tosta decided to stop teaching jiu jitsu when he felt the time was right to return to the cage – another good decision by the Brazilian, who went 6-0 since 2011 at the weekend.
Tosta most recently took to the cage at Troxy in London, where he dispatched of opponent Veselin Ivanov with an impressive first round triangle, extended his record to 8-3, with all professional wins coming by way of submission. He proudly wore “jiu jitsu is always a good idea” emblazoned across his walk out t-shirt, after entering the arena in his gi and black belt.
Ending 2014 with a Toukon Challenge victory of Ralf Carneborn in the gi and starting 2015 with a win in MMA, Tosta spoke exclusively with Jiu Jitsu Style about his plans for the future:
“The thing is I am focussing more on my MMA career, but I will keep fighting in as many competitions as I can because to be honest, what I want to do in MMA is represent jiu jitsu.
“Every time I see a guy go from jiu jitsu to MMA and become a coach or a fighter, I see they forget a little bit. They forget and their jiu jitsu isn’t as good because they stop training in the gi and stuff so my idea is to still train and still compete in gi, nogi and MMA as well, but overall I really want to focus on MMA.
“MMA is where I am having the most fun. Just for example, I put my name in for the Europeans to compete but I didn’t go because it was two weeks before my fight. It was too small a gap between the two so I decided to give my attention to MMA as I felt it was a little bit more important.”
The thirty-four year old is well aware that he isn’t the age he was before his seven year hiatus from MMA, however he does believe mental wellbeing and physical preparation are the keys to a fruitful career in the cage which will help his success in the long-term.
“Man, I see fighters – but I can’t compare myself to Randy Couture or Anderson Silva – but I’m 34 and this guys fought over the age of 40,” says Tosta. “I feel good, I feel experienced and I’m just going to go as far as I can because I really enjoy the training, I really enjoy the atmosphere of the fights and I’m really going to go as far as I can.
“I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself. I don’t want to get disappointed or make plans that might not happen. What I really want is to focus on my training and make sure I am doing my best, I want to be eating well, I want to be sleeping well, I want to be spending my time in the gym. I don’t care about results because if I do these things well then the results will come, naturally.
“I’m more worried about how many hours sleep I have in the day, how much training time I spend in the gym and what food or diet I am putting into my body because if I get that then I know the results will be there. The best version of Luiz Tosta will make the best MMA fighter out of Luiz Tosta.”
“Capable of throwing his hat into any discussion about the UK’s best submission artists, Tosta’s success in UCMMA hasn’t gone unnoticed, with larger promotions already offering him exclusive deals, but the 135lber wants to make sure he gets the right deal before he signs on any dotted line.
“One month ago I had an invitation from BAMMA,” explains Tosta. “They proposed a contract of five fights and the first fight would be next month for the title; but I had to refuse because I wouldn’t be allowed to fight anywhere else. In the meantime, if any other bigger show from outside the UK came in for me they wouldn’t relieve me so I love BAMMA, I think it’s a really good show but I had to say no.”
Tosta did admit that he feels comfortable as the UCMMA bantamweight champion, but shows a similar ambition to competing in the gi to push himself against the best opponents on the biggest stages.
“I feel comfortable at UCMMA though, I feel like it is my house. I know the people there and I see the same faces all the time so it is very comfortable for me when I fight there, but 100% I’d like to fight bigger shows. Any jiu jitsu fighter wants to fight at the Worlds, they want to fight at Abu Dhabi so I want to fight on the bigger shows as well, but it needs to be at the right time at the right moment.
“BAMMA is a big show and I would love to fight there as well, but I cannot sign for five fights and not be able to fight on any other show. With UCMMA, I can fight there as the champion but I can fight anywhere I want. For example, at the end of 2013, I went to fight in Rome, Italy at Impera, it was a very nice show and they didn’t have a problem with that, so that’s why I had to say no to BAMMA.”