Heavyweight prospect and newly crowned CFX Heavyweight Champion Juliano Coutinho is on the rise. Born in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, Coutinho moved to Vila Vehla, Espirito Santo as a child, but at 34-years old, currently resides in Cape Cod, M.A. Known for being humble and a nice guy outside of the cage, Coutinho is a 6-foot-2, 265-pound wrecking machine inside the cage.
Can you tell us about your childhood, and experience growing up in Brazil?
“Growing up in Brazil was tough. I was bullied, and then I decided to make a change and starting doing jiu-jitsu around 17-18. I started with Daniel Gracie, and a group of guys down there and even while I’m staying here now in the U.S. we still keep in contact. Jiu-jitsu gave me a lot of confidence, especially walking in the streets, because in Brazil it was really tough growing up. The reality down there is you have to be prepared for a fight everywhere you go. People fight for the smallest things. When someone tries to rob you on the street you have to be able to protect yourself. Training with Daniel and learning jiu-jitsu gave me that confidence knowing that I could defend myself if I needed too. I fell in love with the art, and I started competing. My first tournament I think I had only about two months of training. It was fun. We used to get a group of guys and travel all around Brazil and attend tournaments.”
What is the motivation that drives you to fight and train?
“The motivation I’ve always had whenever I try to compete or pursue something, it’s family and team, which in my mind are two of the same things. That’s the only thing that I fight for. I want to make my team proud, that’s my motivation.”
Can you tell us about your camp, coaches, and training partners?
“My first coach was obviously Daniel Gracie, I always have him around, I always make my trips to New York to see him. As far as striking I have a group of guys from Sityodtong Boston and CCFA in Plymouth, I have Mike Gresh, along with Pat Schultz, Johnny Johnston, and Mark DellaGrotte. I have great training partners like Chip Moraza-Pollard, who is currently ranked number six in New England at 170 pounds, Pierry Pierre, who just recently fought for Bellator… I can go on and on. We have a bunch of great guys and a solid team.”
What is your most satisfying accomplishment?
“To be honest, when I started jiu-jitsu I never thought I was going to do MMA. One of my most satisfying had to be back in 2008 in New York, I became a no-gi Pan American Jiu-Jitsu champion. As far as MMA, I would have to say winning the heavyweight title recently, fighting an experienced guy in Randy Smith. I was able to go out there and get the finish in the first round. I felt really good out there.”
In the future, do you see yourself fighting for a big show?
“I think that’s everybody’s dream, but I don’t put a lot of pressure on myself, I just go with the flow. I think that’s what jiu-jitsu taught me is to never push something that isn’t guaranteed. I’ve had some opportunities. I was asked to help [Gabriel] Gonzaga get ready for one of his UFC fights. Last year I had a chance to fight for Bellator on 20 hours notice. The promoter asked me if I wanted to, I took the fight, but it ended up not happening. I think a few more wins and eventually I’ll be going to the big show. One thing I see is that most of the heavyweights lack jiu-jitsu, which is my strong point. If it doesn’t happen, it wasn’t meant to be, but I’m doing everything in my power to possibly reach that next level. I see myself on the level of those top guys, I just need the opportunity. As you see in the heavyweight division, one punch is all it takes to end the fight.”
“Like I said, since the beginning, my motivation always has been family and team. I never fought thinking about the money I was going to make, especially locally you never think about publicity or being on television. But fighting for a big show is still obviously a goal. For me I just want to keep the legacy going, of what Daniel has taught me, what I’ve been learning with all new coaches and training partners.”