Carlos Henrique GP Interview: “I Know I’m Not The Favorite, But I’m Going To Surprise Them”
Carlos Henrique of Dream Art is one of the most promising young black belts currently on the scene. As a brown belt, Carlos won many important tournaments, including the Worlds, Brazilian Nationals, and American Nationals. His 2022 Worlds brown belt campaign was particularly impressive, as Carlos won five fights, all via submission. His results at the colored belt ranks led to his black belt promotion from Isaque Bahiense in November 2022. On Friday March 3rd, Carlos will look to add a Men’s Lightweight Grand Prix title to his resume.
To kick off his black belt career, Carlos competed at the 2022 Waco Open, where he won two matches to earn his first black belt gold medal. He followed up that performance with a second place finish at the Worlds No-Gi, showing his versatility as an athlete. The Worlds No-Gi final was against 2019 Champion Dante Leon, a seasoned competitor who had submitted all three of his opponents leading into the final. It was a very close, technical, back and forth match that Dante would win by two points. Despite the solid result, Carlos believes his performance wasn’t as good as it could have been.
"I think that at the Worlds No-Gi I ended up limiting myself a lot. I was a little apprehensive. I think if I tried to take Dante down from the beginning I would have succeeded. I hope to fight him again soon.”
Though Carlos came up short of the gold medal, he showed poise, confidence, and a high technical level in Anaheim. Now he’ll enter the Men’s Lightweight GP on Friday March 3rd as he continues his quest to climb the lightweight ranks.
“First I’m very excited to fight in this Grand Prix with big names. I have a lot of respect for everyone. But I never saw competition as my biggest challenge. I had a difficult childhood and the beginning of my jiu-jitsu career was very difficult.”
The lightweight division has no shortage of world-class athletes, and the GP competitors are a reflection of that. Johnatha Alves and Andy Murasaki are the most accomplished competitors in the GP, with five major black belt titles between them. Johnatha’s titles have all come at the Pans while Andy won gold at the Worlds No-Gi and the Europeans, the two most recent major black belt championships. The only opponent Carlos has faced in the GP is Team Lloyd Irvin’s Elijah Dorsey. The two lightweights met in the 2022 Worlds final at brown belt. Carlos was able to get the submission as the clock wound down, snapping Elijah down, jumping to his back, and finishing with a choke. Despite the level of his opponents, Carlos remains focused on what he’ll be bringing to the GP.
“I don’t think much about my opponents. I’m not going to change anything about my game. They’ve been at black belt longer than me and I know I’m not the favorite, but I’m going to surprise them a lot. They’re great competitors but I trust what I’ve been doing.”
Carlos’ plans for 2023 include competing at the Pans, Worlds, and Worlds No-Gi. “My goal at black belt is to be the best. I still haven’t really shown my jiu-jitsu yet. This year is going to be the year to put my name at the top.”
The IBJJF FloGrappling GP takes place Friday March 3rd in Austin, Texas. Be sure to go to flograppling.com so you don’t miss a single minute of the action.
Click HERE to watch the event live.