Coming into the 2022 World No-Gi Jiu-Jitsu Championships, Lucas Pinheiro had won gold at the Pan, European, and Brazilian National No-Gi events as a black belt. Winning black belt light feather gold is never an easy road, but this year’s Worlds No-Gi light feather division was filled with great athletes. 2017 and 2018 World No-Gi Champion Tomoyuki Hashimoto, 2021 World No-Gi Champion Carlos “Bebeto” Oliveira, Cleber Sousa, and Edwin “Junny” Ocasio were all aiming for gold. Lucas commented on the caliber of his opponents and how these challenges made his first place finish more fulfilling.
“Yes, the road to this gold was not an easy one. Despite not having conceded any points throughout the championship, I had to defeat some tough opponents, which made this achievement even more special to me. In the first match, I beat the two-time No-Gi World Champion Tomoyuki Hashimoto, who had already defeated me three times by 2-0. Then I overcame Junny Ocasio, an athlete who is dedicated exclusively to no-gi competitions and who also had a victory over me. I was able to beat him 7-0. In the finals, I defeated the 2021 No-Gi World Champion Bebeto Oliveira, who I have a lot of respect and admiration for. It was a light-feather multicultural podium. I beat a Japanese athlete, an American athlete, and a Brazilian athlete.”
As one of five Atos black belts who won Worlds No-Gi gold, Lucas attributes much of his success to his professor Andre Galvao and his teammates in San Diego. “I believe the team is a reflection of their leader. We are trained daily by the best no-gi competitor in the world. We still need to put a lot of the work in, but we are definitely being guided by the best. Training daily with Andy Murasaki, Jonnatas Gracie, Felipe Pena, and Osa Almarwai, you can’t get any better.” Jhenifer Aquino, Osa Almarwai, Andy Murasaki, and Jonnatas Gracie were the other Atos gold medalists at the 2022 Worlds No-Gi.
Though Lucas has been one of the top light featherweight athletes in the sport since receiving his black belt in 2015, a World title had always eluded him. He placed second at the Worlds No-Gi in 2017, losing in the final to Joao Miyao. Despite the challenges put in his way leading up to the competition, Lucas was able to win the biggest title of his career thus far. "I’m very happy to achieve this goal. A lot of things have happened to me since I received my black belt such as being in a serious car accident, changing jobs, moving cities, and having a daughter. So many things happened like in anybody's life, but I’m just happy that I managed to achieve this goal with all the challenges that life brought to me.”
As jiu-jitsu continues to grow and evolve, athletes at the top of the sport have also evolved the ways in which they train. From creating training schedules to working with nutritionists and strength and conditioning coaches, competitors are always looking for new ways to get an edge. Lucas commented on how he approaches his training. “I think as time passes, I become more professional in every area, and I think that gives me more rewards. As Professor Galvao told me once, “You need to deserve it”. So everyday I try to get better at everything that I do. I train not only harder, but smarter. I put myself in risky positions during training, and most importantly I’m always very humble to learn from everyone, even from lower belts. I had to be very humble to start training No-Gi as a black belt. Other important factors were the professionals around me who make me more professional as well like my nutritionist, psychiatrist, and personal trainer. Everything counts. I invest all I have in myself to achieve my goals.”
Although Lucas has yet to set his 2023 goals, you can expect to see him competing at the major IBJJF events. “I focused so much on this year 's achievements that I haven’t planned my 2023 goals. I’m about to do that in the next couple weeks. You can surely expect to see me at the IBJJF events where I will try to remain the #1 ranked light-feather weight. You will see me at the Gi Worlds as well.” Lucas had one final message for anyone looking to achieve success in jiu-jitsu. “If I was able to become a black belt World Champion, anyone can do it. Stop the excuses, and make it happen. It doesn’t matter where you come from, what age you are, or your financial conditions.”