2022 was a breakout year for Mario Alvarado. The UACTP black belt won the Pans in the brown belt light feather division and was promoted to black belt in July by long time coach Tanner Rice and current coach Isaac Doederlein. His Pans gold was especially impressive as he defeated Hiryu Niwa, Zach Kaina, and Thalys Pontes to take gold, all of whom are expected to stand atop black belt podiums in 2023. Mario commented on the highlights of his best year as a competitor.
“Overall, I felt pretty good about my performances in 2022. The highlights of the year definitely included winning Pan Ams and also receiving my black belt from Isaac Doederlein and Tanner Rice. Having my childhood coach and my current coach along with my family and team present made the experience special and one which I will always remember.”
In August 2021, Mario began training under Isaac Doederlein, the current featherweight World Champion. Isaac has always been highly regarded for his dynamic, well rounded, and attacking style of jiu-jitsu. Mario has gained valuable experience training under Isaac not just because of his technical abilities, but also the way he breaks down the game.
“Training under Isaac Doederlein has been amazing. Isaac has a positive outlook on everything he does which creates a refreshing training environment at UACTP. Also, his ability to analyze techniques and understand proper body mechanics has been crucial to my development as a BJJ practitioner. He is extremely inspirational and an overall great mentor.”
In his black belt debut, Mario competed at the 2022 Houston Fall Open in the light feather division. The debut could not have gone any better as Mario won both of his fights by submission. At the end of January he’ll compete at the European Jiu Jitsu Championships in Paris, France. Alongside Mario at light feather will be 2021 World Champion Diego “Pato,” 2021 Worlds silver medalist Malachi Edmond, and Pan and European Champion Tomoyuki Hashimoto.
“My expectations for Europeans are to both enjoy my experience and to test my jiu-jitsu against some of the best athletes within the sport. I have previously competed at Europeans as a juvenile and I remember admiring the skills of the black belt competitors. I hope to enjoy every minute of the event by competing at the black belt level at Europeans because it has been a dream of mine since juveniles. I can see that all the athletes in my division are extremely strong and experienced, some of whom have made significant accomplishments within the sport. More than anything, I’m just excited to share the mat with such talented competitors and have the opportunity to demonstrate my jiu-jitsu to the best of my abilities.”
In addition to Mario’s rigorous training and competition schedule, he’s also a full time university student. Balancing both pursuits is difficult enough on its own, but to achieve an elite level in both areas is even more difficult. It’s a challenge that Mario welcomes, as he’s looking at 2023 as a year where he’ll gain more experience fighting the best black belts in his division.
“For 2023, I hope to compete as much as possible. I’m finishing my second semester of my second year as a full-time college student and since I’m taking courses specific to my chemistry major, I will have more flexibility to compete. All in all, I want to enjoy the process while learning from and competing against seasoned black belts.”
The black belt divisions at the 2023 European Jiu-Jitsu Championships start on Saturday January 28th and can be watched exclusively on FloGrappling.