Rafael Silveira Interview: “My Plan Is To Display Beautiful, Technical, And Well-Rounded Jiu-Jitsu”
The new Atos black belt was promoted after winning Pans and Worlds
The black belt division added many new contenders following the 2023 World Championships. One of those new young stars is Rafael Silveira of Atos Jiu-Jitsu. Rafael made waves in the brown belt division in 2023, winning gold in the middleweight division at the Pans and Worlds. Between those two events Rafael had nine fights and four submissions, beating high level competitors in every match.
Rafael’s recent success was certainly not overnight, as he began his training as a kid in Sao Paulo. Coming up through the kids and colored belt ranks he won titles at every major tournament.
“I have been working nonstop since my early years and accumulating experience throughout the years. In 2023 I was able to display solid jiu-jitsu and I was mainly focused on improving rather than proving.”
His journey towards improvement led Rafael to Atos HQ in San Diego, California. Professors Andre and Angelica Galvao have produced World Champions across all belt levels and built an environment that has helped their athletes thrive on and off the mat.
“I had visited Atos Headquarters a couple times when I was a juvenile and after winning my first World title as an adult, Professor Angelica Galvao invited me to be part of their scholarship program at the time. It was the most important step of my career so far. I’ve learned almost all that I know on and off the mats from them and I owe them a lot. I’m forever grateful.”
After winning four tough matches in the brown belt middleweight division at the 2023 Worlds, Rafael advanced to the final against Brasileiro Champion Gabriel Galvao. Rafael pulled guard and nearly took the back off the opening exchange, earning three advantages for the sequence. He scored another two advantages for an omoplata later in the match to win by a total of five advantages. 5X World Champion and IBJJF Hall of Fame member Andre Galvao threw Rafael's black belt on the mat just after he got his hand raised.
“Things naturally worked out in my career one step at a time. Winning another World title and getting promoted by my professor Andre Galvao on the mats meant a lot to me.”
One of the unique aspects of Rafael's game is his use of the omoplata position. Anytime he competes you can expect to see him use the position successfully at least once. Not only does he use the position to get his opponents to tap, he also uses it to sweep. He commented on the position and why it’s been such a mainstay in his game.
“I have been using omoplatas since my juvenile years. I developed many ways to attack from different scenarios. That’s what makes it difficult for my opponents to prevent it. I’ll be releasing an instructional soon and I can’t wait to share everything with you guys.”
Middleweight has historically been one of the toughest black belt divisions with athletes like Marcelo Garcia, Otavio Sousa, and Tainan Dalpra showing dominance their matches. The depth and variety in the division is something that excites Rafael, as he explained.
“The middleweight division is definitely one of the toughest and most entertaining divisions out there. Tainan and Jansen put on a show this year and it would be an honor to join them on that stacked bracket next year. I love the way the middleweight division is stacked but I have to sit with my professor and decide my future division. My plan is to display a beautiful, technical, and well-rounded jiu-jitsu. I’ll be fighting as much as possible and I can’t wait to show my improvements. I want to take this time to thank IBJJF for everything you guys do. It’s been amazing to be able to grow as an athlete under your guys’ lights. I’m ready for whatever is coming on this new chapter of my career and I can’t wait to step on the IBJJF mats again! Thank you.”