Rodolfo Vieira recently suffered the first loss of his professional MMA career at UFC 258 and perhaps the most surprising part was the manner of his defeat, where his cardio appeared to suffer after the first round and he was eventually submitted by Anthony Hernandez. This shocked grappling fans around the world as nobody expected the former IBJJF and ADCC World champion to get tapped out by an unranked fighter with a purple belt in BJJ.
It’s worth noting that Vieira isn’t just any world champion either, he’s truly the best of the best. Not only did he burst onto the scene in 2009 as a brown belt who submitted the legendary Braulio Estima, but he went on to win the IBJJF world championships five times over. In fact, Vieira has only been submitted twice in his BJJ career since being promoted to black belt. The first time was against Dean Lister who secured a heelhook against him back in 2011, and the second was in 2020 when Kaynan Duarte managed to take his back and choke him out.
Other than that, Vieira has looked invincible on the mats for the entire time we’ve seen him and many fans expected this to translate to success in the cage too. At the very least, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that nobody would be able to challenge him on the ground and the path to success against him would be on the feet instead. The difference-maker in his UFC 258 fight turned out to be his cardio as he looked dominant on the ground at first, but once he started to tire Hernandez was able to gain the upper hand.
Vieira now believes he’s addressed these issues ahead of his upcoming fight against Dustin Stolzfus at UFC on ESPN 26:
“It was very hard but I lost before in jiu-jitsu, so this time was not different. The defeat made me even better.”
“I was not expecting to be submitted like that, but I was so exhausted, so tired, that anybody could submit me there in that situation.”
“I was too anxious to finish the fight early… my mind just went to a place where I lost mentally in that moment… I tried to get better in all the aspects of my game, especially mentally and also my cardio.”
“I needed to learn how to like being inside the cage. That was something that I never liked. I did seven fights there and never felt comfortable inside the Octagon, so I had to practice…
“I feel I can be very good in this sport, that’s why I keep trying. Overcoming that fear of being inside the cage, it was hard to get there, but it was better after I overcame that fear to be inside the Octagon.”
The full interview with Rodolfo Vieira where he discusses the cardio issues that plagued the first loss of his professional MMA career ahead of his next UFC fight was uploaded to the official YouTube channel of MMAJunkie: