Gesias ‘JZ’ Calvancante – After the DREAM
By Justin Bolduc
PunchDrunkGamer’s Justin Bolduc sat down with two-time HERO’S 154-pound champion Gesias “JZ” Calvancante to discuss his DREAM bout with Shinya Aoki, as well as training and more.
PDG: Let’s just get the obvious question out of the way, how do you feel about your fight with Shinya Aoki, and how are you doing – I heard you have a nagging knee injury?
JZ: Yeah. I’ve had knee injuries but got surgery before. My knee wasn’t that good, but I don’t want to even talk about that because if I step in the ring I know I could win the fight. I was ready for the fight and in good condition. There is no excuse. I just had my emotions take control of everything. I didn’t fight very smart. It was a long time that I was supposed to fight Aoki, since last year – December, the New Year. Then we fought and it was a no contest.
In the first fight he was running around, standing up and I couldn’t catch him really well. I threw just a couple punches and one kick, and when he shot in I threw a couple elbows. One of the elbows hit him in the back of the head and he said he could not fight.
So for the second fight I was emotional. I said “I’m going to take this guy down and ground and pound him – overpower him and knock him out.” And a couple people said they were bored with the first fight… but that’s my thought, you know? I think for real that that is the only thing that I did wrong.
PDG: When you had his back and were pounding on him were you frustrated at all that the fight wasn’t stopped?
JZ: Yeah. That affected me for the rest of the fight. I was standing and he wasn’t active. Whether he was Japanese and I was in Japan, I cannot think that way. It was my mistake to wait so long – especially because he was not in a position of control. He was not doing anything, or very active. I should have tried something different.
PDG: Aoki has a very awkward style and his jiu-jitsu is unorthodox. Was that difficult to prepare for, and difficult once you were actually in the fight?
JZ: He has long legs and a really skinny body, and is so flexible. I have two guys, Micah Miller and Cole Miller – Cole is now fighting in the UFC, but they helped me a lot because they have similar body types and they are flexible also. They helped me a lot so I was prepared to go. The only time I had trouble was the last omoplata because his legs are longer and more flexible so he could pass over my leg. I was stuck over there, but not hurt or anything.
PDG: You had previously fought Joachim Hansen, which didn’t quite go your way. Was a fight with him in the tournament something you were hoping for to get that back?
JZ: I don’t really think about it that much. By that time it was my third or fourth fight, I don’t really remember. I was young and got the fight with ten-days notice. A lot of people thought that I won. For me I learned a lot. He won the fight in the judges’ eyes, but for me it was a victory. For sure if we fight, then we’ll fight and it would make my record look good, but I don’t think about the record and if he beats me then I’ll beat him next. Right now we are two different fighters by that time – same thing with Aoki. A lot of people come out saying “I want a rematch, I want this, I want that.” But hey, time is time. Every time it comes I let God take it into his hands and control everything. If that time comes then sure, it will be my pleasure and I will be ready, but if not then it will be my pleasure to beat someone else.
PDG: Despite that outlook how do you feel about a rematch with Aoki considering the fight was one of the most highly anticipated bouts ever inside your division?
JZ: Like I told you now, I’m not that interested to go crazy and just look for him. I don’t think that way. If I do good, and he does good, then for sure we are going to meet each other again at the end. But my focus is to keep coming. I know I have to come back and fight again. If he wins the tournament he is going to be the highest and I am going to have to fight more. But for now we are on the same level, in the same situation. I just want to do my best and keep growing in the MMA world.
PDG: I know you previously called out Takanori Gomi, and it seemed like he was ducking you. Considering a lot of people consider him the number one guy how do you feel about fighting him?
JZ: Gomi for me is one of the best guys in MMA. He’s not been very active, but what he did in PRIDE was a lot. He beat a lot of good guys in his time and nobody could stop him until Marcus Aurelio came and beat him. Nobody could really see the holes in his games, but Marcus Aurelio found it. Then they fought again and Gomi won the rematch. If people are still thinking he is number one that is OK, he deserves that. But to fight him is a dream fight. He’s one of the guys that I follow a lot and I’ve been watching him a long time. I think all the fans would like to see this. People come to me and are like “man, my dream is for you to fight against Gomi or fight against B.J. [Penn] or fight against [Sean] Sherk,” so it is a dream match-up for everybody. He creates a lot of energy, good energy, and if I could get this energy and get inside the ring then for sure I would like to do the match. I don’t just fight for myself; I fight for my family, my fans, and my friends. I like the energy that I get inside the ring, so if this match is going to bring more energy then for sure I would like to do it.
PDG: You mentioned B.J. and Sherk… when K-1 had Dynamite!! USA you fought over here in America. I know that you are with Dream now, but had you previously had any interest in coming over and fighting in the UFC or another U.S. promotion and fighting here?
JZ: In Japan they treat me very well, you know? I’m very satisfied with them, but to fight here – it’s my hometown. I wish Dream could come to the U.S. and do a good event, but that is for the future. I take it time by time, step by step. I’m with Dream now and have a couple more fights. So for later or the future I might like to think about something like that because it is good to fight in your hometown.
PDG: Yeah, plus you won’t have to fly sixteen hours to Japan.
JZ: Yeah, yeah! That is a good point also [laughs].
PDG: Something you did that is not common with top level MMA fighters is accepting a kickboxing bout against Masato. How do you reflect on that experience at this point and would you be interested in competing against another top level fighter in that sport?
JZ: For me it was a really, really good experience. I always look at everything for MMA, it is my life. Even when I am hanging outside, eating, sleeping, resting – I am training. For that fight I took a lot of experience for MMA. A lot! I trained so much, just Muay Thai. But I knew from that I would take a lot back for MMA, and I did – a lot of experience. It is two different things, K-1 and MMA. Even if you want to just stand up in MMA it is different then K-1. But it’s that confidence. I can see things that I would never have imagined before.
PDG: On the flip side with the ground game, have you had a chance to train with Marcelo Garcia since he’s been down at American Top Team?
JZ: Yeah, Marcelo Garcia and me train a lot. He has a really good submission game, but now he’s learning more for MMA so we’ve changed a lot. Sometimes he’ll show a position and we’ll adapt it for MMA so you can punch, and you can control, and you can punch again so you can finish the fight and submit the guy. He’s amazing though. He has a very good ground game with a lot of techniques – and he’s a nice person. He’s really humble. He always wants to learn.
PDG: Generally what is training like for you?
JZ: The work schedule at the gym is to work everyday. Even if you don’t have a fight coming up, everyone has a schedule. Everybody has to train in the main gym and come at the same time – all of the fighters. That is a big point with our team. It is not just guys that have to fight, but everyone. If you aren’t going to fight then you go to watch, or train, or give instruction. We do everything from boxing to Muay Thai to wrestling, jiu-jitsu and MMA training. We do everything so we are there all day.
PDG: What kind of stuff do you like to do outside of training and fighting?
JZ: I love traveling to places with a lot of nature, and places where I can swim or wakeboard. I like to go to the mountains. I like all the extreme sports. I love all of those kinds of things. I love nature also. I like to go into nature to recharge myself. Contact with nature is like contact with God, and it recharges me. I like to hang out with my friends and my fiancée, and go out to eat and go to the beach.
PDG: Obviously you like MMA, but in what capacity are you a fan of the sport?
JZ: Man, honestly when people come to me and talk about fights I’m like I am a fighter but also a fan. Now because I am so busy training I am a little bit out of what is going on because a lot of new events are popping up and a lot of new guys are showing up so I can’t follow everything, but before I was always going to all the websites and following everything. I love to see what people are doing in my sport.
PDG: Who are some of your favorite fighters to watch?
JZ: All the guys from my team, ATT, especially Jorge Santiago, Thiago “Pitbull” [Alves], Marcus Aurelio, Wilson Gouveia, and Thiago Silva – those guys are amazing. Also Denis Kang is one of my favorite fighters. I love to watch those guys. Outside [of American Top Team] Paulo Filho, Anderson Silva – it’s always fun to watch him, B.J. [Penn] – I’ve followed him for a long time, [Renato “Babalu” Sobral] – he’s a friend of mine back from Brazil, and Randy Couture. Those guys I just can’t miss fight.
PDG: To wrap things up, is there anything else you would like to say?
JZ: I want to say thanks to American Top Team, and also Sinister – those guys are selling my clothes at their website, check it out. Thanks to American Top Team, my team is my family. Thanks for the opportunity to come to your site and show a bit of myself.
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