"Barata" de Freitas Ready to Battle Banuelos at Legacy FC 18
World champion BJJ black belt, Professor Rafael “Barata” de Freitas (5-0, Gracie-Barra New Mexico) will be making his Legacy debut this Saturday, March 1, at the Arena Theatre in Houston, TX, and broadcast live on AXS TV. Freitas is slated to face Chuck Liddell teammate, 12-year-veteran, and former WEC fighter Antonio Banuelos (20-9, The Pit) on the main card. We met up with the Professor after he finished working out with long-time friend, UFC fighter Diego Brandao, at the east side Albuquerque location of GBNM.
Originally from Brasilia, Brazil, he studied martial arts from age five (including Capoeira, Tae Kwon Do and Muay Thai), and participated in soccer, which is where he got his nickname “Barata” – Portuguese for “cockroach – as he was well-known for his quickness and agility.
As a teenager he, like many other Brazilians, experienced Royce Gracie fever, and began to train together with his friends, initially on their own, then later at local gyms. Freitas came to the United States in 2007 to help his friend Roberto Alencar teach at the gym he opened – Gracie Barra New Mexico , which now has three locations (he is a Chief Instructor and helps to teach at each one) and he has become a BJJ celebrity, winning medals at nearly every event: 2007 World Nogi Champion (brown), 2008 World Nogi Silver, 2009 World Nogi Bronze, 2010 World Gi and NoGi Bronze, 2010 Las Vegas Open Silver, 2010 American National Nogi Silver, 2011 Pan American Champion, 2012 World Nogi Silver, 2012 Pan American Silver, 2012 World Gi Bronze, and recently, he won the tryouts to go to Abu Dhabi this year, for Gi World Pro. He is also credited with his own submission, a shoulder lock called the Baratoplata.
From the time he moved to the States, he knew he not only wanted to compete in BJJ but also in MMA, like his compatriot Gracie; he took his first MMA fight that year, and has gone on to win all five of those MMA fights, four by submission and one by decision – over Bellator bantamweight Joshua Montoya (10-7). His last fight was a rematch against a former adversary, Eric Buck (6-7), and although it has been 18 months since his last MMA fight, Freitas has stayed active and in fight condition, not only with multiple grappling tournaments, but also with teaching and training at Gracie-Barra, regular training at Chavez Martial Arts Academy, and private training with fellow countryman, Brandao.
Freitas was recommended by one of his peers and fellow GB black belts, Professor Ulipiano Malachias of GB Westchase, to Legacy owner Mick Maynard, who was very interested and thus Freitas was given “the biggest challenge and opportunity of my career so far.” Although Banuelos has more than five times as many fights, Freitas feels confident in his abilities: “I always thought I could overcome the guys I saw fighting on the WEC. And now, this is my time; I’m ready to face the big names and show the world what I’ve got!” As he faces Banuelos, Freitas feels prepared for wherever the fight may go: “He will try to standup with me, throw the big blows, but I will surprise him there. I expect a good fight, and if he takes it to the ground, that’s my home,” no idle boast for the decorated grappler.
Freitas wants to thank all his team, including Gracie Barra New Mexico Professors Roberto Alencar, Gustavo Alencar, Don Ortega and Diego Brandao, as well as Grandmaster Melcor Chavez and Coach Manny Garcia, also his sponsor, Throat Punch. For more information on the upcoming Legacy card, visit their website www.legacyfights.net.