Interview: Chute Boxe Head Coach Diego Lima talks team, journey and future prospects

A long lineage of technical violence, Chute Boxe is one of the most renowned gyms in MMA. Legends were born through the system as the likes of Wanderlai Silva, Anderson Silva and Shogun Rua dominated the MMA world. With multiple branches across Brazil and now the US, Chute Boxe still strives to produce top talent. Diego Lima, head coach of Chute Boxe in São Paulo is in pursuit of leading the next generation of Brazilian killers.

Growing up in São Paulo with the desire of being a professional fighter himself, Lima eventually took over Chute Boxe when his master Luis Azeredo moved to Curitiba. He started teaching and fell in love with the process of sharing his knowledge with others. Today he coaches the likes of top 10 UFC bantamweight Thomas Almeida, Felipe Arantes, Charles Oliveira and Lucas Martins.

I spoke to Diego about his fighters, his journey as a coach and top prospects to look out for at his gym. Check it out below.

Sports Rants: Congrats on the team’s success at the Brave 3 show in Curitiba. Lucas Martins and Felipe Efrain both picked up impressive finishes. What did you think of the show and how your fighters performed?

Diego: Thank you very much, the results were great. Brave is a great event, and I’m very happy to have Lucas and Felipe in it.

Sports Rants: Did the fights for Lucas and Felipe go the way you expected them to? How did Lucas deal with the last minute opponent change?

Diego: I really liked the fights, we did what we planned. The change of adversary made little difference to Lucas, but we managed to come up with a good strategy in a few days and bring home a victory.

Sports Rants: Will Lucas be in Abu Dhabi for Brave 4? I know he said he wanted to watch the main event title fight and challenge for the title next. Did Brave guarantee him the next title shot?

Diego: We still do not know if he’ll be in Abu Dubai, we’re talking about this. I think it’s going to happen, Brave are hoping for Lucas to be the next challenger for the belt.

Sports Rants: What’s next for Allan Nascimento? Could we see him competing for Brave too?

Diego: Allan is one of the best fighters in Chute Boxe and I’m talking to Brave about him. He really liked Brave.

Sports Rants: Any news on Almeida’s next fight? I know he wants to fight in Rio but it seems like most of the top ranked fighters are already booked. He was interested in Michael McDonald but he left the UFC. Will he accept to fight someone unranked? Do you guys have anyone else in mind for him?

Diego: He really wants to fight in Rio, he would like to face Jimmie Rivera or Bryan Caraway but we are training to face whoever the UFC chooses.

Sports Rants: After Almeida’s first pro loss he seemed a little down. Do you feel like he fully regained his confidence after his last win?

Diego: He is great, I always talk to him about everything that can happen in the fights, he knew that a defeat could happen one day but now he no longer thinks about defeat, he only thinks about winning and getting the belt.

Sports Rants: Will Felipe Sertanejo fight in Rio too? What do you feel like went wrong in his last fight because he looked good throughout. What would you like next for him?

Diego: He also wants to fight in Rio but we are waiting for the UFC. In his last fight he felt good but the altitude in Mexico is very different and that hurt him a lot to fight there. It’s very important to go beforehand for a couple of weeks.

Sports Rants: Charles Oliveira is fighting very soon at UFC 210 against Will Brooks. What do you think of the match up and what do you think of Brooks as an opponent. How would you break down the fight?

Diego: Brooks is very strong, and likes to fight using ground and pound. I think Charles can use his jiu-jitsu to get a finish. We’re training everything but I believe this fight will take place on the ground.

Sports Rants: Oliveira has had a few disappointing losses. He was dominating his last fight vs. Lamas before getting caught in a guillotine again. What do you feel went wrong and what adjustments have you guys been making to make sure they don’t happen again?

Diego: Charles has always faced the best. He’s always had good fights and because he has a very open fighting style, he ends up in spontaneous positions but we are working hard for these failures not to happen again.

Sports Rants: Do you think his move up to lightweight and no more big weight cuts will allow us to see a better version of Oliveira?

Diego: The last fight he was called on short notice and could not do a good job to lose weight but I believe that in the future it is best to keep it at 145 lbs. He’s going to do this at 155 lbs and maybe a few more but then we’re thinking of going back to 145 lbs.

Sports Rants: Which fighters should we look out for that you feel will be the next stars in your gym? Anyone you feel like we’ll be seeing in the UFC soon? And any female fighters?

Diego: Yes, we have two unbeaten prospects that I’m sure will shine a lot and are very new and excellent fighters. Gustavo Gabriel is 12-0 in the 125 lbs division and Daniel Willycat is 7-0 in the 135 lbs division. I believe these are the two most promising new talents. In terms of female fighters, we have Mayra Sheetara who has been standing out a lot and beating the best fighters here in Brazil, she is already 5-0.

Sports Rants: Please describe to me your MMA journey. How did you get involved with the sport growing up and how did you end up being a coach and having your own gym?

Diego: I started training at the age of 14 with Luis Azeredo, today I am 36 years old. I started to train to be a professional fighter and Felipe Arantes was training with me since then but my master Luis moved to Curitiba and I stayed in São Paulo and I started teaching in his place. That’s when I started to become a coach. From there I started to train Allan, Thomas and before long they became adults and started to fight professionally and I became manager and head coach.

Later on, new students started coming to us who then became fighters and ended up riding with our team and representing Chute Boxe, which is the school that I always belonged to since I started.

Today I am very happy to have my students with me since they started and are great professional fighters. I am very happy to have my gym where Felipe is my partner, and I am very happy to have many fighters in many good events. I love MMA and I love my team, my team is my family.

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