Marvel Comics fans are in for a treat on December 15, when the UFC puts on its TUF 16 Finale show in Las Vegas. Hugo “Wolverine” Viana, one of TUF Brazil’s most exciting contestants – and a pretty good Doppleganger for the X-Men super hero – will be gunning for his second straight UFC win in a row when he squares off against Reuben Duran. But the similiarities between Viana and Wolverine don’t just begin and end with his stylish beard. Viana also embodies the healing spirit of Wolverine, and is a physiotherapist in Salvador, Brazil when he’s not training and competing in MMA. He specializes in therapies like shiatsu and chiropractic care, and has worked hard to develop both careers simultaneously. Jits Magazine caught up with the undefeated prospect as he prepared for his next test in the cage.
David Abbou: In the cage you always seem to be looking for the knockout. But when you’re not fighting you’re much more content in helping people to improve their health and well-being. How do you reconcile these two polar opposite mentalities?
Hugo Viana: Ever since I was young, I have always beleived that my hands are the ones that hit, but also the ones that heal. I am a chiropractor and physiotherapist and I love massage and how it can benefit patients. I like to take care of my friends and my patients because this is also my profession. On my free time, I also like to cook for my friends and family. My life revolves around the martial, healing and culinary arts.
David Abbou: When did you first start training Brazilian Jiu-jitsu (BJJ)? Do you find it more challenging to master than Muay Thai or other martial arts?
Hugo Viana: I started training at age 14 in Salvador. Jiu-jitsu helped me discover an unknown love for martial arts. It is one of the beautiful paths to reaching the real essence of martial arts. My last jiu-jitsu graduation was in 2010 when I was promoted to purple belt by the hands of the brothers Almeida, Marcio and Fernando, and I intend to constantly continue growing my BJJ game.
David Abbou: Can you describe what it is like to train BJJ with your professor at Champion Gym?
Hugo Viana: We always include the practice of Jiu-Jitsu applied to MMA, aiming to achieve effectiveness and compliance. We have many great BJJ athletes that add knowledge to Champion.
David Abbou: Do you train with a gi or mainly no gi?
Hugo Viana: I train both, but mostly no gi. Currently I’ve been seeking the development of the MMA reality.
David Abbou: How much has it helped improve your game working with Junior dos Santos and the other athletes at the gym?
Hugo Viana: It is such a pleasure to train with the champion Cigano. I watch him to learn more about the power of the knock-out and how to be a humble champion.
David Abbou: Can you describe your experience living in the house on The Ultimate Fighter show? How much of a sacrifice from your personal life was this experience, and was it worth it?
Hugo Viana: It was a great experience where I learned how to value our warrior class, with great fighters beside me who went through many challenges to get up to that stage and have such a great opportunity in front of them, but also one of great physical and emotional tension. Then, I reached a baseline in my life as a fighter, and I intend to continue the trajectory of the Samurai.
David Abbou: What was it like to train with Vitor Belfort and his coaching staff. In what ways did this benefit your overall game as you got ready for your UFC debut?
Hugo Viana: Being around great coaches and historic fighters like Vitor was an honor and a great learning experience. I was able to evolve emotionally as well as physically in my fighting.
David Abbou: You were victorious against Macapa in your first UFC fight. How different was fighting in the UFC from fighting in local promotions?
Hugo Viana: The positive energy you get from the people is much higher than in smaller events. The thrill is great, but the strength to win has to be even greater in order to overcome the crowd. The UFC really knows how to put on a show.
David Abbou: Describe your diet after starting your training camp for a fight. How does your diet help you reach peak conditioning in time for the fight and help you cut weight?
Hugo Viana: I look for healthy foods that nourish me and are easier to metabolize. I try to eat as much vegetables and fibre as possible, and limit foods derived from animals. This makes it easier for the fighter to adapt.
David Abbou: Which skills do you think Reuben Duran will try to use against you and how do you plan to counter them effectively? Where do you see your biggest advantage in this fight?
Hugo Viana: My opponent is aggressive and likes a frank fight. I have been working a great boxing game. I believe in my hands and my art.
David Abbou: When you are not training and competing in the martial arts, what is the most exciting or adventurous activity you enjoy doing when you have spare time?
Hugo Viana: I really like being with my family and cooking for friends. I also enjoy to attend to my patients and dedicating myself to the art of healing.