Bulgarian Lubomir Guedjev , nicknameed ‘Lubo’ by his friends and colleagues, is the head referee of the ADCC World Submission Wrestling Championships. Lubo had the opportunity of referring several classic matches in the most famous submission tourney on the planet, and recently entered in the Mixed Martial Arts World by fighting four times. Lubo did not win all of his matches, but he shared with us his experiences in both events, the ADCC and the MMA World.DENIS MARTINS: Hello, Guedjev. Can you give us a profile of yourself? Lubo: My name is Lubomir Guedjev. I am currently 178 cm, 75 kg. I was born on January 11, 1978.DENIS MARTINS: How did you get interested in martial arts? Lubo: I was interested in martial arts when I was young, but I never had the proper chance to train seriously. Apart from some boxing training in the military, I never did anything else in Bulgaria. My first good chance to starting to train was when I went to Abu Dhabi. In Bulgaria, I had to study and never had any free time. Then, I went to the military and trained a little, but in Abu Dhabi I had much more free time and I invested it in training. The minor problem was that I was already 20 years old, and I had to start from zero. Bulgaria has very good wrestling and boxing schools, but I could not use them because of studying.DENIS MARTINS: What is the martial arts scene like in Bulgaria? Lubo: Like other countries and sports related to martial arts, it is growing. There are already fight tournaments, and in a few years we will show some skilled fighters on the world stage, I believe.DENIS MARTINS: What are the main awards you have won in martial arts? Lubo: I have a few awards from grappling tournaments (3rd, 2nd, and two first place finishes in different competitions without the kimono). My MMA record is 2-2. I lost my first two fights, and won my last two fights (in the America and in Bulgaria).DENIS MARTINS: I heard you fought only once in Bulgaria, not twice. What can you tell us? Lubo: The first tournament I competed in was organized by very unprofessional people. The rules were incorrect. One rule included not being allowed to choke the opponent from their back if he protected his chin. That is ridiculous. The ring was 4×4 meters in a night club where everyone smoked. There were no round limits. I was promised to fight a guy in my weight class, but he was 8 kg heavier. Anyways, it was a good fight, and we fought for more than 10 minutes. I had my opponent’s back twice, but couldn’t choke him because the referee stopped me. I tapped in the 12th minute because I was very tired again. My opponent was a European Sambo champion, so we had a similar game (except he was heavier). I also made some conclusions from that fight. My second fight recently happened and I won by tap-out in 80 seconds. I did not grapple at all. I used punches and knees to the head.DENIS MARTINS: How did you get involved in ADCC? Lubo: I became an ADCC member thanks to H.H. Sheikh Tahnoon. I had already started training in ADCC and I was picking up skills quickly in Jiu-Jitsu. The Sheikh noticed it and I think he liked me because of it. Later, I had no job and I asked him if he could help me. He gave me a job at the club and this is how it all started.DENIS MARTINS: What was the best and worst fights you have had in ADCC competitions? Lubo: It is hard to say what is the worst fight, but for sure it involved some heavier fighters. Some heavyweights just do not want to do anything. They stay on their feet and push each other. This is not the idea of the tournament. One of the best fights I have seen was Ricardo Arona vs. Jean Jacques-Machado. It was an example of high-level technique used in a big weight different. It was a great fight.DENIS MARTINS: Are you still with ADCC? Lubo: I am not living in Abu Dhabi any more, but I am still a referee and will travel for competitions. I had to come back to Bulgaria for family reasons, but I am extremely thankful to Sheikh Tahnoon, Guy Neivens, and everybody from there for giving me all the chances to become what I am now.DENIS MARTINS: What is your normal daily routine? Do you live off of money from fights? Lubo: Currently, I am working in Bulgaria to make money for my family. I cannot live from the fight money, yet.DENIS MARTINS: When did you get involved in MMA? Lubo: I was involved in MMA since training in ADCC. I had no choice because this was the topic of conversations, and later it had to do with my work as a referee & manager of ADCC.DENIS MARTINS: If you take a look at yourself, we see you delayed a little bit to start in MMA. Why? Lubo: I delayed my MMA fights because I had periods of times in which I was focusing on wrestling, then BJJ, then striking. I started training late, so I had to feel confident everywhere before I fought.DENIS MARTINS: Did you prepare for MMA fights in Abu Dhabi or Bulgaria? Lubo: My preparation was mainly in Abu Dhabi. I only went to Finland for two weeks in a camp before my first fight. For the rest of the fights, I prepared in Bulgaria.DENIS MARTINS: What are the main differences in training? Lubo: In Abu Dhabi, we had the best facilities to train. The conditions were perfect. I also had two of my best friends helping me, George Delchev and Peter Ivanov. Both of them are ADCC referees, too. George is my teacher in Bulgaria and the best person to prepare me for a fight. In ADCC, I have the chance to train with more people and that is the main difference. Where I am at now, I cannot practice my BJJ a lot because nobody knows it well, but the wrestling and kickboxing training is tough here. When I mixed the sparring training from Bulgaria with George’s teachings and psychological methods, I get the best of both worlds. I think it has shown already.DENIS MARTINS: Your first fight took place in Europeat SHOOTO Sweden-‘Second Impact’. What can you tell us about your first experience there? Lubo: My first fight was a good experience for me. I was ready and in good shape. In the first round, I felt confident and it was obvious that I felt that way. What I did not have was experience and strategy. That was why I wrestled more in the second round, which made me too tired. I was unable to continue fighting properly. I was just waiting for the end of the round. I came to an important conclusion, which is that strategy and experience should come together with physical and technical preparation.DENIS MARTINS: Your opponent (Nick Osei) was a novice, too. What do you think made the difference for him winning that fight? Lubo: My opponent felt I was tired and used it against me. In the first round, he was more careful and avoided contact. Later, he used my mistakes against me and turned the match around. I do not have any bad feelings towards him, as he did well. I would like to face him again, however.DENIS MARTINS: What changed from your first fight to your last one against Anastasios Vogiatzis at AFC 15? Lubo: I changed my game and had a strategy. In my American fight, I knew the guy was a kickboxer. All I needed to do was use Jiu Jitsu, so I did not want to be risky by using striking or wrestling.DENIS MARTINS: Vogiatzis was a novice fighter with zero MMA fighters on his resume. Do you think you had the experience advantage over him? Lubo: Because I had two losses before my AFC 15 fight, I had a great advantage in experience. I am sure he will train grappling before his next fight. However, I am happy because I was able to finish the fight quickly and without damaging him heavily, which I think I could have with my grappling. I felt that he did not know grappling in the beginning clinch, so I went for the submission right away. I felt more confident in my grappling abilities.DENIS MARTINS: What are the differences between SHOOTO Holland and AFC? Lubo: They are quite similar in format. Both organizations are great, and both the atmosphere & rules are similar. As a head referee myself, even when I am fighting I am thinking about the organization of the tournament and the refereeing. I am happy with both of them.DENIS MARTINS: How do you see your MMA career progressing? What are your intentions? Lubo: I will continue fighting. It gives me pleasure and I enjoy it. I am not doing it for money, for sure. My next fight will probably be in September in Bulgaria, and then in November in America. I am also coaching a few guys in Bulgaria and we are forming a team here very soon. This is the thing that makes me the happiest; the fact that I am giving my knowledge to others and see how they are winning. I already had three of my students winning a few MMA fights here in Bulgaria, and hopefully they will fight in other countries soon.

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