Great interview below with Felipe Costa from over at BJJhacks.com. Guy never won an IBJJF tournament until he won the Mundials/World Championships his 2nd year as a black belt.
When I see teams like Lloyd Irvin, and guys like Keenan Cornelius and others with him, go from someone you've never heard of to winning the triple crown (Pan, Worlds, Euro) in a year, it's tempting to relocate, work for Lloyd, drill, work hard, and win.
But I am torn on Lloyd's long term success at the belt that is most important: Faixa Preta.
Lloyd's produced a world champion at every belt but black belt.
While at the Pan Jiu-Jitsu Championships, I watched Lloyd's guys tear apart a bunch of other top notch guys. But in talking with a buddy of mine out of Ralph Gracie, he made clear that when Lloyd Irvin guys had come to Ralph's, there was not even a comparison between their Jiu-Jitsu and the upper belts at Ralph's.
Winning tournaments, at the lower belts is one thing, he said there's just no way anyone other than a BJ Penn or some other world class talent and relentless gym rat can achieve that level of skill in only a few years.
I'm inclined to agree, as I fundamentally ascribe to incremental learning.
I've never been a natural athlete, but I have always been willing to grind and train more days out of the year.
I genuinely believe by the time you reach black belt, the depth of knowledge is just too great to overcome and win with solely exceptional tournament Jiu-Jitsu.
Seeing guys like Fowler get crushed by Megaton (no shame in that) or even JT Torres struggle to win the Worlds at black belt despite the wrecking machine he was up through black belt underscores this belief of mine.
There is rarely a substitute for simply time on the mat, no matter how much full-time training one might get in 4-7 years. BJ Penn, of course, would be the exception as he won the worlds with something like 4 years of BJJ training.