Pablo Popovitch entered the 2012 NoGi Pan Ams as a favorite to win not only his weight class but also the open weight division. On Pablo's side of the bracket were Abmar Barbosa and first time Pan Ams competitor, Ezra Lenon. Pablo had a 1st round bye and popular opinion was that his first match would be against Abmar and then after the inevitable win Pablo would continue on to win the gold. In what was the biggest upset of the tournament Ezra Lenon defeated Popovitch 2 - 0 after beating Barbosa 10 minutes earlier.
BJJ Legends: Tell me a little about yourself and your training history:
Ezra Lenon: Started training in 2006 with Zack (Ezra’s older brother). He was a blue belt at time and taught me a lot of my fundamentals. After that I moved to Columbia, MO because American Top Team had the only black belts in the area. I trained under Kiko France and stayed there until they closed and I moved to St Louis a little over 2 years ago to teach at Finney’s MMA. In February of 2011 Zack and I both got our black belts from Kiko. At Finney’s I’m teaching classes 5 days a week to kids and adults. I’ve got 70 or so students between all the classes. My older brothers both train BJJ, Zack’s a black belt under Kiko and Levi is a purple belt under Scott Huston.
BJJ: How’d you manage to get your black belt so fast?
Ezra: I pretty much lived at Top Team. I was completely obsessed with training; I’d be there twice a day, six or seven days a week. I still train that much with conditioning a couple times a week, drilling two or three times a week and rolling daily with my students.
BJJ: When you saw the brackets and realized that you had two of the top guys in the world your bracket what were you thinking?
Ezra: Very excited. I couldn’t wait to test myself against this level of competition. I’m always looking to test myself and I’ve been following Pablo pretty much since I began training and knew that no matter what happened it’d be a good match up for me and would be a good match to watch. Also really excited about the absolute division but that didn’t work out because of my knee.
Pablo Popovitch was personally struck by the floods in Nova Friburgo. His mother passed in a landslide engulfing their home, "The loss I can’t even describe in words. My mom was everything to me, my friend, my number one fan. She was always so eager to help others and specially help me and my sisters. I will miss her forever", Pablo explains.
Popovitch a 3X World Jiu-Jitsu Champion, 3X Pan American Jiu-Jitsu Champion and 2009ADCC World Champion has asked the community for assitance with his father.
"At the moment he is in critical condition in a public local hospital in Teresopolis, Brazil. My goal is to move him to a private institution that can take better care of him, if he recovers, build him a new house. The problem is I only have so much resources. I need everyone’s help on this one"