Roberto Jimenez opens up about his ‘unique contribution’ to the jiu-jitsu community

Fresh off a gold medal performance at no-gi Worlds, Roberto Jimenez spoke about his unique contributions to jiu-jitsu.

Roberto Jimenez is widely regarded as one of jiu-jitsu’s most interesting athletes, known for his unique perspective on health, nutrition and fitness, as well as his wildly entertaining style of grappling.

The Ecuadorian black belt enjoyed a busy year in 2023. He regularly competed in the IBJJF on both the gi and no-gi circuit, appeared in major professional promotions like Polaris and the UFC Fight Pass Invitational, and, in his final competition of the year, earned gold in the absolute division at the IBJJF No-Gi Worlds.

Jimenez recently sat down with Grappling Insider to speak about a wide range of topics, including his competition mindset, his sources of motivation, what he hopes to contribute to the greater BJJ community, and his unforgettable victory over Roosevelt Sousa at no-gi Worlds.

Check out the full interview with Roberto Jimenez below.

Always intense before a match, Jimenez seems to possess a laser-like focus when competing. He explained that, for him, the key to this mindset is creating an atmosphere that allows him to stay present, free from distracting thoughts:

“I’m not thinking. I’m just there. I’ll have music going, I won’t put headphones on… I’ll have it next to my head. I’ll listen to like five songs on repeat. Usually, those songs are the thoughts that I’ll have going through my head. I’m not thinking. And even if I do think about something, it’s more like the people that have been there since the beginning and the ones who have really helped me out for the fight.”

At just 23 years old, Jimenez already owns a wealth of high-level experience. He was an incredibly accomplished juvenile and colored belt competitor before earning his black belt in 2020.

Along the way, he’s drawn motivation and inspiration from successful athletes and artists:

“I learned from watching other athletes, other artists. Not only in jiu-jitsu, I’ve learned from other artists like Bob Marley, Nipsey Hustle, Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan, Pele, Messi, Ronaldo – athletes and artists that have gone through perseverance or some type of struggle where they overcome that.”

Ultimately, Jimenez thinks beyond winning medals and world championships. 

He says that his primary motivation is to contribute something special to jiu-jitsu – his own unique way of approaching the sport and martial arts in general:

“For me, it’s like, what’s the unique contribution that I can bring to the art, to jiu-jitsu? And not only jiu-jitsu but martial arts… What can I contribute to the community that’s unique? Because everybody has something unique to contribute. So that’s always what I’m looking at. Whether it be with my preparation and the way I fight… The preparation is what causes the fight to be how it is, so everything that I’m listening, everything that I’m watching, everything that I’m thinking or not thinking, what I eat, what I drink. All those things add up.”

With the moniker “Natural Rebel,” Jimenez has never shied away from his status as a steroid-free athlete. While encouraging other competitors to be natural athletes is one of his main contributions to the sport, he says that he no longer judges young grapplers who, as a result of their upbringing, use PEDs:

“I’m very open about not taking any steroids. And at this point, I don’t judge anyone that does… I feel like it’s a bit of a mental weakness to want to use it, but at the end of the day, some people are guided in that direction from a young age so you can’t really blame someone for being a product of their environment. But I know I have control of what I do.”

As an elite competitor without the help of a sponsorship or the physical advantages that come from PEDs, Jimenez is proud to be blazing his own, unique path in the sport. 

“You don’t have to be someone else to make it happen in jiu-jitsu. That’s the main thing I want to communicate. Find the things that you like and what’s a good contribution that you can make to the people in the sport.”

Ben Coate

Ben has been involved with grappling, whether through wrestling or Brazilian jiu-jitsu, essentially his entire life. After wrestling throughout his childhood, Ben found Brazilian jiu-jitsu as a young adult and quickly fell in love. He has been training for over ten years and currently holds the rank of brown belt, and remains involved in both the MMA and BJJ scene. Ben has been writing about combat sports since 2017. He has interviewed and profiled some of MMA's biggest stars, including multiple UFC champions.

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