Leandro is an Instructor at Evolve Mixed Martial Arts in Singapore. He is a Mundials World Champion in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu with over 13 years of experience. He has won numerous regional and national titles in Brazil.
Leandro is a type of guy who you don’t want to mess with. A former MCFC Featherweight Champion, he currently is a professional MMA fighter with a 9-2 record and competes in ONE Fighting Championship, Asia’s largest and most prestigious MMA event.
Leandro has also competed in the Art of War, China’s largest MMA organization. Leandro also has professional MMA fights in Brazil and the US. He has also been working on his Muay Thai with the famous Sityodtong Team. Leandro’s favorite BJJ techniques include the rear naked choke, omoplata, and flying triangle choke.
The Ubatuba, Brazil native is a 2nd degree Black Belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He trained under Roberto “Gordo” Correa at Evolve Brazil before coming to Evolve Singapore to live and teach on a permanent basis.
The Brazilian submission ace started his MMA career in 2005, beating Eduardo Felipe via submission. On July 15, 2011 it was announced that Issa had signed with One Fighting Championship. On July 18, it was announced that Issa would be facing unbeaten Korean prospect, Soo Chul Kim at ONE Fighting Championship: Champion vs. Champion at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on September 3, 2011. Brodinho won via unanimous decision against a very young and talented bantamweight fighter from South Korea. But in their rematch last October, the ONE FC bantamweight belt is at stake and unfortunately, “Brodinho” made a mistake and lost the fight via TKO.
Leandro’s biggest achievement so far as an MMA artist is when he beat the Japanese leg lock wizard, Masakazu Imanari via unanimous decision at ONE FC 4 – Destiny of Warriors.
Although he didn’t captured the ONE FC bantamweight against Soo Chul Kim, Issa is still determined to become a world bantamweight champion and be the best in his weight class.
Here’s our interview with Evolve MMA’s Leandro Issa:
MMA Orient: Your loss to Soo Chul Kim was the first time you have tasted defeat since 2008 and broke a seven fight winning streak, how much of a disappointment was that for you?
Of course this was a very big disappointment because I wanted to win the ONE FC title and because I had already beaten this opponent once before and in my heart I know I could beat him again. I don’t like to lose and losing to a fighter I had already beaten and losing in a title fight was very hard for me but in MMA no-one is undefeated, even Anderson Silva, Jose Aldo and Junior Dos Santos have lost some fights and not always to famous fighters. I talked to Chatri Sityodtong and he told me that everyone loses the important thing is to learn some lessons and become a better fighter and so I am just working hard at Evolve MMA, same like always, and getting ready to win my next fight.
MMA Orient: Do you know when your next fight will be and is there anyone in particular you would like to fight?
I want to fight Soo Chul Kim again, I think that would be fair because I beat him one time and he beat me one time so now it is like a draw between us and we need one more fight to decide the winner. I want to fight again as soon as I can and I am ready to fight anyone, I think the 135 lbs division is the strongest in ONE FC because there are many great fighters like Ueda, Fernandes, Falciroli and I heard some more fighters had signed too. I am ready to test myself against all of them, I will fight anyone but I hope that I can fight Soo Chul Kim one more time in my career.
MMA Orient: Despite coming off a loss are you happy with how your MMA career is going?
I think so, yes. Since I joined Evolve MMA in Singapore my record is 7-1 in fights and I have wins against good fighters in Asia like Masakatzu Imanari, Soo Chul Kim, Young Gwan Choi and Jiang Long Yang. I have improved a lot because I train with Muay Thai champions, boxing champions, wrestling champions and BJJ champions. Even though I was already a BJJ black belt and won gold at IBJFF my BJJ has got better since I joined Evolve MMA but for me the big difference is my striking and my wrestling, Heath Sims has helped me a lot with wrestling and Yodsanan Sityodtong has taught me boxing and I work on my Muay Thai with Attachai Fairtex a lot, these are the best coaches in the world and they have helped me a lot. I owe everything to the team at Evolve MMA.
MMA Orient: You and Zorobabel Moreira both worked your way into title contention only to fall at the final hurdle, who do you think will be the next champion from Evolve MMA?
There are so many good fighters now who will be champions soon I am sure. I think Rafael Dos Anjos is ready to fight for the UFC belt, maybe if he can win one more fight he will get a title shot and Shinya Aoki is the number one lightweight in Asia and he is fighting for DREAM soon but after that he wants to fight for the ONE FC belt and he will be ONE FC champion for sure. He is not so famous now but Bruno Pucci just joined Evolve MMA and he won the no gi world championships two times and is unbeaten in MMA and he will be ONE FC featherweight champion in maybe one or two years I think because he is still very young, only 22, so he can improve a lot working with all the world champions at Evolve MMA.
If Zoro fights Boku again he can beat him and I believe I can beat Kim so we can both be ONE FC champions, maybe we have to wait because we already fought one time for the belt but that does not mean we can never fight for it again. Then Eddie Ng who has been injured is a very good fighter and when his shoulder is better everyone will see how much he has improved, he is like the Evolve MMA’s secret because no-one knows how good he really is. There is another fighter training with us at the moment who is a Muay Thai world champion named Irshaad Sayed and even though he is not a member of the Evolve MMA fight team he is very dangerous and has a lot of power with his striking, I think he is fighting for the belt soon.
Jake Butler is going to fight for the first time soon and he is an NCAA wrestler and has been at Evolve MMA for a year and no-one knows about him yet but I think everyone will be very surprised when they see how good he is. I think everyone at Evolve MMA has potential to be a world champion in MMA because they are all champions already in either boxing, BJJ, Muay Thai or wrestling and when you learn with champions every day you improve very fast.
MMA Orient: Are you following the ONE FC Bantamweight Grand Prix and who do you think is the favourite to win it?
I don’t know because there are many good fighters. Even if Jens Pulver is older now he still has a lot of experience and is before UFC champion and for sure he is a dangerous fighter and Ueda has a very good record, one of the best in the world. Belingon also fought very good against Yusup who is one of the top bantamweights in the world, a lot of good fighters and still one more fight I don’t know about. To win this tournament will be very difficult, ONE FC has the best fighters in Asia now and there are no easy fights.
MMA Orient: With Bibiano Fernandes in line for a title shot and the winner of the Grand Prix likely to be in contention are you worried it will be a long time before you get to fight fpr the belt again?
I do not think about this, I just try to win my next fight and then win the fight after that and keep on winning and if I do that then I will get to fight for the title again in the future I think. Chatri and Heath are taking care of me and it is up to them when I fight and who I fight and I trust them 100% and ONE FC has Victor Cui and Matt Hume and so I have the best people in the world taking care of my fights. All I need to think about is training, everything else is taken care of for me and I am happy about that.