Black belt Manny Rocha will be representing Strive Academy in a 190lbs gi match at Fight 2 Win 97. He’ll be taking Rich Bothun of Yemaso BJJ in a challenge he’s looking forward to as a test of his skills.
Tell us a little about yourself and your story, both on and off the mats.
My name is Imanuel Rocha (Manny) I started martial arts when I was 15 and I have dedicated myself to the arts ever since. I started with Tae Kwon Do then moved on to Jiu Jitsu, Boxing and Kickboxing eventually leading me toward MMA.
I moved to Albuquerque NM in pursuit of taking my understanding of MMA to the next level. I had the opportunity to train regularly with some of the biggest names in MMA, it was a true-life changing experience. After about 2 years I got news from back home that my sister had been diagnosed with cancer… this was heartbreaking, my sister and I have always been very very close she was always there for all of us in my family. So, it was a no brained that I had to stop what I was doing and return home to try and help in any way I could.
Once she began to stabilize a bit I began to get back to training. Helping younger fighters in any way I could to further their careers. I started to realize I really enjoyed coaching and helping other people reach their goals.
What has jiujitsu done for your life?
Jiu Jitsu has literally changed the course of my life, it has allowed me to have better health, self-confidence, self-control and a better understanding of myself. It has given me opportunity to live my life doing what I enjoy most. Train, learn and teach Jiu Jitsu.
The art has amazing power to change lives for the better. It is unique in that way.
Tell us something about your training. What’s it like? Who influences you?
My training consists of quite a bit of situational training, analysis and problem solving. Hard Rolling is very important for real development. This is primarily what my training consists of.
People that influence me: Fabio Prado, Galvao (Carlson Gracie team) Marcelo Garcia, Roger Gracie, Garry Tonon and a few others.
What do you when you’re NOT training? What’s the rest of life like for you?
Jiu Jitsu is applied in 100% of my life lol but I love to develop new skills so the things I do in my spare time right now are long range rifle shooting, handgun speed and efficiency and most recently I have really been putting a lot of time into become effective with a compound bow. Soon I hope to go on my first Bow hunt. 🐗 🦌
Outside of skill development I really like hiking new areas, exploring outdoors as much as possible, I really enjoy fishing and crabbing also.
I love art, Drawing mostly but a lot of different types of art 😁
Life is very much about finding real happiness, So I try and do that every day.
What are some of the things that matter most?
Health and happiness are amongst the top of the list for what matters most. For you and your loved ones.
I think if you focus on those things you can be very happy and bring more happiness to the ones you love.
What’s one difficult thing you’ve had to overcome in your BJJ career?
In recent memory I think what has been most difficult has been having significant knee surgery. it was about a year and a half ago now, but I unfortunately have lost quite a bit of mobility in my leg flection and extension. But it has also forced me to adapt my Jiu Jitsu and learn to become effective with the mobility on that leg. So far, I would say my game has gotten better technically because of the lack of mobility.
Why are you competing at this event?
I decided to apply for the event because I believe we must continue pushing ourselves. Continue putting ourselves in uncomfortable situations that force us to be face to face with adversity and potential failure. I think this is very important for real self-growth. Thankfully Seth and his amazing team have always allowed me the opportunity anytime I have asked. For that I am very thankful to them.
Your opponent at F2W 97, what do you expect out of Rich Bothun?
I expect him to be heavy on top and relentless.
I hear he is very heavy on top position, so I look forward to the challenge. I believe in my guard, and if I get to the top position, I feel like I also can make it difficult for him.
I feel like I have an old school approach to Jiu Jitsu… get to the top position and apply continuous pressure until the frames break, then achieve position and finish the fight.
I haven’t done anything specific for the opponent. Jiu Jitsu is my life, I will go out there and fight to win. You can count on that.
Any last words before the match?
To my family at Strive Academy in Lodi Ca… We fight together.
I would like to thank everyone at Strive Academy, they all inspire me to be better every day.
Also, I would like to thank No Limits sports nutrition in Lodi for continued support with all the best supplements.
Last words… one of us will win and one will lose, but for me the battle is most important.
The true victory for me is wanting to do something in life and getting the opportunity to do it.
Love yourself, love life and love those around you. ✌🏼❤️🙏
Thank you to Seth Daniels and his entire team at Fight 2 Win.
P.S. Mike Calimbas is the man! 👊🏼✊🏼👍🏼🤙🏼🔥