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The Martial Arts Guy

Besides the students, instructors, and owners, the thing that irritates me the most about co-owning a martial arts and fitness academy is being forced to deal with The Martial Arts Guy. This asshole will stop by your academy and tell you about every single discipline he has studied, what degree belt he has achieved, how many years he has been practicing, and famous martial artists he knows or met once or trained with on a remote island in Asia.

Today after class, I was cleaning and preparing the academy to host a two-day Tai Chi seminar when a Martial Arts Guy walked inside. Of all the BJJ joints in all the towns in Southern California, he walked into mine.

I listened to him for ten or fifteen minutes before I resumed cleaning. He apologized for interrupting me:

“No need to apologize,” I said. “I just have to finish cleaning before the seminar begins.”

“Seminar? What type of seminar?”

My mind went blank - “It's one of those martial arts that's more of self defense/meditation thing...What is it called?...Oh yeah, Tai Chi.”

“Tai Chi most definitely is a martial art,” he said condescendingly, “just not how it's taught here. I have a friend who learned Tai Chi in China. He fought a Brazlian Jiu Jitsu guy after returning to the US. My friend touched him in the chest and he flew across the room. Then, the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu guy insisted they start on the ground and my friend kneed him in the head and knocked him out.”

I was rendered speechless. He verbally submitted me, or rather, he rhetorically shot a ball of chi right into my vocal chords.

I used to be really dogmatic about martial arts, and thought, basically, if it wasn't Brazilian Jiu Jitsu or Thai Kickboxing, it was worthless. I don't feel this way anymore, and don't think it's productive to denigrate other people's arts. For example, I have nothing against Tai Chi. I don't know enough about Tai Chi to have an opinion. I do think that anyone who believes that a super advanced martial artist could manipulate something called “Chi” to defeat an opponent in hand to hand combat is delusional, but it's not like I'm going to start an argument about it with Martial Arts Guy, either. So I gave him a schedule and told him he should stop in after Labour Day for his free trial week.

My Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Shoulder Injury - Part 2 of 3: Organ Removal & Opiates

My shoulder surgery was scheduled, but a few weeks prior I woke up with lower abdominal pain at 5:30am.  Before rolling over and falling back asleep, the thought occured to me that the pain felt close to where my appendix is allegedly located.  A few hours later, I was still experiencing periodic, stabbing pain so I made an appointment to see my doctor that afternoon.  The pain improved considerably by lunch time, but after a quick assessment, my primary care physician hustled me out the door, and told me to go to the ER immediately, as my symptoms were classic appendicitis.  When I arrived at the ER, I waited for a couple of hours before being given a bed in the (packed) triage area.  My bed was next to an uninsured, loud, angry homeless man who was being treated incredibly patiently by the staff over the course of many hours.  Next to the homeless man, an LAPD officer sat guarding the room of an injured bad guy.
 
I was watching Family Guy on my personal TV monitor when the stabbing pain began to get more frequent, and more painful.  When a doctor checked in on me, I said "the pain is starting to get a little worse" so they injected morphine into my IV.  This, my friends, is something magical that everyone should experience at least once in their lives.  I could feel the warmth spread throughout my circulature like liquid euphoria.  The world, the shitty triage area, the Family Guy rerun, it was all so fucking wonderful.  At that moment, I regretted that I had but one appendix to have removed.
 
I still had pain, in fact, the morphine didn't even seem to address the pain (not that I minded), so when the doctor came by again, and asked me how I felt, I told him "I feel warm all over, but the pain is still there" figuring I might not ever get the opportunity to receive a heavy-duty opiate intravenoiusly.  So they gave me Dilaudid which is about four times as strong as Morphine.  This is like the hard liquor of opiates, and got me so high that I wasn't really aware of my body enough to know it could feel something called "pain".  This stuff was only a couple of steps away from herion which I can say with pretty high confidence must be TOTALLY AWESEOME!
 
 
A little after midnight, my surgeon and a resident came by to personally wheel me up.  The surgeon seemed mildly disgusted by the triage area, and didn't laugh when I asked him to be careful with scarring based on my work as a bikini model, but then again, the drugs were having a really negative effect on my comedic timing.  I met with a couple of nurses prior to the procedure.  One of the nurses (Filipino, of course) had actually visited Westside Training Center a few months ago.  She lives really close to the academy, but couldn't enroll her kids based on their schedule.  Small world.  They injected another drug into my IV, which the nurse explained with a giggle "is kind of like getting roofied", and less then a minute later, I was knocked out.
 
As soon as I regained consciousness I demanded to call home, which I do not remember (nor do I remember the call home itself, however, I apparently called the doctors "incompetent" and the nurses "monsters" in front of the doctors and nurses because I thought it would be funny).
 
In spite of having a breathing tube shoved down my throat, a catheter shoved up my penis, my tummy ripped open, and an organ yanked out, I probably had one of the easiest appendicitis in the history of the world.  I was heavily medicated on awesome drugs before feeling much pain, and only experienced a bit of discomfort for a few days as my internal organs jockeyed for position over the new vacancy in my abdomen.  I was back on the mat in less than two weeks.  I really don't know why people make such a big deal out of having a baby when an appendicitis is pretty much the same thing and it's not that big of a deal.
 
 
I was watching Family Guy on my personal TV monitor when the stabbing pain began to get more frequent, and more painful.  When a doctor checked in on me, I said "the pain is starting to get a little worse" so they injected morphine into my IV.  This, my friends, is something magical that everyone should experience at least once in their lives.  I could feel the warmth spread throughout my circulature like liquid euphoria.  The world, the shitty triage area, the Family Guy rerun, it was all so fucking wonderful.  At that moment, I regretted that I had but one appendix to have removed.
 
I still had pain, in fact, the morphine didn't even seem to address the pain (not that I minded), so when the doctor came by again, and asked me how I felt, I told him "I feel warm all over, but the pain is still there" figuring I might not ever get the opportunity to receive a heavy-duty opiate intravenoiusly.  So they gave me Dilaudid which is about four times as strong as Morphine.  This is like the hard liquor of opiates, and got me so high that I wasn't really aware of my body enough to know it could feel something called "pain".  This stuff was only a couple of steps away from herion which I can say with pretty high confidence must be TOTALLY AWESEOME!
 
Bikini model.
 
I met with a couple of nurses prior to the procedure.  One of the nurses (Filipino, of course) had actually visited Westside Trianing Center a few months ago.  She lives really close to the academy, but couldn't enroll her kids based on their schedule.  Small world.  The injected another drug into my IV, which the nurse said "is kind of like getting roofied", and less then a minute later, I was knocked out.
 
As soon as I regained consciousness I demanded to call home, which I do not remember (nor do I remember the call home itself, however, I apparently called the doctors "incompetent" and the nurses "monsters" in front of the doctors and nurses because I thought it would be funny).
 
In spite of having a breathing tube shoved down my throat, a catheter shoved up my penis, my tummy ripped open, and an organ yanked out, I probably had one of the easiest appendicitiuses in the history of the world.  I was heavily medicated on awesome drugs before feeling much pain, and only expeirenced a bit of discomfort for a few days as my internal organs jockied for position over the new vacancy in my abdomen.  I was back on the mat in less than two weeks, trained for a few days, and then went back under the knife for my shoulder.
 
 
 
I woke up one morning with lower abdominal pain at 5:30am. Prior to rolling over and falling back asleep, the thought occured to me that the pain felt close to where my appendix is allegedly located. A few hours later, I was still experiencing periodic, stabbing pain so I made an appointment to see my doctor that afternoon. The pain improved considerably by lunch time, but after a quick assessment, my primary care physician hustled me out the door, and told me to go to the ER immediately, as my symptoms were classic appendicitis. When I arrived at the ER, I waited for a couple of hours before being given a bed in the (packed) triage area. My bed was next to an uninsured, loud, angry homeless man who was being treated incredibly patiently by the staff over the course of many hours. Next to the homeless man, an LAPD officer sat guarding the room of an injured bad guy.
I was watching Family Guy on my personal TV monitor when the stabbing pain began to get more frequent, and more painful. When a doctor checked in on me, I said "the pain is starting to get a little worse" so they injected morphine into my IV. This, my friends, is something magical that everyone should experience at least once in their lives. I could feel the warmth spread throughout my circulature like liquid euphoria. The world, the shitty triage area, the Family Guy rerun, it was all so fucking wonderful. At that moment, I regretted that I had but one appendix to have removed.
I still had pain, in fact, the morphine didn't even seem to address the pain (not that I minded), so when the doctor came by again, and asked me how I felt, I told him "I feel warm all over, but the pain is still there" figuring I might not ever get the opportunity to receive a heavy-duty opiate intravenoiusly. So they gave me Dilaudid which is about four times as strong as Morphine. This is like the hard liquor of opiates, and got me so high that I wasn't really aware of my body enough to know it could feel something called "pain". This stuff was only a couple of steps away from herion which I can say with pretty high confidence must be TOTALLY AWESEOME!
Bikini model.
I met with a couple of nurses prior to the procedure. One of the nurses (Filipino, of course) had actually visited Westside Trianing Center a few months ago. She lives really close to the academy, but couldn't enroll her kids based on their schedule. Small world. The injected another drug into my IV, which the nurse said "is kind of like getting roofied", and less then a minute later, I was knocked out.
As soon as I regained consciousness I demanded to call home, which I do not remember (nor do I remember the call home itself, however, I apparently called the doctors "incompetent" and the nurses "monsters" in front of the doctors and nurses because I thought it would be funny).
In spite of having a breathing tube shoved down my throat, a catheter shoved up my penis, my tummy ripped open, and an organ yanked out, I probably had one of the easiest appendicitiuses in the history of the world. I was heavily medicated on awesome drugs before feeling much pain, and only expeirenced a bit of discomfort for a few days as my internal organs jockied for position over the new vacancy in my abdomen. I was back on the mat in less than two weeks, trained for a few days, and then went back under the knife for my shoulder.
I woke up one morning with lower abdominal pain at 5:30am.  Before rolling over and falling back asleep, the thought occured to me that the pain felt close to where my appendix is allegedly located.  A few hours later, I was still experiencing periodic, stabbing pain so I made an appointment to see my doctor that afternoon.  The pain improved considerably by lunch time, but after a quick assessment, my primary care physician hustled me out the door, and told me to go to the ER immediately, as my symptoms were classic appendicitis.  When I arrived at the ER, I waited for a couple of hours before being given a bed in the (packed) triage area.  My bed was next to an uninsured, loud, angry homeless man who was being treated incredibly patiently by the staff over the course of many hours.  Next to the homeless man, an LAPD officer sat guarding the room of an injured bad guy.
 
I was watching Family Guy on my personal TV monitor when the stabbing pain began to get more frequent, and more painful.  When a doctor checked in on me, I said "the pain is starting to get a little worse" so they injected morphine into my IV.  This, my friends, is something magical that everyone should experience at least once in their lives.  I could feel the warmth spread throughout my circulature like liquid euphoria.  The world, the shitty triage area, the Family Guy rerun, it was all so fucking wonderful.  At that moment, I regretted that I had but one appendix to have removed.
 
I still had pain, in fact, the morphine didn't even seem to address the pain (not that I minded), so when the doctor came by again, and asked me how I felt, I told him "I feel warm all over, but the pain is still there" figuring I might not ever get the opportunity to receive a heavy-duty opiate intravenoiusly.  So they gave me Dilaudid which is about four times as strong as Morphine.  This is like the hard liquor of opiates, and got me so high that I wasn't really aware of my body enough to know it could feel something called "pain".  This stuff was only a couple of steps away from herion which I can say with pretty high confidence must be TOTALLY AWESEOME!
 
Bikini model.
 
I met with a couple of nurses prior to the procedure.  One of the nurses (Filipino, of course) had actually visited Westside Trianing Center a few months ago.  She lives really close to the academy, but couldn't enroll her kids based on their schedule.  Small world.  The injected another drug into my IV, which the nurse said "is kind of like getting roofied", and less then a minute later, I was knocked out.
 
As soon as I regained consciousness I demanded to call home, which I do not remember (nor do I remember the call home itself, however, I apparently called the doctors "incompetent" and the nurses "monsters" in front of the doctors and nurses because I thought it would be funny).
 
In spite of having a breathing tube shoved down my throat, a catheter shoved up my penis, my tummy ripped open, and an organ yanked out, I probably had one of the easiest appendicitiuses in the history of the world.  I was heavily medicated on awesome drugs before feeling much pain, and only expeirenced a bit of discomfort for a few days as my internal organs jockied for position over the new vacancy in my abdomen.  I was back on the mat in less than two weeks, trained for a few days, and then went back under the knife for my shoulder.
I still had pain, in fact, the morphine didn't even seem to address the pain (not that I minded), so when the doctor came by again, and asked me how I felt, I told him "I feel warm all over, but the pain is still there" figuring I might not ever get the opportunity to receive a heavy-duty opiate intravenoiusly. So they gave me Dilaudid which is about four times as strong as Morphine. This is like the hard liquor of opiates, and got me so high that I wasn't really aware of my body enough to know it could feel something called "pain". This stuff was only a couple of steps away from herion which I can say with pretty high confidence must be TOTALLY AWESEOME!
Bikini model.
I met with a couple of nurses prior to the procedure. One of the nurses (Filipino, of course) had actually visited Westside Trianing Center a few months ago. She lives really close to the academy, but couldn't enroll her kids based on their schedule. Small world. The injected another drug into my IV, which the nurse said "is kind of like getting roofied", and less then a minute later, I was knocked out.
As soon as I regained consciousness I demanded to call home, which I do not remember (nor do I remember the call home itself, however, I apparently called the doctors "incompetent" and the nurses "monsters" in front of the doctors and nurses because I thought it would be funny).
In spite of having a breathing tube shoved down my throat, a catheter shoved up my penis, my tummy ripped open, and an organ yanked out, I probably had one of the easiest appendicitiuses in the history of the world. I was heavily medicated on awesome drugs before feeling much pain, and only expeirenced a bit of discomfort for a few days as my internal organs jockied for position over the new vacancy in my abdomen. I was back on the mat in less than two weeks, trained for a few days, and then went back under the knife for my shoulder.
I woke up one morning with lower abdominal pain at 5:30am. Prior to rolling over and falling back asleep, the thought occured to me that the pain felt close to where my appendix is allegedly located. A few hours later, I was still experiencing periodic, stabbing pain so I made an appointment to see my doctor that afternoon. The pain improved considerably by lunch time, but after a quick assessment, my primary care physician hustled me out the door, and told me to go to the ER immediately, as my symptoms were classic appendicitis. When I arrived at the ER, I waited for a couple of hours before being given a bed in the (packed) triage area. My bed was next to an uninsured, loud, angry homeless man who was being treated incredibly patiently by the staff over the course of many hours. Next to the homeless man, an LAPD officer sat guarding the room of an injured bad guy.
I was watching Family Guy on my personal TV monitor when the stabbing pain began to get more frequent, and more painful. When a doctor checked in on me, I said "the pain is starting to get a little worse" so they injected morphine into my IV. This, my friends, is something magical that everyone should experience at least once in their lives. I could feel the warmth spread throughout my circulature like liquid euphoria. The world, the shitty triage area, the Family Guy rerun, it was all so fucking wonderful. At that moment, I regretted that I had but one appendix to have removed.
I still had pain, in fact, the morphine didn't even seem to address the pain (not that I minded), so when the doctor came by again, and asked me how I felt, I told him "I feel warm all over, but the pain is still there" figuring I might not ever get the opportunity to receive a heavy-duty opiate intravenoiusly. So they gave me Dilaudid which is about four times as strong as Morphine. This is like the hard liquor of opiates, and got me so high that I wasn't really aware of my body enough to know it could feel something called "pain". This stuff was only a couple of steps away from herion which I can say with pretty high confidence must be TOTALLY AWESEOME!
Bikini model.
I met with a couple of nurses prior to the procedure. One of the nurses (Filipino, of course) had actually visited Westside Trianing Center a few months ago. She lives really close to the academy, but couldn't enroll her kids based on their schedule. Small world. The injected another drug into my IV, which the nurse said "is kind of like getting roofied", and less then a minute later, I was knocked out.
As soon as I regained consciousness I demanded to call home, which I do not remember (nor do I remember the call home itself, however, I apparently called the doctors "incompetent" and the nurses "monsters" in front of the doctors and nurses because I thought it would be funny).
In spite of having a breathing tube shoved down my throat, a catheter shoved up my penis, my tummy ripped open, and an organ yanked out, I probably had one of the easiest appendicitiuses in the history of the world. I was heavily medicated on awesome drugs before feeling much pain, and only expeirenced a bit of discomfort for a few days as my internal organs jockied for position over the new vacancy in my abdomen. I was back on the mat in less than two weeks, trained for a few days, and then went back under the knife for my shoulder.

My Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Shoulder Injury - Part 1 of 3

It all started a year and a half ago. Back then, my time on the mats ebbed and flowed as I went through a troubling chapter of my life. While my training was sporadic, every time I got a good, solid few weeks in, and every time the disgusting fat around my midsection started to disappear, my shoulder would begin to ache. If I took a day off, it would feel a little bit better, and then as soon as I started training hard again, it would ache some more. The more I trained, the worse it felt. When I attempted to push through the pain, it would get so bad that I was simply forced to let up until it felt better. This went on for months on end until I had a an opportunity to take some real time off.

Time Off

I went on a three-week trip to Southeast Asia, and when I returned, even before I could wash the stink of lady-boy off my body (Note:  Thailand is the only place in the world where the men are better looking then the women - see above...those are dudes), my shoulder began hurting again. So I came to the conclusion that this was not a take-it-easy-and-it-will-heal-itself injury, and finally got around to having it checked out. I assumed I would be able to stretch it or exercise it or ice it or do whatever it took to fix it up. After a few X-rays, my primary care physician sent me to physical therapy, but I ended up going to chiropractor instead (yeah, I know, don't judge me, my girlfriend suggested it, and "Yelpers" sure seemed to think he was hot shit, so I gave it a try).

Chiropractors Are Not Doctors

This chiropractor was awesome. He knew exactly what chiropractors are good for (basically, nothing), and when my injuries were beyond his area of "expertise", he suggested an MRI. A very cheap MRI that he had his staff schedule because he knew I would be paying out of pocket.

A week later, I found myself on a tray, face-up, nose three inches from the ceiling of what looked like a mausoleum, being moved deeper and deeper into the bowls of the machine. I really do not like small, enclosed spaces, but just as I started to demand they let me out, I saw a piece of tape move in front of my eyes. Someone had written on the tape "Don't panic!"

My chiropractor called me with the results, and oh my brothers, it was a horror show of damage and injury. 15 years of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is not easy on a guy's shoulders, particularly a guy who is virtually impervious to pain. The MRI conclusion included the word "arthritis". This word is terrifying for a 37-year-old to hear. It conjures up images of mobility scooters, Sons of Anarchy, and the latest issue of "Prevention" magazine sitting on my Grandmother's immaculately cleaned coffee table. I wondered if arthritis was enough to get me the senior citizen's coffee discount at McDonalds.

He finished, by saying, "the results are not good, by any means, but they are not terrible." God bless him. I am so thankful I found an honest chiropractor (I'm sure being Canadian had something to do with it.) willing to own up to the limitations of his chosen profession, and send my ruined shoulder to a specialist.

So I went back to my primary care physician (because this is what we do in the United States). When I said the word "chiropractor" she literally winced, but granted me an appointment to a shoulder specialist once she saw the MRI results.

Kristofer Jones, MD (aka Bon Fucking Jovi)

My shoulder specialist's bio suggested he is pretty much the Bon Jovi of orthopedics. The look on his face was fascinating as he reviewed my MRI pictures. He went through image by image, zoomed in and out, rotated the picture, and nodded to himself saying, "Mmm hmmm. Mmmm hmmm" as though each picture represented a familiar episode of damage that he was confident he would be able to fix.

He described a surgery that would solve the problem. It involved shaving down my bone which was chronically rubbing against another bone. It involved cleaning out scar tissue. He sounded like he knew what he was doing so I decided "why not?" I was on an HMO plan, got a lucky draw with my doctor, and it would only cost $500 (plus another $500 or so for physical therapy).

A couple of weeks later, I went under the knife, unfortunately, not for my shoulder....

2013 WORLD JIU-JITSU CHAMPIONSHIP

Brown Belt

Rooster

Small division of only 8 entries but both finalists from this year’s pans are competing: Darrison Hemmings and Henry Iribe.  They should get competition from last year’s bronze medalist Guilherme Mori of Nova Uniao.

Light Feather

The division ruled by the Miyao monsters.  Can anyone in this division not get berimbolo’d by these 2 gym rats?  They’ve been spending a lot of time with the Mendes Brothers at their Newport Beach Academy and are training with Atos’s best.  The only one stopping them is Keenan Cornelius in the absolute.  Possible bronze medalists: Johnny Munoz, Pedro Azevedo, and Adam Adshead (Bronze at the 2013 Pans).

Feather

With Paulo Miyao dropping down to Light Feather and Victor Genovesi moving up to Light, the favorite will be Gianni Grippo.  First year brown belt Denilson Bischilarri of Atos will also be in the running for Gold.  Semi-unknown Devin Maxwell is a game competitor as well – he took 2nd in the 2012 Pans losing to Gianni.

Light

You know a division is tough when Francisco “Sinistro” Itturalde isn’t even on your “A Team,” as he is representing Alliance International.  The 2 Alliance Ace’s on the main team are Gigi Paiva’s son Victor Genovesi (champion in the Feather weight last year) and Jhonny Souza (took 1st in this division at purple belt last year).  Atos will have a couple very tough fighters here with their Turkish star Ilke Bulut (won Euros this year), Jordon Schultz – who is has been a perennial medalist, and Klober Koike – unknown star in the States but is based in Japan and is a student of the Souza Brothers (Marquinhos and Roberto Satoshi).

Shoyoroll athlete Victor Silverio of GF Team is also in this division and is looking to improve on his Pans Bronze medal.  2013 Pan’s gold medalist Rafael Henrique of Gordo is here to try and grab gold again.  Aj Agazarm the self professed Acai connoisseur will also surely be in the mix.

Other competitors to watch: Gary Tonon (Ricardo Almeida/Gracie Elite), Christian Broadnax (Nova Uniao)

Middle

European stalwart Luca Anacoreta is in this division and should triangle several foes.  Alliance has 10 entries from their multiple locations and all appear to be very though led by Paul Schon, Fabio Pulita and Thomas Oyarzun.  Son of well known Carlson Gracie black belt Ricardo Cavalacanti, Romulo Cavalacanti will be tough and could medal.  Champion at the Pans James Canuto of GF Team is also in this field.  Irishman Daragh O’Conaill is another known competitor from his days on Lloyd Irvin’s reality show.  Lookout for Marcos da Silva Tinoco, who 2 years ago got double silver at Purple only losing to then rising start Felipe Pena (now a black belt) in both finals of weight and absolute.

Medium Heavy

Keenan Cornelius.  Seriously who can stop him?  Time and time again he has proven to us that he is just on another level.  But don’t be fooled there will still be lots of good fights here with competitors such as: Matheus Diniz (Alliance), Manuel Diaz (Caio Terra), Kit Dale (Checkmat), Inacio Neto (Gracie Barra)

A matchup that I hope we see would be Keenan vs. Sebastian Brosche of Frontline.  Sebastian came onto the scene a couple years ago as a total unknown and winning 2 gold medals at the Worlds.  Since then he has not been competing as much and from what I heard had focused on his yoga program.  Sebastian has world class judo and an unorthodox style of jiu jitsu that I am curious to see how Keenan would handle.

Heavy

The buzz in this division is that Checkmat ace Jackson Souza was finally able to get a visa and now the American public will be able to witness his jiu jitsu.  This is the same Jackson Souza whom Lloyd Irvin tried to get to come to the States to face Keenan Cornelius in a $5000 super fight.  Now with visa in hand, let’s hope this match up comes to fruition in the absolute.

Competitors to watch: MMA fighter Luke Rockhold (Checkmat), Justin Tevis (Gracie Barra) a strong wrestler who could surprise folks, Desmond Stockard (Kaijin MMA), Kaue Damasceno (Nova Uniao) who is probably the favorite behind Jackson (that would be a great final), Johannes Wieth (Ribeiro) has won at all belt levels and actually got 2nd here 2 years ago, Roberto Torralbas (Lloyd Irvin) Pan winner this year

Super Heavy

Luke Costello should be the overall favorite.  He has great Judo and a guard that is quite good for a man his size.  His Gracie Barra counterpart Rodrigo Pereria is coming off gold at Pans, these 2 will look to meet in the final.  Standing in their way should be Thiago Ximenes (Alliance), MMA fighter Jeffrey Boudreaux (Roberto Traven) who has medaled as a purple belt at worlds and recently got double gold in the Masters division in the Pans.

Ultra Heavy

Should be a Lloyd Irvin close out with perennial medalist Willie Leonard and Ken Brown.

 

Black Belt

Rooster

For years this division has been ruled by Bruno Malfacine and Caio Terra.  Up until this year’s Pans, Bruno had the edge in this rivalry.  Has Caio finally solved the mystery of Mighty Mouse?  We should see another rematch between the 2. 

This division appears to have more entries than it normally does with 20 competitors this year.  The man with the most bronze medals in world’s history, Felipe Costa, is once again competing.  Fabio “Monstrinho” Passos is another very talented competitor but unfortunately he is always in the same bracket as Caio.

Competitors to watch: Brandon “Wolverine” Mullins (Gracie Barra/Draculino),Milton Bastos (Paragon), Koji Shibamoto (Tri-Force)

Light Feather

Is anyone going to bet against Gui Mendes?  Ever since dropping down from feather he has owned this weight class.  No one seems to be able to solve his methodical pressure passing and brabo choke with a guard that’s appears un-passable.  The closest one thus far has been Laercio Fernandes.  This Giva Santana black belt spends most of his time preparing with Cobrinha in LA, I have to believe this is the reason why he registers as Alliance as opposed to Lotus Club.  Laercio has lost by the slimmest of margins to Gui, will this tournament be his breakout?  Getting to the finals will be tough for him as he will most likely be bracketed with Gui’s teammate Ary Farias (whom Laercio beat in the semis last year).  Ary is an incredibly talented competitor and is a favorite to medal.   Samuel Braga, arguably the inventor of the berimbolo, is back to reclaim the thrown he lost.  An underdog in this division to look out for is Gustavo Carpio of Marra Senki.  In years past he has competed up a weight at feather and did fairly well but chose to drop down in 2013.  He has had good results far medaling at the Pans and New York Open.  Old timer Gabriel Wilcox and Samir Chantre are also dangerous opponents, this division will have some great match up.

Feather

Will Rafa join Royler as a 4x champion of this division?  Or will Cobrinha beat him to it and take back the featherweight thrown?  Right now Rafa has the edge.  Presently he appears to be just that much better than everyone else in this division.  Getting a rematch will be tough for Cobrinha as he will be bracketed with Augusto Mendes.  Augusto suffered a serious neck injury 2 years ago.  Since rehabbing it he has come back and had very good results – losing by a sweep to Cobrinha at the Pans.  Remember just a short time ago Augusto beat both Rafa and Cobrinha in the same year.  In the mix for bronze will be Mario Reis (Alliance), Osvaldo Mozinho (Caio Terra/Soul Fighters), Wellington “Megaton” Diaz (Gracie Humaita) who again beats father time and has competed in every single edition of the Mundials, Sandro “Batata” Ribeiro (Gordo).

Light

The 2 headed Monster from Alliance is back!  After having US visa issues that kept him out of competition, Michael Langhi has come back strong and assumed his spot beside Lucas Lepri in closing out the Pans this year.  That said they will have a tough time in repeating this feat as Atos has just assembled its own dynamic duo of JT Torres and Roberto Satoshi.  For years now JT has been on the cusp of breaking into the elite of the sport but barely falls short.  Will his recent move to San Diego and training under Andre Galvao get him over that hump?  Since getting his black belt, Japan based Satoshi has shown he can beat the best.

The man who has had great success in recent competitions versus the Alliance duo is Leandro Lo.  Though he did suffer an upset at the hands of GF Teams Vitor Henrique at the Pans (keep in mind though Leandro was fighting up a weight at Middle), Leandro has beaten both Lepri and Langhi multiple times.  He posses probably the best toreando and open guard at the moment.

Competitors to watch: Juan Caio Kamezawa (Alliance Sao Paulo) who faired decently at the recent copa podio and won this division at brown belt last year, Nate Mendelsohn (Coalition 95) who is a new black belt under Claudio Franca, Vinicius Marinho (GF Team), Philipe “Furao” Della Monica (Gracie Barra), Zach Maxwell (Gracie Humaita) who can and could beat the top guys, fellow sherdogger Oliver Geddes (Roger Gracie)

Middle

Though there are many viable candidates in this division, my favorite here would still be Claudio Calasans.  He has elite level judo coupled with a guard that no seems to be able to solve.  If he doesn’t get hurt doing the absolute (which seems to happen) he should be in the finals.   Aside from Claudio, Atos has a strong team in this division with 5 entries (though only 2 count towards team points).  Supporting Claudio will be Davi “Mike Tyson” Ramos who has some of the most vicious foot locks in the game and Marcos Souza an underrated competitor that is not very well known due to him being based in Japan.

Barbosa’s Murilo Santana is another star that has seemed to fly under the radar.  DJ Jackson of Lloyd Irvin will also be a very tough fight with his relentless wrestling and pressure passing.

Clark Gracie and his famed omoplata will want to continue his pans success.  Will we see another viral meme from Clark at the worlds?

You know this division is stacked when I have written about several competitors without even mentioning the returning champion Otavio Sousa.  Otavio is an intense competitor and is quite possibly the most physically strong middle weight in the bracket.  He and his teammate Victor Estima will shoot to close out their division for Gracie Barra.

Competitors to watch: Gustavo Junqueira (Alliance), Ian McPherson (Alliance), Eduardo Santoro (Cia Paulista), Vitor Henrique (GF Team), Jake Mackenzie (GF Team), Lucas Rocha (Gracie Barra)

Medium Heavy

Probably one of the most exciting story lines for the worlds is the return of Braulio Estima to the tournament scene.  He has been away for a few years focusing on ADCC and his MMA career.  But in 2013 we get a lot of Braulio in the gi – recent Copa Podio superfight vs. Xande, Mundials, and upcoming Metamorsis superfight vs. Rodolfo!  Braulio looked rusty in his loss to Xande at the Copa Podio and that was a 6 minute match.  Will he have his grips and wind back to fight the 10 minute matches multiple times?  Braulio’s Gracie Barra teammate Romulo Barral is looking to repeat his gold from last year.  He suffered a somewhat surprising defeat to Guto Campos at the recent Pans.  He should bounce back from that and medal in this division.

The favorite will be Andre Galvao.  Having one of the most complete games in grappling he is also one of the most fun competitors to watch, you never know what is going to happen.  Andre closed out this division with his teammate Guto Campos at the Pans after submitting Tarsis Humphreys in the semis with a kimura.  Tarsis will try and get Andre back; it was only a few years ago that Tarsis was the world champion of this division.  He will be joined by his teammate and rising Alliance star Dimituris Souza.  Dimitrius is one that many Alliance people have said to watch as they expect great things from him.

Little known Gordo duo Renan Vital and Pedro Borges Dos Santos could surprise people.  “Rinonceronte” as Renan is known possesses amazing judo and a relentless top game (that was honed by many years of training under Terere); while Pedro has the quintisentially deep half guard you would expect from a student of Gordo.

Competitors to watch: Chris Moriarty (Alliance) is back after taking off time to finish Chiropractic school, Eduardo “Turtle Master” Telles (Brasa) who recently moved to San Diego and has been training with Andre Galvao for this tournament, Abmar Barbosa (Drysdale), Felipe Pena (Gracie Barra) who in 2012 was one of the best brown belts, Kleber “Buiu” Oliveira (Gracie Barra)

Heavy

Checkmat has 4 entries and all will be in the medal mix.  Nivaldo Oliveira and Tarcisio Jardim are looking to improve on their silver and bronze medals from the Pans this year.  They will be supported by half guard wizard Lucas Leite and upstart Yuri Simoes.  Roberto “Tussa” Alencar who beat Nivaldo in the finals of the Pans is in this division again. 

Rodolfo Vieira, who did not compete at the Pans, here wants to repeat his gold from 2012.  Aside from the weight group we are all hoping to see another Buchecha/ Rodolfo match up in the absolute (they had one of the best fights in history at last year’s Worlds).

The legend Xande Ribeiro is always in the mix with the young guns.  He is coming of a convincing win over Braulio Estima at the last Copa Podio.  He will want revenge over Rodolfo for last year’s finals loss.

Competitors to watch: Alexandre Ceconi (Ceconi Team) this Rillion Gracie black belt is good and will be a hard match up for any competitor,  Diogo Almeida (Ryan Gracie), UFC Ultimate Fighter competitor Kevin “King” Casey (Rickson Gracie)

Super Heavy

Pretty crazy that last year’s champion and absolute runner up Leo Noguerira is not representing Alliance’s A team!  The duo that will be trying to get points for Alliance’s team title will be Bernardo Farias and Leo Leite.  Both have very different games with Bernardo having his famed deep half guard and Leo being the most accomplished judo fighter in this tournament (he represents Brazil internationally).

Rafael Lovato will try and stop any sort of Alliance close out.  This is a higher weight than he usually fights but remember he did win the Ultra Heavy category in 2007 so he will be used to it.

I am very interested in seeing how Joao Gabriel Rocha does in this division.  The Soul Fighter black belt pulled of the double gold last year at brown belt.  Physically he can handle these guys and has complete game with no apparent weaknesses top or bottom.

Competitors to watch: Joao Assis (Checkmat), Bruno Bastos (Nova Uniao), James Puopolo (Ribeiro)

Ultra Heavy

No man Buchecha’s size should move the way he does.  Coming off his best year ever in 2012 he has continued his performance with a double gold at the Pans beating Galvao in the absolute final.   The only loss he has had in the past year was to his instructor Rodrigo Cavaca at the Abu Dhabi World Pro, some say it was a playful fight while others say it is the master shutting down his pupil.  In fact both are signed up for this division and will hope to close it out together.

Another Checkmat hotshot in Alexander Trans is in this division.  I imagine he will be bracketed with Cavaca and already has a win over him.  Cyborg is also here and will be trying tornado guard all opponents.

Competitors to watch: Asa Fuller (Ace Jiu Jitsu) is older but don’t be fooled as he will try and foot lock you and he also actually gets to see/train with Buchecha on a daily basis, Ricardo Evangelista (GF Team) it is said that in training no one can stop him – remember this is the same team that Rodolfo comes from, Orlando Sanchez (Gracie Barra) the widest man at the tournament, Abraham Marte (Yamasaki)

The Single Most Awesome Judo Technique Ever Created by Jigoro Kano

He had me at "hold his pants at the crotch"

Opening Westside Training Center

Hola, amigos.  I know it's been a while since I last rapped at ya, but I (Kingof Crazy) managed to take down the PullingTheLine.com web site, and I couldn't figure out how to get it back up and running.  I apologize that you have missed Monstro's insightful coverage of the major IBJJF events.  I apologize that I have done irreparable damage to the PullingTheLine brand.  I apologize to our (would-be) sponsors.  I apologize to you, meu Monstro, but I swear on Kron Gracie's top knot, this will never happen again.

After taking the web site down, I got preoccupied.  Then, three and a half months went by.  Then, a developer from Bangalore named Rahul got it back up and running in an hour.  I have definitely got to start outsourcing more, and leveraging the global economy, but this web site is not devoted to inter-country currency arbitrage, the price of gold, the higher education bubble, the Bit-Coin revolution, or the coming financial Armageddon.  It is devoted to the best sport in the world:  Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (and sometimes Hello Kitty).
 
Westside Training Center Owenrs and Renan Vital
Left to right:  The Giant Mexican, (Cookie) Monstro, Bolo, Kingof Crazie, Rinoceronte 
 
So while we've been gone, Monstro and I, along with the Giant Mexican and Bolo, started our own martial arts and fitness academy, Westside Training Center.  Pretty sweet, huh?  Yeah, you would think so, but in reality, owning a small business is really exhausting.  Prior to the four partners pooling our life savings, and personally guaranteeing a three-year lease, I assumed running an academy would be about as complex as a lemonaid stand.  You find a place, throw down some mats, the surrounding community signs expensive, long-term contracts in droves, and suddenly you're on the cover of Gracie Mag, taking expensive vacations to Rio, in the Farrari and Jaguar switching four lanes with the top down, screaming out, money ain't a thing.
 
In reality, it's a lot more difficult, and really expensive.  Don't even get me started on commercial real estate managers in the West Los Angeles area, but even if we were opening an academy in the middle of nowhere, Texas, things like the two Zebra pole pads we needed would still run an inexplicable $600*.  In addition to the unanticipated expenses, there was converting a white collar office space into a functioning martial arts academy in less than two weeks.  There was chasing away deluded Herbal Life kids stealing our parking spaces, working with a Persian landlord, figuring out how to schedule classes around our day jobs, and a heated discussion of whether or not we would be a "clothing optional" facility (I lost).
 
Basta!  Enough complaining.  Here are my top ten favorite moments of opening a new martial arts academy:
 
Kingof Crazie's Top 10 Favorite Moments of Opening a new Academy
 
The original office space that we transformed into a martial arts academy. 
 
10)  We had cubicles, dry wall, and a lot of other miscellaneous white collar garbage that we needed to haul away prior to framing the mats.  The Giant Mexican headed to Home Depot to find some day laborers to help us haul the garbage away.  When he arrived, there were a lot of laborer to choose from, so he vetted them by informing the group that "the first one to do 100 push ups gets the job".  
 
Before you get your panties all up in knots about Mexican-American on Undocumented-Mexican laborer abuse, we had to dig deep in our pockets to pay for them to quickly disassemble, throw into the truck, and cart away our junk, which they most likely recycled for even more money.  I do not have their expertise in doing what they did (it really was a sight to behold - those guys fit so much into their truck in a single haul, they must kick ass at Tetris), but if I could, I would be standing outside Home Depot in brown-face doing push ups for the next Mexican-American (or guero for that matter) who showed up in a pick up truck.  (I promise you it would be more profitable than owning a martial arts academy)  
 
 
9)  Monstro (who, if we had a baby together, according to this web site, would look like the above photo) on a ladder, attempting to unbolt the security fence, asking everyone else, "Should it be this easy?"  After five minutes of wrenching, we realized he was "unscrewing" the bolt with a socket wrench set the wrong way, which was more adorable than our future baby will be.  
 
Demolishing the office space
 
8)  The Giant Mexican using his Giant Nephew as a human sledgehammer by throwing him through the dry wall of an office we were demolishing.  This was while the Giant Mexican had walking pnumonia.  (A little fluid in the lungs isn't going to stop the Giant Mexican when there's work to be done.)  He worked himself until he vomited, he agreed it would be best if he stopped working, then he started gradually helping more and more until he was, once again, vomiting and gasping for breath.  
 
 
Cleaning up after demolishing
 
7)  Carrying over 2,000 lbs worth of Zebra mats off of a truck (alone) and into the academy.  It was 50 degrees, it took almost an hour, and twenty minutes in, I was sweating profusely.  My shirt and jeans were soaked.  Naturally, I came down with a nasty illness, an illness I was able to pass on to a handful of other people a few days later who were taking part in the epic lifting and carrying of the dismantled security gate to the dumpster area.  (It took 8 stout men to lift the thing)  We all nearly lost fingers in the process, and I managed to get a few other people sick.  (In Life-Jiu-Jitsu, illnesses are merely an opportunity to spread suffering to others.)
 
6)  The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power shut off our lights halfway through training, leading to Monstro's waiting on hold for five hours at work the next day, and a nearly $600 (seriously) bill for our deposit, first month of power, and emergency turn on.  The power came on in a couple of days, but we were forced to lay and frame the mats with flashlights.
 
Laying and framing the mats in the dark
 
5)  Receiving so much help from so many people.  I would love to call them out individually, but I am really bad with names, and you know who you are by the fact that I made eye contact with you that one time.
 
4)  The O.G. (Original Grapplers) crew.  Prior to opening the Westside Training Center facility on the first of the month, the O.G. crew trained in the rinky-dink back room of a Brazilian Cultural Center where we had to lay down mats and pull them up before and after each class.  We had to tandem park.  But the worst part about the old location was that we had to put up with training next to a room full of Zumba dancers, taught by The Sexiest Woman in the World, visible to us through a gigantic glass window that separated the rooms.  Three times a week, we had to furtively glance as she warmed up to the first song prior to stripping down to a sports bra and yoga pants, her body glistening with sweat.  It was downright offensive, to the point where I took dozens of pictures, and many more even after we moved out, as I continue to gather evidence to make a formal (albeit retroactive) complaint.
 
Some of the O.G. crew (unfortunately, we're missing the China Dolls)
 
3)  The mural:  The Giant Mexican knows some of the best graffiti artists in the greater Los Angeles area.  They are incredibly skilled.  We gave them a blank wall, a few ideas, and they created a masterpiece.  You should check it out some time.  It's much more impressive in person.
 
 

2)  The Gustavo Carpio seminar.  Gustavo is an awesome guy.  His seminar was one of the best I have ever taken.  His private lesson was one of the best I have ever received.  He will soon be the father of a daughter.  I wish he lived closer to us than Texas, because I'd love to continue learning from him.

1)  Watching students from the academy learn techniques that they then use to win competitions.  There is something about yelling a technique to someone in your academy, a technique you know that they know, and watching them perform it on a live, struggling opponent, and that feeling is better then throwing someone through drywall.
 

If you're in the West Los Angeles neighborhood, come check out our academy!  See you on the mat.  
 
*This was after shipping, handling, and tax, and while a bit pricey, working with Zebra has been a great experience, and if they wanted to give me a discount in the future for plugging them on the premier Brazilian Jiu Jitsu blog on the Internet, I would not turn them down, in fact, I might even welcome the opportunity to accept, so call me, maybe.

2012 WORLD JIU-JITSU NO GI CHAMPIONSHIP

 

 

 

Brown Belt Male

Rooster

Lower weights are usually pretty low in number of entrants.  Only one I’m familiar with here is Levy Jackson – champion at this year’s gi worlds at this belt and division; he also came second last year.  Maybe he’ll get his black belt after winning this weekend.

Light Feather

Like the rooster division there are only 4 entrants here.  Johnny Munoz from C-Quence who I think just got his brown belt after doing very well locally (So Cal guy) and at the larger IBJJF tournaments should make it to the finals. 

Feather

Interesting that Matthew Maldonado appears to be representing the Alliance “B” team– I say this since he is listed under “Alliance International.”  Curious if this is an error as he has been on an absolute tear as of late, he did very well at last weekend’s Abu Dhabi Pro trials losing to Gianni Grippo in the finals.  Matthew closed out the gi worlds division with his teammate this year.  I think he will do it again meeting Jacare’s product from Atlanta in Jeffrey Cummings.

Lookout for Matthew Aragoni from Raul Castillo BJJ; he’ll be a tough fight for anyone.

Light

This is going to be a division that I will enjoy watching; in my view 3 fighters here with equal chances to win: Rafael Pereira (Gordo Bjj/Gracie Elite), Aj Agazaram (Gracie Barra), and Gary Tonon (Renzo Gracie/Ricardo Almeida/Tom Deblass/Gracie Elite).

Rafael and Aj had a controversial match in the recently concluded Miami Open.  Controversial as some felt Aj was fleeing the mat on several occasions, in the end Aj got the win.  Both are on opposite ends of the bracket and could meet in the finals.

Aj, the former Ohio State Buckeye wrestler, will have a tougher route getting to finals. Barring an upset he would meet Gary in the semis.  These 2 have gone against each other several times this year.  I think Aj won their last meeting at the ADCC trials but prior to that Gary had put Aj to sleep at the Pan No Gi I believe.

Middle

This is a stacked division!  Watch out for Brian Morizi (Atos BJJ), Francisco “Sinistro” Itturalde (Alliance Ecuador), Sean Roberts (Ralph Gracie/Gracie Elite), Nathan Mendelsohn (Coalition 95/Claudio Franca) and Paul Schon (Cobrinha/Alliance),

Brian Morizi has been on the competition scene for many years now.  If you live in Southern California you will for sure have seen him.  He had been really successful at the lower belts representing Gracie Barra, but since his move to training under Andre Galvao, I feel his jiu jitsu has sky rocketed.  He’s been a brown for not even a year now but has been very successful.

Sinistro is probably the favorite of the division.  At such a young age he has already accomplished so much in his jiu jitsu career.  I believe he is now based in New York and training consistently with Fabio Clemente and crew and probably Marcelo Garcia as well.  He did well at last weekend’s Abu Dhabi pro and will look to continue his win streak. 

Nate Mendelsohn is an avid competitor based up north in Santa Clara.  He has won numerous tournaments here and all over the world.

Medio Pesado

Keenan Cornelius – that is all – seriously, it’s not even fair.

Pesado

Roberto Torralbas should win this one; I think he runs the Third Law Lloyd Irvin School in Florida.  He is a frequent competitor and should add another medal.

Super Heavy

Only one I am familiar with here is Abner Soares of Brazilian Top Team.  He won this division at Purple last year and I believe gi Pans the year before.  He is a little small for this division, looks to be Middle Heavy but probably moves up to utilize his speed.

Ultra Heavy

Lloyd Irvin’s behemoths have this division on lockdown.  Willie Leonard has been winning this division since blue belt; he should be favored to win again.  I’m pretty sure if he meets his teammate Kenneth Brown in the finals they will fight.  Lloyd’s guys always go at it.

 

Black

Rooster

Caio Terra vs. Monstrinho in the finals; a rematch of the American Nationals No Gi Finals.  Will the Alliance rep be able to beat Caio?

Light Feather

Though he didn’t get a bye in the first round, I still think Laercio Fernandes is the favorite here.  This Giva Santana product trains frequently with Cobrinha, so you know he will be sharp!  Laercio lost a close fight to Gui Mendes in the finals of this year’s Gi Worlds.  I think he will get that mundial gold he’s been looking for this weekend.

Rafael “Barata” Freitas gets a bye and should meet Laercio in the semifinals.  The other side of the bracket should go to Marcelo Garcia’s training partner Henrique Rezende.  The Alliance guys are very high on Henrique.  He hasn’t really broken through yet on the main stage, this could be this weekend if he gets to the finals and beats Laercio.       

Feather

With the Mendes Brothers living in California now I was really hoping they would do these Worlds.  Doesn’t seem that way as they appear to be focusing on their new Newport Beach school.  That means latest Cobrinha vs. Mendes edition will have wait till next year’s Pans.

The clear favorite here will be Cobrinha.  I don’t think he’ll really break a sweat

Cobrinha should meet Rafa’s training partner Ed Ramos in the finals.  If Cobrinha is on that day there really shouldn’t be a problem

Look out for Justin Rader (Lovato BJJ), Samir Chantre (Gracie Elite) and Osvaldo “Quexinho” Moizinho (Gracie Elite, but I think a Soul Fighter Black belt – too bad he is on Cobrinha’s side of the bracket though)

Light

This is going be a closely watched division with Lucas Lepri (Alliance), JT Torres (Lloyd Irvin) Leandro Lo (Cicero Costha), Augusto “Tanquinho” Mendes (Soul Fighter) and Zach Maxwell (Gracie Humaita/Regis Lebre) all vying for gold.

Not much more needs to be said about Lucas and Leandro.  They have met several times over the past 2 years, normally in the finals, with Leandro usually edging out a victory.  I had my concerns about how Lo’s gi game with translate to no gi.  He relies heavily on the sleeves and pant legs with his spider guard, x-spider guard, and toreando passing.  But he did win last weekend’s No Gi brasileiros, so that should quell some concerns.

Jt Torres is a perennial competitor who has a bright future ahead of him.  He hasn’t won too many IBJJF medals at black belt (I believe 3rd at worlds last year may have been his best showing) but he has lost some tough and controversial fights.  There is so little that sets the top competitors apart, it really all depends on if it is their day or not.  I know that Jt is hungry and one day soon he will get that elusive black belt gold.

Tanquinho is coming off knee surgery and slowly getting back into the groove.  Prior to his knee surgery he had come off 2 wins vs. Rafa Mendes and Cobrinha.  Once he gets back into form, Tanquinho will wreck havoc in the Feather and Light divisions.

Zak Maxwell is a machine!  He shows no emotion win or loss.  I really enjoy watching his game and he looks to have fitted into his black belt nicely; he holds a win over Kron Gracie.

Middle

Riding his win over Cyborg last weekend at the World Pro Trials, DJ Jackson may be the favorite here.  His immense pressure and superior wrestling seem tailor made for no gi.  Aside from the Cyborg win, Dj already holds wins over Lucas Lepri and Ian McPherson – all in just a couple months at black belt.  Dj could possibly have a rematch in the finals with Bill “The Grill Cooper.  They fought at GrapplersQuest (I believe DJ was a purple belt) and Dj was able to get a leg lock submission win over Cooper.

Clark Gracie and his omoplata will try and stop that rematch as he is in the same bracket as Cooper.  But this is if Clark beats Murilo Santana in his 2nd fight – which will be tough.  Murilo doesn’t get much exposure as he comes from a smaller school in Barbosa BJJ and competes mainly in Brazil.  But this guy is good!  He will be in the hunt for gold.  I wouldn’t be surprised with a DJ vs. Murilo final.

Medium Heavy

We have Kleber “Buiu” Oliveira (Gracie Barra Rio), Victor Bomfim (GF Team), Ezra Lenon (ATT), Pablo Popovitch (Avengers), and Romulo Barral (Gracie Barra BH).

Barral is one of the favorites here.  He has had a good year thus far winning gold at the Gi Worlds in June; all coming after reconstructive knee surgery.  But I am not completely sold on Barral’s no gi game – I think mostly due to his style of guard play.  He has not done too well at the ADCC’s, losing in the first round at the most recent edition.  But recently he seems to be favoring the top position more with his ridiculous knee slide passing, maybe he will come out and show us some take downs.

Buiu, Bomfim, Lenon and Popovitch are all in the same side of the brackets.  This undoubtedly will be the tougher route to the finals.  Buiu is an explosive specimen, a sort of poor man’s Jacare.  He has had extensive training with Roger Gracie and will look to close out the division with teammate Barral.

Victor Bomfim is unknown here in the States but has been very successful locally in Brazil.  He recently left Gordo Jiu Jitsu and has joined GF Team.  Training with the likes of Rodolfo, Ricardo Evangelista, Wancler Oliveira, etc should definitely have improved his game.

Ezra Lenon came on the radar only recently with his wins over Abmar Barbosa and Pablo Popovitch.  Should he make it through the earlier round he will have a rematch with Pablo in the semis.

Pablo Popovitch, Weapon X himself.  I am always amazed at how this man can make it to medium heavy!  He is huge!  He has won his division at the No Gi worlds for several years now and probably one of the more successful no gi competitors out there – he’s done very well at all the ADCC’s he’s competed in.  A Barral vs. Popovitch final will be very interesting to watch.

Heavy

Pretty good field here – my 2 personal favorites are Rafael Lovato and Nivaldo Oliveira; but they are both on the same side of the brackets.

Side 1 has Roberto “Tussa” Alencar (Gracie Barra), The Turtle Master Eduardo Telles (Brassa), and Diego Gamonal (BTT).

Tussa is always a favorite to make it into the later rounds, he has one of the most memorable No Gi Worlds fights ever when he beat Marcello Louzado with a triangle in the last 30 seconds, I think 2009 edition?

Eduardo Telles is I believe a recent San Diego transplant, I think he is teaching out of Robert Lovi’s gym.  From what I’ve heard he’s been training over at Galvao’s gym getting ready for this tournament, so he should be in shape to compete.

David Avellan is an interesting entry here.  I am not too familiar with his BJJ lineage as I always thought he came from a sort of grappling hybrid background.  But he holds wins over some of BJJ’s biggest stars: Lovato, Tarsis Humphreys, Xande Ribeiro, and Cyborg – I think most if not all came at ADCC.

Super Heavy

Only 7 competitors but 5 of whom could win and it wouldn’t be too much of a surprise.

Alliance’s heavyweight duo of Bernardo Farias and Antonio Peinado will look to not only close out this division but the absolute as well. 

The Checkmat combo of Joao Assis and Tarcisio Jardim will be no push over’s.  Joao has a bye in the first round and should meet Farias in the semis.  Tarcisio get’s a tough first match in Peinado but the winner of that will have to face the legendary Xande Ribeiro.

Xande should be on point as he has probably been focusing on no gi for several months now due to his recent no gi super fight vs. Dean Lister.   I think Xande meets Farias in the finals, a rematch of the 2011 world’s gi final where Bernardo squeaked out a win over Xande. 

Ultra Heavy

Who can stop Cyborg?  Judging from the list, I don’t think anyone can.  This will be his division to lose

 

Female Black Belt

Light Feather

Final will be Nyjah Easton (Lloyd Irvin) vs. Sofia Amarante (Avengers).

Feather

Recently promoted black belt Ana Carolina Vidal should win this division.

Light

Only 3 competitors but Bia Mesquita (Gracie Humaita/Leticia Ribeiro) is in it.  She is always fun to watch with her technicality and intensity.  She will also be a favorite in the Absolute.

Middle

Just 2 competitors, but are in the top 10 women practitioners in the world right now. 

Penny Thomas (Gracie Humaita/Limao JJ) goes  against Luisa Monteiro (Cicero Costa).  Penny is an avid competitor and is probably one of the most familiar faces in the women’s scene.  She lost to Fernanda Mazzelli in the finals of the gi worlds this year.

Luiza Monteiro has really come around in the last year.  I believe she got most of her training from Checkmat but this year joined her boyfriend Leandro Lo over at Cicero Costha.   At the gi edition of the tournament this year, Luiza took gold in her division and silver in the absolute – where she beat Luanna Alzuguir in the semis.

Medium Heavy

Michelle Nicolini – not cause she’s the only entrant but she is also bad a$$!  She’ll rest and be a favorite for the finals.

Heavy

The women here are breathing a sigh of relief, no Gabi Garcia this year!  2 entrants in Tammy Griego (Gracie Barra/Tussa Alencar) and Fernanda Mazzelli.  I think Fernanda wins this.

2012 WORLD JIU-JITSU CHAMPIONSHIP

 

 

 

You know that Christmas song “It’s the most wonderful time of the year”?  Well that’s usually how I feel during last week of May/first week of June.  The Mundials are here!

Below is our preview of the Brown Belt Male, Black Belt Male, and Black Belt Female.  One day I do hope to be able cover all belts for both the male and female competitions.  Unfortunately I've got a job that occupies 12 to 14 hours of my day, full coverage just isn’t going to happen anytime soon!

Disclaimer:  This is going off the “final” list printed on Saturday.  I know that brackets are out and I was way too far into writing this to look through brackets and alter the preview.  

Let’s get started!

 

Brown Belt

Rooster

This division only has 12 entries.  The clear favorite is last year’s silver medalist in Levy Jackson of Checkmat.

Special shout out to Gracie Barra’s lone representative Steve Trocino.  I started training with Steve many years ago and wish him success at this year’s tournament.

 

Light Feather

Ronaldo Candido, last year’s Champion and this year’s Pan Champion is back to defend his throne.  Looking for revenge is 2011’s runner up Isaac Chavez of Nova Uniao.  Other’s wanting to spoil a repeat of last year’s final should be the duo from Alliance in Matthew Maldonado and Thomas Lisboa (bronze medalist in 2011).

 

Feather

How is Jonathan Thomas still a brown belt?  His partner at weight over the years, Michel Langhi, has moved up to the black belt.  Jonathan looks to repeat his win a year ago.  Replacing Michel is Victor Paiva, son of Alliance Legend Gigi Paiva.  A third person to look out from Alliance is Pedro Torres who got Bronze in this weight group at purple belt.  Pedro has been honing his skills at the Alliance Orlando with Bruno Malfacine.

Aside from Jonathan, another heavy favorite here is Gianni Grippo.  This John Danaher student has had a lot of success even at such a young age.  He has already won the Pans this year and looks to add another medal to his growing collection.

People to look out for: Davin Maxwell of Cassio Werneck - silver medalist at 2012’s Pans,  Eduardo August Carvalho of Alliance,  Rafael “Ze Triangulo” Costa of Gracie Elite, Josh Vogel of Balance Studios/Relson Gracie, Andris Brunovskis of Lloyd Irvin – talk about a sick guard!

 

Light

Now this is a loaded division!  The gold and silver medalists from last year are back in Jordon Schultz and Ralph Go of Atos Philippines (big shout out to him as he is the most accomplished competitor in my home country!).  The only difference is that Jordon now represents Lloyd Irvin, a side story that added a little bit of intrigue at this year’s Pans when he faced off against former teammate Sinistro in the first round.  Hopefully things have died down and we can get back to jiu jitsu.  Even though these 2 were the top dogs last year, odds are they won’t meet again in the finals.

Standing in the way is the talented duo from Gracie Barra – AJ Agazarm and Stephen Martin.  AJ is a former Ohio State wrestler and Stephen is a pupil of Braulio Estima at Gracie Barra Birmingham.  They already got gold and silver at the Pans and look to repeat the feat this weekend.

Chris Visentin will be hoping to close out the tournament for Atos with Ralph Go.  Chris has been very successful at the Mundials winning the Blue and Purple belt divisions.  Like Jordon, Chris decided to leave Alliance as well and move across the country (he was a Fabio Clemente/Lucas Lepri student at Alliance New York) and join Andre Galvao and his stellar army of competitors

People to look out for: Nathan Mendelsohn of Claudio Franca/Coalition 95 – depending on the brackets he has a very good chance of medaling, Diogo Almeida of Gracie Barra Rio de Janeiro, Gary Tonnon of Ricardo Almeida – unknown to must but is an excellent grappler, Daren Roberts of Lloyd Irvin – another Alliance transplant, a couple years ago I had the pleasure of training with him in Atlanta and he is an extremely talented competitor but an even better teacher.  He runs one of the best kids programs I have seen.

 

Middle

The revelation of this year’s Pans is thankfully back for the Worlds.  Renato Cardoso of Checkmat had everyone on the edge of their seats at this year’s Pans.  He foot locked his way to a double gold and I really enjoyed watching him do it.

Moving back up from light is Sinistro Itturalde of Alliance.  His impassable guard will surely be in the medal mix.  Speaking of guards, another one to watch is Beneil Darush, this student of Bruno “Mamute” Paulista has been preparing vigorously with Romulo Barral and Company.  Beneil has been winning medals at all the tournaments for a couple years but really got this year when he gave Kron Gracie all he could handle at the Abu Dhabi Pro trials. 

The tag team of Ronis Gracie and Sean Roberts from Gracie Elite will surely go far in the brackets.  Ronis has been preparing for this with the boys from Atos, so you know he will be sharp. 

Now 2 competitors that I always have enjoyed watching are DJ Jackson and Alec Baulding.  I had always thought that if these 2 fought each other it would be a great battle with DJ’s ungodly strength and top game against Alec’s incredible athleticism and guard.  Now that they are in the same division they happen to be on the same team!  Along with Daren Roberts and Jordon Schultz, Alec left Alliance at the beginning of this year.  But from past experience it seems that Lloyd Irvin teammates have no ill feelings about facing each other in the finals, if they do meet hopefully we will be treated to a great fight.

People to watch: Luca Anacoreta of Aeterna Jiu Jitsu – lost in last year’s purple finals to DJ Jackson, Brian Morizi of Atos – he may have just gotten the brown belt but be sure he will be hunting for the gold, Adam Piccolotti of Raul Castillo

 

Medium Heavy

I think that we will have a Gracie Barra closeout here with Felipe Pena and Charles Negromonte.   If this happens they should fight in the finals as they have already done so this year at the recent Brazilian Nationals final.  Felipe is having a lot of success in the past year.  He doubled up at the 2011 Worlds at Purple and this year has already defended his brown belt with gold at the Pans and Brazilian Nationals.

An intriguing entry here is the new brown belt Sebastian Broesche.  Up until 2010 no one had any idea who Sebastian was but he took the worlds by storm and won weight and absolute at Purple Belt.  He did this after being only a purple belt for a couple months.  It seems he is in the same situation again, can he repeat the feat at brown belt?

People to watch out for: Dan Schon of BJJ Revolution, Abner Soares and Gabriel Procopio of BTT – both have had success at the lower belts, Yuri Schneider of Godoi – constant medalist at Purple and a newly promoted to brown belt, Ilari Gronholm of Hilti BJJ, Roberto Torralbas of Lloyd Irvin – he has medaled at many major tournaments and is coming off a silver at the Pans, losing only to Felipe Pena

 

Heavy

The favorite in this division should be the German, Johannes Wieth.  This Saulo Ribeiro student runs a school in Munich but trains several months out of the year with Rafael Lovato and Saulo.  Johannes has won the mundials at Blue and Purple.  In 2011, his first year as a brown belt, he took 2nd in his category.

Since Joao Rocha has moved up to Super Pesado, Johannes’s main competition should be in Jurandi Concencaio.  This Godoi student has already won gold at this year’s Pans and got bronze at the 2011 worlds.

 

Super Heavy

Favorite Joao Rocha of Soul Fighters should continue his winning ways.  Joao won the heavy division in 2011 but so far in 2012 he has had just as much success in the heavier weight class.  Joao has it all - a good Judo game with tight passing and possess a deadly guard.    Speaking of good Judo, Luke Costello is in this division and should give a run for the gold.   Depending on how the brackets pan out, look for these two to meet sometime in the competition, hopefully in the finals.

People to watch: Thiago Xiemens of Alliance – he usually competes in the Ultra Heavy, but he probably got tired of losing to Willie Leonard! Aaron “Tex” Johnson of Alliance – Tex got bronze in this division last year and Silver at this year’s Pans.

 

Ultra Heavy

One name here, Orlando Sanchez.  This mountain of a man owns the division in 2012.  Orlando is coming off a double win at the Brazilian Nationals; some say this is a harder feat than doing so at the Worlds.  Orlando has had a fast rise in the jiu jitsu ranks; I want to say he’s been training for 3 to 4 years now. 

A curious entry into this category is Orlando’s teammate Lucas Rocha.  Lucas usually fights in the middle weight division, he is several weight classes up and probably is outweighed by over a 100 pounds.  I am not sure if this is an error or if this is a strategic maneuver on Gracie Barra’s part.  Regardless of the weight disadvantage, this Ze Radiola student (he also is his nephew) is very talented and will do well.

The one with more than just a chance to spoil Orlando’s run is Willie Leonard of Lloyd Irvin.  The only reason Willie didn’t medal at the Pans was because he fought Orlando in the first round.  Brown belt brackets are made randomly and no one is seeded.  Hopefully these 2 are at opposite ends of the bracket and would meet in the final. 

Lastly, a third favorite here should Abraham Marte of Yamasaki Academy.  Abraham lost a controversial final last year to Alexander Trans.    If he doesn’t run into Willie or Orlando in the first few rounds, he should easily make it to the medal fights.

 

Black Belt

 

Rooster

Wow, 22 people have entered this division.  This is probably double the usual amount of entrants.  Even with the larger field, it really doesn’t matter as this is Bruno Malfacine’s division.  He moved up a weight class at this year’s Pans and was very successful winning the gold over Gui Mendes.  As usual his main competition will come from Caio Terra.  Caio has beaten Bruno in the past and all their fights are either exciting or controversial.

Felipe Costa of Brasa has been competing for a long time.  I think he has the record for the most mundial bronze medals for any competitor.   If Caio and Bruno are on point, he should add to that collection.

Rafael “Barata” Freitas, the inventor of the Baratoplata, is in this division as well.  Along with Felipe, Barata will compete for the bronze medal.  

A tough draw for the favorites will be Milton Bastos of Paragon.  This Franjinha student not only has the skills to compete here but has the physical strength to overpower some of these rooster weights.  If someone were to pull an upset it could be him.

But let’s face it; this division is all about Caio and Bruno.  It has been this way for a few years now and this tournament should add another edition to their rivalry.

 

Light Feather

This is Atos’s division to lose with both entries arguably being the favorites.  Ary Farias and Gui Mendes shared the title last year and look to do it once again in 2012.  Gui is coming off a disappointing loss to Bruno Malfacine at this year’s Pans; he’ll surely want to erase that memory.  Ary Farias on the other hand seems to have been MIA since last year’s worlds, if I am correct the only major tournament he has done since then was the World Pro Trials in Gramado.  Ary lost in the semifinals to the Isaque Paiva – who actually went on to beat Ary’s teammate Bruno Frazzato in the final.

The person with the best shot to ruin an Atos closeout would be Samuel Braga of Gracie Barra.  Samuel is a multiple time world champion but is usually remembered for his post fight altercation with Gui Mendes that caused Samuel’s disqualification and Worlds silver medal a couple years ago.  Samuel’s teammate Pablo Silva will be a tough fight for anybody and depending on the brackets should meet one of the Atos duo in the semifinals.

If you are a reader of our blog you might remember that we have been fans of Laercio Fernandes for awhile.  He seems to be on the cusp of breaking through with the elite fighters but has fallen short several times.  I thought his win at the American Nationals over Caio Terra 2 years would push him over but he just hasn’t gotten there yet.  Laercio has been training extensively with Cobrinha this year and hopefully this will get him to the top of the podium.

People to watch: Henrique Rezende of Alliance – this Marcelo Garcia student is very good and could surprise folks, Gabriel Wilcox of Brazilian Fight, Carlos Hollanda of Checkmat – Esquisito beat Caio Terra at the Pans 2 years ago and has done very well at the No Gi Worlds, Bernardo Pitel of Nova Uniao – he seems to have been around forever, if my memory is correct he won the worlds in 2001, Dai Yoshioka of Tokyo Yellowmans – owner of the most boring gi but came in second in 2008 to Samuel Braga

 

Feather

Can anyone stop Rafa?  Seriously?  Coming off possibly his strongest performance to date at this year’s pans – all submissions including Justin Rader, Mario Reis, and Cobrinha; Rafa has said he looks to improve and show an even better performance at the worlds.  Cobrinha has thrown his name into the mix and should be the second favorite meaning if he were to try and avenge his defeat it would have to be in the finals.  I’ve been a Cobrinha fan for a long time but Rafa just seems to be above the rest of the field.  He is young and does not have to teach classes daily like Cobrinha – for the time being, the Mendes Bros new school opens June 4th.  I think the biggest question here is, if they do meet again, will Rafa be able to submit Cobrinha for a 2nd time?

This year’s tournament also marks the return of a jiu jitsu legend.  It appears that Fredson Paixao has entered this division.  Fredson is a Gracie Barra legend from Manaus and shares a similar lineage to Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza – both are linked to Osvaldo Alves.  That’s one of the things that I love about jiu jitsu, you can see the heroes of yesterday face off against the stars of today – now if we can only get a Roger vs. Rodolfo fight going…..

People to watch: Isaque Paiva of Cicero Costha - So far this year he has already beaten Bruno Frazzato and Ary Farias, a little unknown but will make a lot of noise this weekend, Mike Fowler of Atos – since leaving Lloyd Irvin he has dropped down a few weight categories and got bronze at the Pans, Samir Chantre of Gracie Fighter, Wellington Dias of Gracie Humaita – I think he has competed at every single edition of the Mundials, Justin Rader of Ribeiro Jiu Jiutsu – comes off a win at the Dallas Open, Marcelino Freitas of Nova Uniao – unknown to some but a very strong competitor; look for him to make some noise in this division, Sandro “Batata” Santiago – his Batata Loop Choke DVD was one of my first instructional when I started jiu jitsu.

 

Light

2 stars from last year’s edition are glaringly missing from this category: Gilbert Burns (focusing on MMA) and Michael Langhi (Reportedly due to Visa issues).  Adding to this absence is Kron Gracie who has decided to move up a weight division making JT Torres the only returning medalist from 2011.

Based off performances in 2012 the favorite here is probably Leando Lo of Cicero Costha.  Leandro came on the scene early last year when he was the first person in a long time to defeat Michael Langhi.  He repeated this feat in the finals of the most recent Brazilian Nationals. 

Coming off a silver medal at this year’s Pans, Lucas Lepri will look to avenge that lose to Leandro Lo.  Lucas has been has stalwart in this division for a few years now.

The young upstart Robert “Satoshi” Souza is another favorite.  At this year’s Europeans he beat both Michael Langhi and JT Torres.  He’s has been able to accomplish all this with barely a year at black belt.

JT Torres continues his journey for that elusive black belt gold.  This Lloyd Irvin student has all the tools in the world to be at the top of the podium, I think it’s only a matter of time.  He had quick “Terere” like stint at the Super Heavy division in this year pans due to a severe sickness the week prior to the tournament.  Hopefully this doesn’t happen again and he enters the worlds at full steam.

Zak Maxwell will be in the mix for a medal.  Zak is the most unassuming competitor, win or lose his demeanor never changes, I am not sure if I have ever seen emotion from him.  Much like him, his jiu jitsu is very straight forward and he is a talent.  His biggest accomplishment this year was his win over teammate Kron Gracie at the Abu Dhabi trials.

I feel strange calling this guy my dark horse but Davi Ramos appears to be overlooked by most people.  First of all he is probably the largest and strongest light weight out there.  I really am baffled at how he makes the cut in this division.  Add in his penchant for foot locks and this guy is a threat to submit anyone, at weight or absolute.

People to watch: Renan Borges of Brazilian Top Team, Philipe “Furao” Della Monica, Tim Peterson of Lotus Club/Robot Jiu Jitsu – this local Southern California Bjj standout has be preparing for the worlds with Team Lloyd Irvin; so you know he will be ready.

 

Middle

Like last year this is probably the most stacked division of the tournament, even with the absence of jiu jitsu god Marcelo Garcia.  Last year’s runner up Lucas Leite is back from his honeymoon at the Heavy Division (where he did have good success winning last year’s No gi worlds and this year’s Pans).  Lucas lost to Marcelo last year in the finals and will want that gold.  In his way will be a host of tough fighters.

In my view Claudio Calasans might be the favorite in this division.  He is one of the few lighter guys that truly have a shot in the absolute division.  He possesses an incredible judo game that goes along with a wicked guard.  Last year he suffered a pretty bad injury in the absolute category (against Rodolfo Vieira and was one of Rodolfo’s toughest fights at the 2011 tournament) that limited his participation in his weight group.  Hopefully this does not happen again and we see Claudio competing in his weight category.

Abmar Barbosa and Jake Mackenzie are 2 youngsters that will give everyone a tough time.  Depending on how seeding works these 2 could make a deep run in the tournament.

Otavio Souza of Gracie Barra appears to be back in form with double gold at this year’s New York and Long Beach Spring Open.  Otavio’s been preparing very hard for this tournament with his Professor Ze Radiola leading the Mundials camp over at Gracie Barra Headquarters.  Otavio’s teammate Victor Estima will definitely be in the hunt for the gold as well.  Victor lost in the finals of this year’s Pans to Calasans and will look for a rematch.  Victor also has a brewing rivalry with Kron Gracie that culminated into some unpleasant words at their super fight during the World Jiu Jitsu Expo a few weeks ago.  Kron is also in this division and will surely welcome a rematch against Victor.

Bill “The Grill” Cooper is back!  I think Bill’s last IBJJF tournament was at last year’s Pans where he lost to eventual champion Lucas Lepri.  At one time Bill was America’s next big thing in jiu jitsu but he seemed to step away from competition for a bit, in the gi at least.  Mat rust or not (he did just beat Nino Schembri at the World Expo) Bill is one of the most exciting competitors to watch; his matches are fast paced and keep your attention.

People to watch: Clark Gracie of Gracie Elite Team, Gustavo Junqueira of Alliance – I’ve been watching him at the lower belts for awhile and he is ready to take center stage; he beat Otavio Sousa at last year’s worlds but stepped aside for his Alliance teammate to continue since he was part of the “B” team, Gabriel Goulart of Alliance – another stud at the lower belts winning the purple absolute a couple years ago, Ryan Beauregard of BJJ Revolution – an extremely tough and intense competitor, Murilo Santana of Barbosa  Jiu Jitsu – don’t be surprised if he medals as talent wise he us up there with the favorites and hopefully continues his winning streak from the Brazilian Nationals.

 

Medium Heavy

The question here is can Barral get back to his 2009/2010 form?  Prior the knee injury sustained in a match against Tarsis Humphreys, Barral was on the heels of Roger Gracie.  Ever since his return from that unfortunate injury, Barral appears to be off rhythm.  Maybe it’s because we are used to seeing gold around Barral’s neck as he has medaled at most tournaments since his return, but he just doesn’t seem to be the Barral of old.  I really will be pulling for him and hope he gets success both at weight and absolute – the one gold he has been chasing.

The favorite in this division will be Andre Galvao.  Aside from Rodolfo, he’ll be a heavy favorite in the absolute as well.  Andre is one competitor who has found the perfect balance between being a top coach and a top jiu jitsu competitor.  One would think leading a team such as Atos daily would hinder his own personal competition performance, so far he has proven this wrong.  As tough as this division is, I would be hard pressed to think of anyone who will stop Andre from getting that gold.

Shoyoroll sponsored athlete Nivaldo Oliveira should make waves as well.  He is probably not as well known as the other competitors but don’t be fooled, he is good.  In the process of getting double gold at this year’s Brazilian Nationals, Nivaldo beat the aforementioned Romulo Barral.

Renan Vital of Gordo/Gracie Elite is another unknown competitor but aside from being a good friend of ours, he is also a very talented practitioner.  He seems be at the point where he is about to break onto the scene, this year he was able to get Bronze in a very stacked heavy division at the Pans.  We are hoping he can continue to put things together and get success at this year’s worlds.

A fan favorite here will be Rafael Lovato.  Rafael normally fights up a weight class so he will be an intimidating presence in the division.  If he wins gold he will be the first American to win twice at black belt.

Famed Sherdoger Oliver Geddes is in the bracket.  He is coming off an impressive win over Marcos Souza at this year’s Europeans.  He has bulked up in the last couple years, add to that to his technical half guard and he should do well at the worlds.

People to watch: Ian McPherson of Alliance – was an absolute beast at the lower belts; fast paced and exciting to watch, Marcos Souza of Atos/Bonsai, Eduardo Telles of Brasa – the turtle master!

 

Heavy

Rodolfo!  End of preview… no really, who can stop this guy?  He has had an incredible string of success with a blemish at the last ADCC where Dean Lister caught him with a foot lock, but that was without the gi.  No one has been able to replicate this in the kimono yet.  There are a few competitors that may have a shot against him but they are not in his weight class. 

Tarsis Humphreys is back after a hiatus due to a knee injury.  He usually fights a weight class below and was normally physically stronger than his opponents.  Interesting to see how this jump in weight will affect his game.

Yuri Simoes the youngster from Checkmat makes his world’s black belt debut.  So far in 2012 he has done alright for himself beating Rafael Lovato en route to a Pans gold medal.

Roberto “Tussa” Alencar is always a pleasure to watch.  You never know what is going to happen when he’s fighting.  Anyone remember the flying triangle against Marcelo Louzado at the No gi worlds a few years back?

Lastly we get the return of Xande Ribeiro!  Absent from last year’s edition Xande will be raring to go.  He has done well so far this year at the Abu Dhabi events and did have a win against Galvao.  The match everyone is waiting for this weekend is Xande vs. Rodolfo, who knows we may get the opportunity to see it twice!

People to watch:  Alexandre Ceconi of Ceconi Team – he is a perennial medalist but this is a stacked field; still he will be in the mix for bronze, Roberto Godoi of Godoi Jiu Jitsu – infamously known for his brutal black belt tests, this legend of the art will be mixing it up with the kids; it will be interesting to see how he fares, Neiman Gracie of Gracie Barra – I thought he would have entered under Gracie Elite since he is primarily Renzo’s student, this is his first major tournament at black belt.

 

Super Heavy

This is one of my favorite divisions to watch, not only are these guys big but they move like lightweights.  No one exemplifies this more than Antonio “Cara De Sapato” Barbosa, he will berimbolo his way to the finals.  I’ve been following Antonio for a couple years, he caught my eye as a brown belt at the 2010 worlds but his breakthrough has really been in 2012.  So far this year he has medaled at weight and absolute in the pans and did very well at the Abu Dhabi Pros – losing a decision to Andre Galvao.   I have got to imagine that this division will have a rematch of the Pans finals between Antonio and Bernardo Farias.  Bernardo will look to half guard sweep and smash pass his way to weight and absolute gold.  In the Super Heavy division he should be the favorite to do so.

Standing in the way of a Bernardo/Antonio final will be Joao Assis and Leo Nogueira.  Joao is a foot lock master who has yet to win gold at the black belt worlds.  He lost last year to Leo Nogueira in the semifinals and will look to get even.  Leo is Bernardo’s training partner in Sao Paulo.  He would like nothing better than to close out the division with him, but getting there will be tough.

People to watch: Fernando di Pierro of Alliance – “Soluco” is an Alliance legend that is responsible for the tutelage of the Itturalde brothers; I love seeing these guys go into the adult divisions, Gustavo Pires of Gracie Barra, James Puopolo of Ribeiro Jiu Jitsu – this Rafael Lovato student is a tough draw for any competitor, Guybson Sa of SAS Team.

 

Ultra Heavy

I am not sure if I can call this pick a real long shot, but I think the Alexander Trans could win this division.  Yes he is a fresh black belt, but his results at brown belt were incredible – I don’t think he ever lost.  He also has done well this year barely losing in the finals of the Pans to his teammate Buchecha.  He also recently won this division at the Brazilian Nationals, systematically beating Antonio Peinado in the process.  I just think Trans has a very good competition game.  He won’t wow you and it can be boring – half guard sweep to pressure pass; similar strategy to Bernardo Faria, but in a 10 minute sport jiu jitsu match it is tough to beat him.

Alexander’s teammate at Checkmat Marcus “Buchecha” Almeida is probably the easy favorite here.  He is incredibly talented and I really think that he may have the best shot at beating Rodolfo – he is bigger, very athletic and gifted at foot locks.  Like the Pans, it could be another Checkmat final.

The Alliance duo will surely look to stop this.  Antonio Peinado and Leo Leite are 2 burly men with great jiu jitsu.  According to the grapevine, many Alliance stars say that in training no one can touch Peinado, in fact it is said he taps out mundials champions multiple times per roll.  It just seems he can’t get it figured out during competition.  Leo Leite is a judo extraordinaire; he has represented Brazil at numerous World Judo competitions.  His jiu jitsu isn’t so bad either as he has medaled at numerous black belt worlds over the past 10 years.

Marcio “Pe De Pano” Cruz is once again in this division.  He is one of the few multi-time black belt absolute winners. 

Roberto “Cyborg” Abreu is here as well.  He really is a great fighter to watch.  One of the most exciting matches in worlds history has be the Cyborg vs. Braga Neto match where Cyborg won in the last few seconds with a triangle, I think he was down on points significantly with Braga Neto having his back with just a few minutes to go.

People to watch:  Stephen “Pesadelo” Hall of Alliance, Rodrigo “Comprido” Medeiros of Brasa, Michael Westbrook of Nova Uniao, Mick Wilson of Peter de Been – tough tough guy!  This fire fighter is rugged and will give anyone a run for their money

 

Women’s Black Belt

Now that the black and brown belts are separated in the women’s division, the amount of competitors will be on the smaller side. But with the exception of Hanette Stack (out due to injury) most of the favorites are here.

Light Feather

Leticia Ribeiro will be the heavy favorite.  She is one of the most decorated women competitors in history and I believe she competed in the first ever mundials for women, 1999 I think? Her main competition should Sofia Amarante of The Avengers. This Cyborg student should give Leticia a fight but in the end this division belongs to her.

 

Feather

This should be a rematch of the Abu Dhabi Pro tournament a couple months ago where we saw Michelle Nicollini submit Kyra Gracie with a toe hold. Can Michelle do it again? She has been very sharp as of late, I think her submission of Kyra only took 2minutes – though in Kyra’s defense her foot was heavily bandaged and hurt. Kyra has been training with the Atos guys down in San Diego; rumor was she was going to compete for them. But she’s back with Gracie Elite and got to do the Atos training camp with the Mendes Bros, Tracey Gooddell and Bruna Ribeiro. This should be an interesting side story as Kyra and Bruna could face each other in this division.

 

Light

Only 4 entries here and the favorite will be Bea Mesquita. She has been tearing the bjj scene since she was a blue belt. The first time I heard of her was during that TV show Fight Quest. They went to Brazil to highlight Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and one of the show’s host got chocked out by Bea. She’s still tapping people out left and right!

 

Middle

Valerie Worthington is now Alliance? I did not know that! This should be a good thing for her as she won’t have to face Luanna Alzuguir till the final. This is Luanna’s division to lose.

 

Middle Heavy

I really want to say Penny Thomas here but I am not convinced. Penny doesn’t seem to be as sharp as she was a few years ago. There was a time when I thought she would eventually beat Gabi Garcia in the absolute. I hope she finds back her form and comes here at her best. Talita Nogueira should be the favorite as she beat Penny in the 2011 finals

 

Heavy

Gabi Garcia is a character in one of my fondest jiu jitsu memories. It was 2007 and it was the first worlds in the USA. There was a lull during the black belt fights and the purple belt women’s open was going on. Gabi was facing the diminutive Ana Carolina Vidal of Gracie Humaita. All I can remember was the image of Gabi flying through the air as Ana hit a beautiful hip throw. The crowd went crazy! The only other time I felt that energy from the crowd was when Kron got submitted by Sergio Moraes. But in Gabi’s defense she has come long way since her days of fighting for the Macaco Gold team. She may not be the most technical fighter but she and Fabio Gurgel are doing something right, the results are proof of it.

2012 Pan IBJJF Jiu-Jitsu Championship

The Pan Ams Are Here!

It's the most wonderful time of the year!  Southern California is buzzing with excitement as competitors from around the world make their way to Irvine to participate in the Pan Jiu Jitsu Championship (aka "The Panz").  It's difficult to walk around West Los Angeles without tripping over a current or former Brazilian Jiu Jitsu legand.  Just last night, our academy hosted Pe De Pano, who further honored KingOfCrazy by repeatedly and effortlessly tapping him, and popping a blue belts arm a couple of times.  (It takes some of us longer than others to learn to tap loudly and unambigously, particularly when sparring with a very large Brazilian.)

Brown Belts

Before we go onto the black belts, I wanted to bring up an intriguing brown belt fight.  In the first round, Jordon Schultz from Lloyd Irvin will face off against Francisco “Sinistro” Itturalde of Alliance.  There has been a lot of attention on Jordon this year due to his departure from Alliance.  I am not sure how extensively they trained together as, up until recently, Sinsitro was based in Ecuador – he (and his incredibly badass nickname) now teaches in Miami. 

Though exciting to see a fight with such a back story, I for one wish this was saved for the finals.  Schultz and Itturalde are clear favorites in their division, but since the IBJJF uses a random name generator to do the match ups in the lower belts, they are facing each other in the first round.   Recall the 2010 first round brown belt match up between Ary Farias and Michel Langhi, also two heavy favorites.  A less obvious example is this year's first round match up in the Ultra Heavy Division between Orlando Sanchez of Gracie Barra and Willie Leonard of Lloyd Irvin.  This could easiliy be a division final as well as the final of the Brown Belt absolute – which now can’t happen as only medalists from the divisions can enter the absolute.  This would be like Van Damme facing Bolo Yeung in the first round of the Kumite, which is so rediculous I doubt the screenwriter of Bloodsport even considered it.

It takes a lot of time and effort to seed brackets manually (I have great respect for the IBJJF officials and head coaches of the various teams) but the brown belts are the stars of next year.  I think it would good for the sport, the fans and the teams to have the head coaches get together and take a shot at manually seeding the brown belts so that matches up like this don’t happen till the later rounds. 

Black Belts

Galo/Naniko

Will Caio Terra compete, or will he not?  Some say he has an injury, but a recent picture posted by Budo Jake shows them training in So Cal together.  There have been other rumors that he is preparing for a late run as the Republican presidential candidate, which would seem unlikely as the United States requires presidents to be born here (ha, ha).  But if Caio is in, he has to be the favorite, especially with his perennial adversary Bruno Malfacine moving up a weight class due to his newfound love for Haagen Daz peanut butter and chocolate ice cream.   On the other side of the bracket, the semifinals will likely see a rematch from last year’s finals between Felipe Costa and Rafael “Barata” Freitas. 

If Caio is out, look for a final combination of Fabio “Monstrinho” Passos from Alliance vs. the winner of the Costa/Freitas fight.

Pluma

Gui Mendes is the current World Champion of this category and, based on his performance at the recent Abu Dhabi Trials, appears to be in top form.  I would be hard pressed to predict an upset before the finals.  The possibility comes in the form of Samir Chantre; if they were to meet it would occur in the semifinals. 

The second half of the bracket appears to be the heaviest.  We have possible finalists in Bruno Malfacine, Laercio Fernandes, and Pablo Silva.  Bruno is fighting up a weight class; he is the current world champion at galo.  A couple weeks ago he competed at the New York Abu Dhabi trials.  The weight classes there are a little different but Bruno was clearly undersized but still won the tournament.  Bruno could pose a threat to Gui but before doing so would have to get past some very tough opponents.

Laercio Fernandes is an absolute talent that seems to go a little under the radar.  He has medaled at previous mundials and won some very large domestic tournaments.  Though representing Lotus Club, he has been training pretty extensively with Cobrinha.  He recently lost to Gui at the San Diego Abu Dhabi trials and I am sure he is looking to get a rematch

Pena

Justin Rader just can’t catch a break!  In his second fight he’ll have to square off against the king of the division in Rafa Mendes.  These two have been competing against each other since the lower belts and it appears Justin hasn’t had much luck figuring out Rafa’s game.  Here at pullingtheline.com, we suggest that Justin doses Rafa's water bottle, or at least do something a little more proactive this time around.

Rafa’s side of the bracket sets up a great semi final when he squares off against Mario Reis.  I think this is Mario’s first major tournament since leaving Gracie Barra for Alliance.  He has been preparing for this tournament with Rafa’s nemesis Cobrinha.

Speaking of Cobrinha, I have to say I was a little surprised to hear he was competing.  He has been extremely busy with growing his new school and I am not sure how much he has been training for a tournament of this magnitude.  That being said, he is still one of the best, as his seeding shows.  On his way to a rematch with Rafa he’ll have to beat a svelte Michael Fowler (newly minted Atos member), Wellington “Megaton” Dias, or Renan Borges (keep an out for this guy; he has been extremely impressive as of late).

Leve

No Michael Langhi this year but Lucas Lepri, the 2nd half of Alliance’s dynamic duo will be there.  Looking at Lucas’s side of the bracket it doesn’t appear he would have too much trouble making it to the semifinals where he would meet Claudio Mattos from Gracie Barra.

The 2nd half of this weight bracket looks to be the tougher side with names such as Zak Maxwell, Bruno Amorim, Leandro Lo, and Phillipe “Furao” Dela Monica. 

Zak Maxwell is coming off a victory over teammate and jiu jitsu royalty, Kron Gracie.  If Zak can continue this momentum he has a strong shot at making the finals and giving Lucas Lepri a run for his money.

Leandro Lo is probably the favorite of this side of the bracket.  Leandro beat Michael Langhi at last year’s Abu Dhabi World Pro; this was Michael’s first defeat in many years.

Medio

This is a very compelling bracket as there are several names that have equal shots at wining this tournament.

Side 1 of the bracket has Victor Estima, Marcos De Souza, Kron Gracie and Murilo Santana.

Victor finally got away from his brothers shadow last year by winning the No Gi Mundials.  He took the tournament by storm with what people have dubbed as the “Estima Foot lock.” 

Marcos Souza is may appear as an unknown to the casual observer.  But trust me when I say that he has a very good chance of winning this division.  Marcos usually fights up a weight class and should be bigger and stronger than most of his opponents.  He has also been getting ready with Atos down in San Diego for this tournament.  Be sure that the Bull Terrier Kimonos owner will be in top form to make a run for the gold.

Fighting up a weight class, Kron Gracie looks to forget about his disappointing loss at the San Diego Abu Dhabi trials.  Kron has had a lot of success that last few years fighting in the light division, not sure why he has decided to move up.

I feel strange calling Murilo Santana a dark horse but he just doesn’t seem to get the recognition he deserves.  This Barbosa Jiu Jitsu team member is a tough draw for anybody.  I would not be surprised if he made it to the finals from this bracket.

Side 2 of the bracket has who I believe is the favorite in the division in Claudio Calasans.  If there is someone who has a great all around game it is him.  He has a judo black belt and an amazing guard to go along with it.  Standing in his way in this bracket will be Clark Gracie, Abmar Barbosa, and Otavio Sousa.  Luckily for Claudio, Clark faces Abmar in round 1 and the winner gets Otavio in their 2nd fight. 

Medio Pesado

The big news here is that Andre Galvao pulled out of the tournament.  He is suffering from an injury and wants to be ready for the Abu Dhabi Pro’s in April.  Aside from Galvao, it looks like that Rafael Lovato  is out as well, he had originally signed up for this division but has moved back up to Pesado.  This narrows the favorites down a little more for us.

A big question everyone is asking, is can Romulo Barral regain his pre knee surgery form?  From 2007 to 2010, it can be said that Romulo was only second to Roger Gracie.  But ever since the knee injury he suffered to Tarsis Humphries in 2010, Romulo appears to be out of sync.  At times he has showed flashes of his old self, but in others he seems to fall short – for instance his first round loss at the 2011’s ADCC.  I for one am a huge Barral fan.  He has been a huge influence in my game and I really hope he can come back strong and get back the glory.

Barral’s teammate Kayron Gracie looks to close out the division with Romulo.  Kayron won the Pan Am in 2010 but since then has saddled by injuries.

Looking to stand in the way of the  Gracie Barra duo are Oliver Geddes (this Roger Gracie student has a big submission win over Marcos Souza at this year’s Euros), newly minted GF team black belt Alberto Ramos, and Erik “AnderSLAM” Anderson. 

We also want to give a shout out to Lucas Pires of Werdum Combat team.  He is a friend of Pullingtheline and this is his first competition back after a couple year hiatus.

Pesado

Is it a coincidence that when Rodolfo decided not to sign up for the Pans that this bracket filled up?

Yuri Simoes makes his debut at black belt.  Yuri has had great success at the lower belts and I think he can continue with his winning ways.  But to get to the finals he’ll have to get past Gustavo Pires, Leo Itturalde, and Rafael Lovato – not an easy task!

Lovato had been signed up for the Medio Pesado division but has now moved back to his usual weight class.  He has to be the immediate favorite in this group.

The surprise in this division is that Lucas Leite is in it.  Usually Lucas fights at Medio but has decided to move up to pesado.  This isn’t the first he has done such a move, Lucas won the No Gi Mundials in this division.

A match up I look forward to would be between Renan Vital (assuming he wins his first match) and Roberto “Tussa” Alencar.  Both have similar aggressive styles of Judo influenced Jiu Jitsu.  Should this match happen it will be a very entertaining one.  I think that the winner of this fight will meet Lovato in the finals of the division.

Super Pesado

I don’t know if this is a hoax or not but it looks like JT Torres will be competing here.  Is JT is summoning his inner Terere?  JT has been sick all week and had even had a brief spell in the hospital.  Last I heard he is competing, and since the brackets are final, I guess JT is competing with the heavies! 

Antonio “Cara De Sepato” Carlos has been someone I’ve been watching since the lower belts.  I remember in watching him 2010 when the hoopla was all about his teammate Buchecha , and I was  very impressed.  I still believe what I thought then, Antonio has the tools to be a big star in this sport just like Buchecha. 

Bernardo Farias seems to have bulked up this year moving up a weight class.  Should he make the finals he is going to have killer of a semi against Joao Assis.  Look for a Farias, Assis, and Carlos combination in the finals of this category.

Pesadissimo

Ahhhhh.  I love Pesadissimo because the competitor's bellies are as big as their hearts (and in some cases, much much bigger).  Sometimes, I daydream about letting myself go and competing at Pesadissimo, but I realize that would be a slippary slope to morbid obesity and eventually a talk show host cutting a hole in my wall and driving me to the hospital on the back of a truck to rescue me from myself.  

But this division is a great example of how much Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has evolved.  For the most part, gone are the days where two giants stomp around in a ten-minute grip fight.  The favorites in this division are just as good on top as they are on their backs with several of them possessing dynamic guards that would be at home in the Galo division!  One such, and probably the division’s favorite, is Marcus “Buchecha” Almeida.  He has a guard that would give any one fits and foot locks that would make Palhares proud.  If all goes to plan, Buchecha should meet his Danish teammate, Alexander Trans, in the finals.  Alexander is brand new black belt but was probably one of the most successful competitors in 2011.  He doubled up (gold in weight and absolute) at essentially every tournament last year except for the Brasilieors where he decided to sit out the open.  The only person to beat him in 2011 was Fabricio Werdum at the London ADCC’s.  Though these two are teammates I am not sure to what extent they have trained together.  I am hoping they don’t close out the category and fight the final.

2012 European Open Jiu-Jitsu Championship

2012 European Open Jiu-Jitsu Championship

 

 

 

This week we have the first major IBJJF tournament of 2012.  It is also the first tournament featuring the new IBJJF rules.  Sorry guys, can’t wear thongs anymore, its boxers or briefs only!

Before we get started with our analysis, we’d like to wish our friend Guillame Huni the best of luck at the tournament.  Guillame has the infamy of introducing me to Brazilian jiu jitsu, though I did not know it at the time.  It was during high school  basketball practice when I was a lowly sophomore and he was a bad a$$ senior.  Guillame had gotten a hold of “Grappling” Magazine and decided to try a move on me.   Needless to say I had no idea what he was doing and all I could think was “This is the closest I have ever been to another man!”  Fast forward 12 years and today I realize he was applying a mounted arm triangle on me, and can now appreciate the warmth of another man.

Time to drink some more and repress my first homo erotic memory….

Onto the Jiu jitsu:

(Disclaimer, it’s January 22nd and I think this is the final list)

Galo:

I have no idea who any of these guys are!  None of the top guys are competing at this tournament so this is a tossup!

Pluma:

Much like Galo, this is another very small division with only 7 competitors.  Again not many of the division’s stars are in Europe for the competition.  Look to see Carlos “Esquisito” Hollanda take this division.  He’s had very good success in the No Gi division placing at major tournament, but falls short during the Gi events.  He wins and hopefully can bring that momentum to Pans in March.

Pena:

Hands down favorite here is Bruno Frazzatto.  If it weren’t for Cobrinha, this man would have had several world titles to his name.  Wellington “Megaton” Dias, the perennial competitor, is also in this division.  Should he be on the other side of the bracket, look for a Frazzato vs. Megaton final.  Denilson Pimenta who spent most of last year competing in the Masters divisions is back in the adult group.  If he is on Megaton’s side of the bracket, it could make for a very good semifinal.

Leve:

Due to his move from NYC to Atlanta, Lucas Lepri was not able to make this tournament.  Even without him, Alliance’s other ace in this division, Michael Langhi, should take gold.  Ed Ramos of Atos and Rodrigo Simoes of Gracie Barra should do well.  Roberto Satoshi makes his debut as a black belt at IBJJF tournament.  He is a very exciting competitor to watch.

The main adversary for Langhi will be JT Torres.  JT is at the cusp of taking the world by storm.  He has fallen in the semifinals of major events several times.  Talent wise he is right there with Langhi and Lepri, it all just depends on the day.  I for one would love to see JT win everything this year.  Regardless he is a young kid with a very bright future.

Medio:

Clark Gracie has really come into his own since becoming a black belt.  He did very well at last year’s worlds in coming third in this division.  Victor Estima is another name to watch.  Since some big wins at ADCC and winning the No Gi Mundials, the younger Estima appears to be emerging from his brother’s shadow.  Hopefully he continues his winning ways. 

Otavio Sousa drops down a weight division for this tournament.  I for one cannot even imagine Otavio being this light.  Those who have seen him in person can attest to his size.  But prior to becoming a black belt this was his main division.

The sleeper here is James Harbison of Lloyd Irvin.  James won the Grand Slam (Gold at Euro, Pan, Brazilian Nationals, and Mundials) last year at brown belt.  During his first major black belt tournament at last year’s No Gi Worlds he secured a win over Cobrinha en-route to a bronze in the Absolute Division.

Meio Pesado:

What I like about the list of this division is that it contains amazing grapplers that mainstream jiu jitsu fans never have really heard of.  Gustavo Junqueira, Vitor “Gigante” Toledo, Marcos de Souza, and Nivaldo de Oliveira Lima all could easily take this division.

Gustavo, though young, has been around for awhile and people may recognize him as one of the Koral models.  He has been languishing on Alliance B team due to skilled teammates such as Sergio Moraes, and Tarsis Humphreys.  But Gustavo had a good win over Otavio Sousa in last year’s worlds and should be looking to continue that momentum.

Marcos de Souza is a pretty big name in the Asian BJJ season.  Aside from being a great competitor he is also co-owner of gi brand “Bull Terrier.”  Regardless of who he faces, Marcos is always a tough fight.  He has a very balanced game with incredibly tight passing.

Nivaldo de Oliveira Lima is my favorite here.  He doesn’t compete too often in the USA but has many wins in Brazil.  If he had more opportunities to fight outside of Brazil, I think this would be a name to include up there with the likes of Galvao, Estima, and Moraes.

Pesado:

Rodolfo, Rodolfo, Rodolfo!  That is all you need to know about this division!  This many practically won everything last year.  I think the only interesting matchup left for him would be against another one name enigma in Roger.  Rodolfo is already on form this year winning every fight by submission at last week’s Abu Dhabi Trials in Rio.

I’ve been a big fan of Roberto “Tussa” Alencar but he just seems to fall short year after year.  Aside from Tussa another contender for “silver” is Rafael Lovato. 

Super Pesado:

Small bracket but full of quality and size as 3 of the 4 competitors are considered among the best in the world.

Perennial Silver medalist to Rodolfo Vieira’s gold’s is Bernardo Faria.  Interesting that he decided to move up a division – is Rodolfo the new boogey man?  We use to see a whole boat load of competitors switching divisions in order to avoid Roger Gracie.

Bernardo should meet either his teammate Leo Nogueira or Lucio Lagarto in the final.  Leo is coming off a gold medal at the 2011 mundials.  Personally I would like to see Leo lose to Lagarto as this would ensure that a final would take place.  Lagarto is an old Gracie Barra champion and is one of the toughest people out there, not many can say they submitted cancer.

Pesadissimo:

It’s the big boys!  I am not too familiar with the names here except for one – Alexander Trans.  Alex was arguably the best competitor last year as his lone loss was to Fabricio Werdum at the ADCC Championships in London.  Aside from that he won everything he competed in and almost pulled a Grand slam at weight and absolute.  The lone blemish was that he did not win the Brazilian Nationals Absolute as he did not enter that bracket.  But these accomplishments were all done at Brown Belt.  This will be his first tournament at Black.  Though inexperienced at this belt he does have the game to win.

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