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Campeonato Mundial de Jiu-Jitsu Sem Kimono (No Gi Mundials)

Campeonato Mundial de Jiu-Jitsu Sem Kimono

Here we go again!  On Sunday, November 7th, stars of the BJJ world will descend on the Long Beach pyramid, sans Kimonos, for the 4th installment of the IBJJF No Gi Mundials.  Though not as large as its cloth-wearing brother, this sibling still offers a lot of excitement.

(Disclaimer:  My predictions are based off of the athletes list as of Friday morning 9:32 AM.  Brackets are not yet out, but as always, Monstro will be handicapping the black belts and providing insight, and KingofCrazy will be fixing grammar and making juvenile jokes.)

Black Adult Masculino Galo (Rooserweight - 126.5 lbs)

There are two, virtually anonymous competitors in this division:  Brandon Mullins from Gracie Barra and Joseph Capizzi representing Renzo Gracie.  The only thing I know about either of these guys is that Mullins placed third in the 2009 Mundials.  After flipping a coin, I can say with 50% certainty that the winner will be Brandon Mullins.

Black Adult Masculino Pluma (Light Featherweight - 141 lbs)

My two favorites in this division, Caio Terra and Samir Chantre, both represent team Gracie Fighter.  If the brackets work out, these two should meet in the finals.  The only competitor I can see upsetting a Gracie Fighter close out is Rafael Freitas of Gracie Barra.  To my knowledge, I do not think Freitas has ever beaten Caio Terra in competition, at least not at the black belt level, so if he ends up on Chantre's side of the brackets, this division could get interesting.

(Also, Milton Bastos is a potential dark horse who recently received his black belt.)

Black Adult Masculino Pena (Featherweight - 154 lbs)

Last year’s champion, Baret Yoshida, will be back to defend his title.  Otherwise, the front runners will be Carlos “Esquisito” Hollanda and Renan Borges.  Carlos got a huge win earlier in the year against Caio Terra at the Gi Pan Ams, but his game has been slipping ever since, so let’s hope he performs up to his potential.

Justin Rader, another intriguing competitor to watch, is Rafael Lovato’s first black belt.  Rader was promoted a couple of months ago, and I believe this is his first tournament at black belt.  The no gi game seems to suit his style better based on his wrestling background that began at the ripe old age of 4 years old (T.O.D.N.W.)

Black Adult Masculino Leve (Lightweight 167.5 lbs)

I predict a repeat of last year’s finals between Lucas Lepri and JT Torres.  Last year, Lucas won, but Torres definately has a shot at winning.  Since JT’s arrival at black belt, these two have been doing battle like Ryu vs. Blanka.  Lucas won the first few matches, however, JT was able to submit Lucas with a back choke at this year's nationals, and JT is rumored to have learned the fireball throw technique.

Milton Vieira, Augusto Mendes, and Philippe Della Monica could cause some problems, but if JT and Lucas are at the top of their games on Sunday, we should see another instant YouTube classic.

Black Adult Masculino Medio (Middleweight - 181 lbs)

As usual, Medio division is the most competitive and populated bracket.   Favorites include:  Gilbert “Durinho” Burns”, Tiago Alves, Lucas Leite (returning champion), Victor Estima, Fabricio Camoes, and of course, Bill “The Grill” Cooper.

Any one them could win the gold as there is no clear cut favorite.  Durinho is coming fresh from winning the Deep 6 grappling competition in Japan.  Last week, Tiago Alves won the Brazilian No Gi Nationals.  Fabricio Camoes has been concentrating on MMA for the past few years so you know he has been training a lot of No Gi.  Lucas Leite proved last year that he is capable of winning in this stacked division while Victor Estima surprised a lot of people.  Not much has been heard from this Estima brother in awhile.  If memory serves me correctly, his last major event was the 2009 Gi Mundials.  Estima has had a lot of success in the kimono and we shall see if can translate that into no gi. 

And then there's Wild Bill Cooper (not his official nickname), who recently won a super fight vs grappling legend Nino "Elvis” Schembri.  Two days prior, he won an MMA fight via rear naked choke.  Two days before that, he probably did something badass like trading roundhouse kicks with Chuck Norris.  This king-among-men is always putting it on the line, and I think could win the division this year.  Needless to say, I will not be in line at the churrasco stand when Wild Bill takes the mat.

Black Adult Masculino Meio-Pesado (Medium Heavy 194.5 lbs)

Whil there are several strong contenders in this division, I think the favorite has to be Pablo Popovitch.  If he wins both his division and the absolute, I think that it would be safe to say Pablo is the most successful current No gi competitor living in the world today.  His fights aren’t always exciting, but he does what it takes to win.  After finally beating Marcelo Garcia at last year’s ADCC, he has been on a heck of a wins streak, beating Lucas Lepri in a super fight along the way.

Other names to keep an eye on:  Marcello Salazar & Kleber Olieveira (winner of the Brazilian No Gi last week).

Black Adult Masculino Pesado (Heavyweight 207.5 lbs)

Three names stick out to me in this division.  First, we have two Gracie Barra heavyweights with Flavio Almeida and Roberto “Tussa” Alencar.  They both have more than enough talent to win this outright.  This means that one of them will have to meet Rafael Lovato in an earlier round.  Rafael and Flavio fought twice at the Las Vegas Open/American No Gi Nationals two months ago, with Flavio winning both times.  I would like to see Lovato on Tussa’s side of the bracket with a possible final of Almeida vs Lovato.

Black Adult Masculino Super-Pesado (Super Heavyweight 221 lbs)

The names that stand out to me in this bracket are Joao Assis (above), Marcus “Bochecha” Oliviera, and Bruno Bastos.

Joao and Bocheca are both rising stars from Checkmat.  Joao is coming off a huge win last weekend over grappling great Saulo Ribeiro.  He not only beat Saulo this year, but also beat Saulo’s younger brother Xande at the final of the “World’s Best Grapplers Tournament” held earlier this year.  The word on the street is that after taking the gold at worlds, Joao plans on taking on Saulo's sister, and if necessary, mother.

Bochecha is a very fresh black belt.  He received his belt from Rodrigo Cavaca at this year’s Gi Mundials after steamrolling the competition at both weight and absolute.  As a black belt, Bochecha has not lost, and even beat Daniel Moraes a month ago.

I am going to go with either one of these guys to win the division.  Bruno Bastos will be the thorn in one of these guy’s brackets.  Bruno likes to play a half guard game where he sweeps and stalls on top.  This is a great competition strategy and if he can implement his game, then he definitely has a strong chance of winning.

Black Adult Masculino Pesadissimo (Ultra Heavyweight - No Weight Limit)

There are only two competitors in this bracket making the match up a no brainer even for an IBJJF referee.  Leo Santos,  representing Ribiero Jiu Jitsu, and Roberto "Cyborg” Abreu of The Avengers.

The clear favorite is Cyborg.  The Tornado Guard innovator has been on a tear this year.  In my view, he had one of the best matches at this year’s Gi Mundials, when after being down significantly on points, he caught Braga Neto with a triangle in the waning moments of the match.  Leo Santos is a physical specimen (Monstro - what exactly do you mean by this?  - KingofCrazy) and a competitor, but I just don’t see him beating Cyborg.

Last but not least…

The four competitors we will be watching with the most interest on Sunday will be Jeremy "Geaga (Black Senior 1 Pena), Captain Caveman (Black Master Pena), Florentino “Nanico” Morales (Blue Midget Division), and Jason “La Bestia” Parry (Brown Super Pesado).  These teammates of ours have put in a lot of time and hard work preparing for this tournament, and we wish them the best of luck. 

Food for thought…

At the 2009 No Gi Worlds, we were treated with an influx of non BJJ martial artists.  These competitors were unranked in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, the most noteworthy example was mixed martial artist Josh Barnett (Highlight comes at 2:50), who actually won the Pesadissimo Black Belt bracket last year, essentially foot locking everyone in his path.  

Afterwards, the IBJJF (International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation) implemented a black belt registration program requiring black belts competing in IBJJF tournament to be officially certified.  They charged money for the honor which brought them one step closer to:

1)  Killing the golden goose, thereby opening the doors for a rival BJJ organization

2)  Turning BJJ into another worthless martial art

Josh is an amazing grappler, and finally found a sport that doesn't test for steriods, but has no belt in BJJ, and I don't think he has any interest in getting one.  Is it a coincidence that the IBJJF started mandating black belt certifications after last year’s tournament?  Will this new process be known as the “Josh Barnett Rule"?  Is the IBJJF interested in having the best grapplers compete, or are they too busy lighting cigars with R$100 bills and chuckling manically? 

IBJJF's 2010 American National Tournament - Monstro's Picks

Monstro has returned!  I must apologize for my absence as my life outside of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has gotten in the way.  But enough about me and my "dark place"...

This weekend brings us the IBJJF’s 2010 American National Gi Tournament!  As always, Monstro will be watching from the stands as, once again, Southern California is invaded with worlds class Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.  Then again, every day out here is filled with top notch BJJ as So Cal can more accurately be described as “Little Rio.”

What follows is my analysis based on the competitor list from the IBJJF website as of 9:17 PM September 23rd, 2010, T-1.5 days 'till the fun starts.  (As a side note to IBJJF.org - Seriously, bros, you need to revamp your web site!  Are you trying to confuse and thwart would-be competitors?)

Brown Belt:

Medio

I can't wait for this division!  My favorite to win, Tim Peterson (see above), placed 3rd this year at Pan Am's losing only to the eventual winner, Zak Maxwell, who incidentally is making his debut at black belt.  Aside from Tim, another contender will be Sean Roberts.  Sean is a brand new Ralph Gracie Brown belt, but has had a meteoric rise in the BJJ world.  I believe he has been only training for 3 – 4 years in which time he has medaled at essentially every event, and came in 3rd in his division at this year’s World Championships.

Medio Pesado

I have Erik Anderson winning as he has been on a roll as of late, winning two medals at this year’s World’s, and beating Ian McPherson, one of the best brown belts, during the semi’s.

Super Pesado

James Puopolo will win as this Rafael Lovato prodigy has time and again proven to be a game competitor.

Pesadissimo

Jarrod Bunch should be the favorite here, and possible contender to win the absolute.  Yes, this is the same Jarrod Bunch who played fullback for Michigan, and eventually for the NY Giants, and yes he is over 40 years old!

Black Belt:

Pluma:

Caio Terra!  Caio Terra!  Caio Terra!  I am huge fan of his game.   Caio is extremely dynamic, always moving, and ALWAYS looking for the submission.  I am sure that Caio is still disappointed about this year’s Mundial Finals where he lost a very controversial match to Bruno Malfacine.  Finals prediction is Caio vs. Laercio Fernandes – who is coming off a 3rd place finish at this year’s World’s.

Pena:

We at Pullingtheline.com will be watching this division intently.  A good friend, and former teacher, Gustavo Carpio will be competing.  Gustavo was promoted to black belt at the beginning of the year, and has already thrown himself to the wolves with fights against Cobrinha at the Pan’s and Rafa Mendes at the World’s.   This is going to be a stacked division as there are several fighters with equal chances of winning this group.  There is the eternal competitor in Wellington “Megaton” Dias who competes at every single tournament in the Adult division, in spite of the fact that he is in his Mid 40’s!  Johnny Ramirez, Samir Chantre, and Baret Yoshida could win this one as well.  While there are only six fighters in this division, every match is going to be a championship-caliber fight.

Leve

The three names I will be watching are Zak Maxwell, Phillipe “Furao” Della Monica, and Jonatas Gurgel.  I'll wager several kilos of oreos (double-stuff) on anyone who feels that one of these three will not be standing on the top step with a faux gold, and very square object around his neck. 

Medio

There are only four competitors in this division, and each one has a shot at winning.  The teammates Clark Gracie and Ryan Beauregard are both newly minted black belts as of this year, and will be on opposite ends of the bracket.  They face some very tough competition in Marcelo “Lapela” Mafra and Rodrigo Texiera.  I remember Rodrigo from the U.S. Nationals two years ago when he pulled off the massive upset against beat Bill “The Grill” Cooper  (who, by the way, has a super fight with Nino Schembri in October.)  I have to think experience will win in this one out, and we'll see Lapela vs. Texeira in the final with Marcelo taking the win.

Medio Pesado

This is a first for Monstro here at Pullingtheline!  For once, I am only vaguely familiar with the competitors in this division.  Jared Nathanson is ALWAYS competing at the big events, but just as consistently seems to get unlucky draws.  My prediction is Bruno Antunes will win this division, based on him being from Gracie Florianopolis which is in Brazil and this is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competition, often with Brazilian judges who, while impeccable in fairness, radiate Brazilian energy at such high levels that Brazilian competitors always seem to do better with Brazilian judges.

Pesado

The lone competitor in this division is Carlos Gomez, who wins assuming he makes weight, cuts his finger and toe nails, wears a higenic gi, and does not kick his opponent's in the groin after the handshake.

Super Pesado

The Nova Uniao stalwart, Bruno Bastos, will take this one with his stellar half guard, and is my favorite to win the absolute if he competes.

Pesadissimo

Stephen Hall vs. Leo Santos, now this will be a very interesting matchup. “Pesadelo Triangulo” as Hall is known travels all over the world to compete - Stephen maybe one of the most active American competitors out there.  Leo Santos is just a beast of a man!  I think that the strength edge here is in his favor, very interested to see how this one goes.

Purple Belt:

Last, but not least, the single most compelling division of the entire U.S. Nationals is (of course) the Purple Master Medio Division.  This division is a no-brainer as Kingof Crazyshit aka “kingofcrazy” will best all comers by his sheer HOTNESS.

Thoughts and Rambles From the 2010 Brazilian Jiu Jitsu World Championships

Monstro is back from the Mundials!  He won his first match in the purple belt Pasado division by submission, and unfortunately broke his rib during the second.  Monstro being Monstro, he shrugged off medics, and finished the match losing on points to the guy who won 2010 Pan Ams both in his weight class, and absolutes.  I cleaned up his post-Mundials comments below.  He's a tough S.O.B., but apparently they didn't teach grammar on the rural Hawaiian island where he grew up.

- King

  • Roger Gracie became the first three-time absolute Mundial champion in addition to (of course) winning at weight!  This guy is unbeatable, and possibly the best ever.  I worry that he will pull a Michael Jordan, decide that BJJ is no longer a challange, and take up Tai Quan Do.

 

  • Speaking of Roger, Demente (who, incidentially has the coolest nick name in all of BJJ) put up an oustanding fight against Roger in the Super Pesado final.  He began with a sweep, ended up losing 13 – 2, but was the only competitor not be submitted by Roger in the tournament.  After the match, I saw him look to God and give a big "thank you!" fist pump which means a non-submission loss to Roger Gracie is the closest thing to a win we will ever see.

 

  • Gabrielle Garcia (above, right) is gigantic!  She receieved her black belt on the podium from Fabio Gurgel after winning brown/black heavyweight division.  She promptly ate the black belt and demanded another "this time, with hot sauce."

 

  • The fight of the tournament took place in the quarterfinals of the Purple Belt Absolute division.  Alec "Don't call me Baldwin" Balding – Middleweight from Alliance vs Willie Leonard – Ultra Heavy from Lloyd Irvin.  Alec caught the big man with an arm bar from omoplata transition, demonstrating amazing technique!  I should note that Willie received his purple belt only two weeks ago, however, he was also a D1 wrestler at Kent State, a sport providing a somewhat better base of grappling knowledge than, say, hurling.  That being said, Alec's talent is simply amazing.  I remember training with Alec at Alliance when I was a new blue belt in 2007.  His skills impressed me then, and blow me away now!  You heard it here, first, these two are going to be among the top American BJJ stars in in the next few years.

 

  • Thank you Cobrinha!  You have brought BJJ forward light years with your innovations!  Best of luck in your new pursuits!

 

  • The next up-and-coming BJJ team is the Gracie Elite Team, a combination of Rillion, Ryan, Cesar, Renzo, Ralph, and Gordo, all of whom are old school Gracie Barra war horses.  It will be interesting to hear what Carlinhos thoughts are on this, but whatever they are, they will be in Portuguese, and so I will not be able to understand them until they are translated.

  • Alliance is the best team in the world!  There, I said it.  They have won the Mundials three years in a row, and just missed out on winning all the major IBJJF titles this year.  Their lone blemish was losing the Brazilian Nationals to Checkmat a month ago.  I have a ton of respect for Alliance’s team unity.  Watching them compete during the Mundials, it was clear that they were a true team, and not just a collection of individuals.  At every single belt level, they consistantly brought the largest cheering section.

 

  • Kayron Gracie has a very bright future ahead of him.  As a newly minted black belt, he already has won Pan Ams and placed 3rd in the Mundials!

 

  • Marcelo Garcia is awesome!  In arguably the deepest division in the world’s, and possibly in the history of the worlds, Marcelo mowed through the field and beat Claudio Calasans in the finals of the middleweight division.  Nice work!

 

  • Gui Mendes' upset in the early rounds was a huge surprise!  Things didn’t start well for him.  He was caught in a very deep triangle, but broke free before the match ended with a tie in advantage points. His opponent was awarded the victory.

 

  • Lloyd Irvin, in spite of his relentless emails (you know what I'm talking about if you are on his mailing list), is doing something special on the east coast!  It seemed as that ALL of his athletes medaled in their divisions. 

  • I was inconsalable when I heard that Nino Schembri was injured, and could not compete in this year's Mundials.  Heal up, Nino, we want to see you back on the mat and competing!

 

  • Speaking of healing, best wishes to Rominho for a speedy recovery!

 

  • Xande losing in the absolute semis to Barral was a personal disappointment.  I was rooting for Barral, but the fan in me wanted to see a Roger vs Xande final.

 

  • Faria, in case anyone hasn't told you this, you have a sweet half guard game!

 

  • Cyborg’s last second win against Braga Neto was one of my favorite moments of the Mundials!  Cyborg was down 8 – 0, and caught Neto with a triangle with a little over a minute left!

 

  • The Cobrinha vs Mendes match went as expected.  It was another 50/50 snoozer that got exciting with 2 minutes left when Cobrinha went for a toe hold which was returned by Mendes.  Is there a training regimin for double jointedness?  Did they both repeatedly break their ankles leading up to this competition to be able to withstand their toes touching their shins?  How didn't either one of them tap?  Personally, I think the 50/50 is a legit part of the new BJJ game, but something has to be done about its stalling tactics.  I don’t make the rules, but I think heel hooks should be reintroduced at the black belt level.  Although an admittedly innovative guard, it does detract from the overall jiu jitsu game. 

 

  • Xande's loss to Faria in the Pesado finals was surprising.  It was the old Pesado King (Xande) vs the New Pesado King (Faria).  Faria has been performing oustanding since recieving his black belt last year, adding the Mundials title to his Brasileros and Pan Medals.  Interestingly, Xande's loss meant that he did not break Fabio Gurgel’s record for most Pesado gold medals.

 

 

  • Per tradition, there were copious amounts of hot guys (and girls) walking around.  If there isn't a BJJ dating web site out there, someone should start one up.

2010 Mundials Black Belt Division

It’s here!  In less than one week, the Mundials (aka the Worlds) will begin with their largest field of competitors to date!  This year, 1,989 people signed up for the most prestigious Brazilian Jiu Jitsu tournament in the world!  This is a staggering number.  To put it into perspective, the Pan Americans had roughly 3,000 competitors, however, the Pan Ams had four extra age divisions per belt!  With all age brackets rolled into one division, there are some huge brackets.  The lightweight blue belt division has 107 competitors signed up! 

Let’s take a look at the black belt favorites:

Galo (Rooster) - Under 126.5 lbs (57kg)

Bruno Malfacine

Favorites:  Bruno Malfacine, Felipe Costa, Pablo Teixeira, and Bernardo Pitel

Bruno Malfacine (shown above posing for a Got Milk? advertisement) has been on fire for the past two years upon leaving the Gama Filho Team and joining Alliance.  A strong competitor and 2007 Mundials champ prior to switching teams, he has been on an absolute tear as of late.  Since the 2009 Mundials, he has won the Europeans, Brazilian Nationals and the Pan Ams.  In the recent 2010 Nationals, he beat Felipe Costa 9 to 0.  Costa, always in the running, has recently returned from surgery, and should be in shape to finish on the podium this year.  He placed second to Malfacine in the 2010 Pan Ams and Nationals.

Prediction:  Malfacine vs Costa with Malfacine winning. 

Pluma (Light Feather) - Under 141 lbs (64kg)

Favorites:  Gui Mendes, Samual Braga, CaioTerra, Megaton, and Dai Yoshioka

We have a lot of seasoned veterans in this division, including the 2009 Mundials champion, Gui Mendes (shown above).  As a fan, I would love to see a rematch between Mendes and Braga.  Last year, the final was marred with controversy when Braga shoved Mendes after the match.  (To Braga's credit, Mendes was a bit over the top when he channeled an diminutive samari in his celebration.)  Megaton, a true warrior, drops down a division and will be fun to watch.  I believe he is the only competitor to have competed in every single Mundials.  Caio Terra is another favorite who could win after moving up a weight class.

Prediction:  This really depends on how the brackets play out, but I am hoping for a Mendes vs Braga final with Braga getting revenge, and Megaton winning the lifetime achievement award. 

Pena (Feather) - Under 154 lbs (70kg)

Favorites:  Rubens Cobrinha Charles, Rafael Mendes, Theodoro Canal, Mario Reis, and Marcelino Freitas

Don't get stuck in the Acaii line for the featherweights, because this is perhaps the most exciting division in the Mundials!   Obviously, the two favorites will be Cobrinha (shown above) and Rafael Mendes.  These two met recently at the Brazilian Nationals with Mendes winning 4 – 2, however, Cobrinha plans on retiring after this year, and so I would be hard pressed not to give him the nod.  Mario Reis is another consistent competitor, but has fallen short the last few years to either Cobrinha or Frazzato (who has since moved up a weight class).  Freitas, who took second in the 2010 Pan Ams, is another likely podium finisher.  I see him as a dark horse who could throw a wrench in Mendes and/or Cobrinha’s plans to take home the gold.  This division also features Ryan Hall, 2008 Mundials champion, Theodoro Canal, a bronze medalist in the 2010 Pan Ams, Gabriel Wilcox, Daisuke Nakamura, and Renan Borges.

Prediction:  Mendes vs Cobrinha in another another 50/50 guard battle.  The fan in me hopes Cobrinha retires with a Mundials win, but Mendes has won their last two matches. 

Leve (Light) - Under 167.5 lbs (76kg)

Favorites:  Lucas Lepri, Michael Langhi, Jonatas Gurgel, Bruno Frazatto, Gilbert Durinho Burns, JT Torres, and Celso Venicius

The Light and Middleweight divisons are perhaps the two most competitive brackets this year making it difficult to predict.  The favorites have to be the two juggernauts from Alliance, Lepri and Langhi.  Michael Langhi (shown above) has arguably the best open guard in the world.  Upon earning his black belt three years ago, he has been unstoppable, and will be the returning champ.  He has also recently closed out the Pan Ams with teammate Lucas Lepri.  Lepri has also been performing well, but suffered a setback to Torres in this year Brazilian Nationals.  Torres is one to watch, a black belt for only a little over a year, but this Lloyd Irvin soldier has been performing with verve submitting Lucas with his patented back choke.  The two Atos fighters, Frazzatto and Burns, are two other favorites.  Frazzatto will be moving up a weight class, and Burns is the runner up in last year’s Mundials.  Celsinho is also back after beating Lepri in the Worlds a couple of years back.

Prediction:  It will be a combination of Lepri, Langhi, Frazzato, Durinho, Torres, and a seriously confused Japense Jiu Jitsu martial artist whose katas prove surprising effective.  I am hoping the Alliance – Atos rivalry will live on, but Torres is em chamas as of late!

Medio (Middleweight) - Under 181 lbs (82.3kg)

Favorites:  Marcelo Garcia, Sergio Moraes, Claudio Calasans, Murilo Santana, Tiago Alves, Lucas Leite, Finfou, Abmar Barbosa, Kayron Gracie,  Kron Gracie, and Bill Cooper

This will clearly be the most watched division of this year's Mundials.  For starters, two Gracies, Kayron and Kron (shown above, with awesome retro mustache that has only gotten more bushy over the past year) will be competing.  Kayron is a newly minted black belt but has already beaten some strong competitors, including Sergio Moraes and Abmar Barbosa en route to his 2010 Pan Ams championship.  Garcia and Moraes will look to close out the division again this year, but unlike last year, there is more talent in this division than thongs on Ipanema beach in January.  Keep your eye on Leite, the 2009 Pan Ams champ, Bill “The Grill” Cooper, the Barbosa Duo of Tiago Alves and Murillo Santana, Abmar Barbosa, who beat Kron and Leite at the Pan Ams this year, Claudio Calasans, who killed it at the Abu Dhabi pro winning the Absolute Division, and Alan “Finfou” Nascimiento, who is really exciting to watch, think a combination of Jacare and Terere.

Prediction:  I have no clue. The sheer talent in the division could create a rift in the time-space contiuum in which they all end up on the Lost island en route to LAX.  Any of the aforementioned competitors could win the gold without it being considered an upset.

Meio – Pesado (Medium Heavyweight) - Under 194.5 lbs (88.3kg)

Favorites:  Romulo Barral, Tarsis Humphreys, Guto Campos, Eduardo Telles, and Otavio Sousa

Barral and Humphreys (shown above) are favored to repeat their finals from last year’s Mundials in which Barral came out on top.  Barral will terrorize the field with his ridiculous spider guard.  Humphreys, one of the most entertaining grapplers in the tourney, gives it his all every fight.  He is super aggressive and fun to watch.  Otavio Sousa has an amazing spider/oma plata game that I try to incorporate into my own style.  I would imagine the brackets will have Sousa on the Tarsis side, and we'll see if he can manage a win to advance.  The Turtle Master, Eduardo Telles should be in the mix as well, and Campos is another strong competitor who should at least make the quarter finals

Prediction:  Barral vs Humphreys with Barral repeating his win

Pesado (Heavyweight) - Under 207.5 lbs (94.3kg)

Favorites:  Alexandre "Xande" Ribeiro, Bernardo Feria, Alexandre Souza, Nino "Elvis" Schembri, Rafael Lovato, and Alexandre Ceconi

Faria (shown above) seems unstoppable after winning the absolute division of both the Pan Ams and Brazilian Nationals, but this year we will see the return of Xande!  Although Alexandre "Xande" Ribeiro didn't compete last year, he was the 2008 Mundials heavyweight and absolute champion, and has to be considered the favorite.  Elivis lives on as a Brazilian incarnate named Nino who will be returning to the Mundials for the first time since 2006.  Nino recently opened up his academy in Manhatten Beach, and has shaken off some mat rust winng two matches at the Fabio Santos.  Alexandre "the other Pasado Alexandre" Souza and Ceconi are exciting competitors as well, and should be in the running for a podium finish.  Lovato is my pick for the division dark horse, and if he wins the bracket lotto, he could go deep with his incredible guard.

Prediction:  This all depends on how the brackets play out, but I predict a Faria vs Ribiero final.

Super – Pesado (Super Heavyweight) - Under 221 lbs (100.5kg)

Favorites:  Roger Gracie, Roberto Tussa Alencar, Roger Gracie, Bruno Bastos, Roger Gracie, Marcel Fortuna, Roger Gracie, Ricardo Demente, and Roger Gracie

Roger Gracie (shown above) is the greatest jiu jitsu athelete in recent times, and arguably the best in the history of the sport (No, I'm not confusing him with another R.Gracie).  He is the division favorite.  He is the absolute favorite.  He is the favorite to take your girlfriend with him back to London.  Rumor has it, he can turn water into Acaii.   There is one caveat!   Roger has been focusing on MMA after a recent win against Kevin Randleman, and only Roger knows if this will dectract from his Brazilian Jiu Jitsu game.  In 2008, fresh off of an MMA win, he won his division, but merely took second in absolutes, and did not display his usual dominant game, which he admitted after the tourney.  In 2009, he brought his A-game, and put on the most dominant display of jiu jitsu ever!  As Roger Gracie is unable to compete against himself, other competitors will be in the bracket, including Tussa Alencar, who is an exciting athelete to watch.  I suggest keeping an eye on Demente, last year's runner up, assuming his recent knee injury does not hamper his performance.

Prediction:  Roger Gracie will become the first Mundials comeptitor to take first, second, and third place while blindfolded.

Pesadissimo (Super Super Heavyweight) - Over 221 lbs (100.5kg)

Favorites:  Luiz “Big Mac” Theodoro, Gabriel Vella, Antonio Peinado, Cyborg, Rodrigo Cavaca, Antonio Braga Neto, Marcio “Pe De Pano” Cruz , and Marcio Corleta

This is one of the most competitive Ultra Heavyweight divisions in recent memory.  Normally, we only see a couple of elite competitors stomping around in this bracket, however this year we'll see a lot of talent sporting A-6 kimonos.  Gabriel Vella (shown above), is both the returning Mundials champion and this year’s Pan Ams champ.  Pe De Pano will be returning as well, and while he hasn’t been competing with Gi for a while, he is a two time Absolute Champion in past years.  Marcio Corletta is another legend returning after a long layoff , who placed third in the 2009 Mundials.  Braga Neto, who normally competes down a weight class will most likely be on the lower end of the weight spectrum.  Peinado, Cyborg, and Cavaca are strong competitors as well.

Prediction:  While this is a very competitive bracket, I predict a Vella vs Big Mac repeat of this year’s Pan Ams.  Expect to see a brutal grip fighting judo match, followed by carbo-loading on Rooserweights for sustanance.

June is my favorite month...

Ever since the Mundials moved to California in 2007, June has been my favorite. For the first week of this month the BJJ stars from all over the world converge to my neck of the woods, Southern California. As the tournament draws closer I get more and more excited. Today is the final day to sign up. Once the official athlete lists are up, I will take a look at each of the Black Belt divisions and discuss the favorites. For the time being, here is a Graciemag article which talks about Alliance, who in my view is the best overall team at this time, and favorites to win in Long Beach.

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