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2010 Pulling the Line Brazilian Jiu Jistu Awards


2010 Pulling the Line Brazilian Jiu Jistu Awards

Editors Note: These awards are based heavily on IBJJF results.  There are many other great organizations out there such as Grapplers Quest, but being based in the LA we are not exposed as much to these other entities.

(This is Pre Kingof CrazyShit’s input – so it won’t be funny yet, but check back soon!)


Best Team:  Alliance

“Alliance eu sou….oooo….Alliance eu sou”

Any self pro claimed jiu jitsu die hard has heard this chant before.  This is something that I have envied about Alliance.  When they do get together (regardless of what branch they represent around the world) they truly act as a unified team.  Whether competing on the mats or cheering for their teammates, they really are a TEAM.

Alliance started off the year with one goal in mind, win the Jiu Jitsu Grand Slam.  Achieving this would mean winning the Adult team events at the: Europeans, Pans, Brazilian Nationals, and the Worlds.  Alliance almost pulled this off, missing out only at the Brazilian Nationals were they lost to an emerging Chek Mat team.  Nonetheless, Alliance was the most dominant team this year and are very deserving of this award.

New Comer of the Year

How does one win this award?  What is the criteria for this?  A new comer isn’t necessarily a rookie.  Rather I view this as someone who was not on anyone’s radar till this year.  This is someone who wasn’t necessarily a star at the lower belts but rather someone who got things together in 2010.

The award goes to Bernardo Farias.  I could have given Bernardo the Rookie of the Year award since he did just receive his black late last year.  But I felt he was more deserving of this.  Prior to his results at the Euros (2nd in weight, 3rd Absolute) it could be argued that no one had really heard of him.  Bernardo then leveraged his Euro campaign with first place finishes at weight and absolute at this year’s Pans.  This was not an easy accomplishment, Bernardo went through some big names in Lovato, Cavaca, and Braga Neto .  But I think the jewel of his run this year was done at the Worlds in Long Beach.  Bernardo defeated Jiu Jitsu legend Xande Ribiero to take the Pesado World Championships.

Honorable Mention: Roberto “Cyborg” Abreu – I couldn’t give Cyborg this award as he really wasn’t an “unknown” in 2009.  But he did have an amazing year.  He had one of the best fights of this millennium when he came from behind with less than a minute left to triangle Braga Neto in the semis of the Pesadissimo division in this year’s worlds.  Aside from that triumph, Cyborg has been Tornado Guarding (is that even an expression?) everyone in his path this year.  He won the Honolulu Open as well as a double Gold at this year’s No Gi Mundials.  Cyborg also had a big win over Rolles Gracie at a UFC Super Fight.


Rookie of the Year

The winner here easily could have been named “New Comer of the Year.”  But like I said I viewed the new comer as someone we had not heard of prior to 2010.  The Rookie of the year award goes to Jt Torres of Team Lloyd Irvin. 

Whether you love him or hate him, you have to admit that Lloyd Irvin produces quality competitors.  Yes JT did come to Lloyd as a brown belt, but since this occurred, this partnership has reaped its fair share of rewards.  For me personally, JT was probably the brown belt that I was most excited to see at the black belt level.  In 2010 he did not disappoint!  I think that the big stand out for JT this year was the Brazilian Nationals where he submitted category favorite Lucas Lepri on his way to winning silver in the division. 

It may not happen next year, but JT one day will be a world champion.  Only 2 other American’s have won Mundial’s gold at Black belt (BJ Penn and Rafael Lovato).  JT is the odds on favorite to be the third.

Male Gi Grappler of the Year

Ok, this award is a lot tougher than it sounds.  Personally, when someone asks me who the best “Gi Grappler” is?  I have an automatic response – Roger Gracie.  But given that a lot of these awards are competition based, is Roger Gracie really a good answer?  Since 2007 Roger has been competing at one tournament a year, and that is the Mundials in Long Beach.  His performances are so dominant that he becomes the default answer to this question.  But is competing at one event a year enough ammo for this award?  The Roger Gracie fan in me says a most definite yes, but my inner BJJ fan says a resounding NO!

Once again at this year’s Mundials Roger plowed through the competition.  If his submission of choices was the choke from mount in 09, then this was the year of the back choke.  Roger submitted every opponent except for the finals of his weight (won on points) and absolute finals (Barral was injured).  Aside from this Roger was also crowned the first 3 time absolute champion at the Worlds.  The absolute finals have been a home coming for Roger as he has made it there every year since 2003.  Without a doubt Roger has been the most dominant BJJ fighter in the past 10 years.

Now back to the award.  I think that this may cause some uproar, but given the facts, I truly believe that my choice is a very deserving one.  2010’s Gi Grappler of the year goes to Rodrigo Cavaca.  There were many people worthy of this (Farias, Rafa Mendes, Cobrinha, etc).  But if you look at the results of 2010, I think you may agree with me that this was Cavaca’s year. 

Cavaca’s IBJJ Main Events Results

Euro: 1st in Weight, 2nd in Absolute

Pan Am: 3rd in Weight, 3rd in Absolute

Worlds: 1st in Weight, 3rd in Absolute

Brazilian Nationals: 1st in Weight, 3rd in Absolute

Honorable Mention: Rafa Mendes – Aside from Roger Gracie, I think that the 2nd safest choice would have been Rafa Mendes.  Rafa is coming off an amazing year where he dethroned the legendary Rubens “Cobrinha” Charles at this year’s worlds.  One gripe I have with Rafa is that he does not compete in the Absolute category.  But this not his fault as his team, Atos, has heavier fighter who do well in the open weight division.  But after watching Rafa compete at the open during the Abu Dhabi World Pro, I got excited with the hopes he would continue to compete in this class.  He had an amazing match against the svelte 300 pounder Luis “Big Mac” Theodoro.  He very well could have gone further but bowed out to his larger teammate Claudio Calasans in the quarterfinals.

Female Grappler of the Year

My choice for female gi grappler this year would be Luanna Alzuguir from Alliance.  Luana and her counterpart Gabrielle Garcia doubled up in nearly every tournament they entered this year.  Luanna would have had double gold at this year’s mundials, but an inspired Kyra Gracie beat her during the finals of their weight class.  Luanna posses an incredible guard that would give anyone fits.

Male No Gi Grappler of the Year

I have a tie here.  Both come from the newly formed “Avenger’s” team, and there is no doubt in my mind that both are should receive this award.  This year’s award goes to Pablo Popovitch and Roberto “Cyborg” Abreu.

Since winning Abu Dhabi last year, Pablo has been on an absolute tear!  Actually I do not think he has lost in several years (No Gi only).  This year Pablo competed at various IBJJF events and usually won weight and absolute - when not sharing the podium with a teammate.

Pablo recently stated that he will be competing in the Gi next year.  I for one have never seen him compete with the kimono on and look forward to seeing this!  He has a very conservative game, when he progresses to a position he almost never loses it.  I think that this strategy/style will benefit Pablo when he does don the gi.

Cyborg is one of the most exciting fighters to watch.  Gi or No Gi, his game transcends both categories.  The creator of the “Tornado Guard” really had a great year in and without the gi.  In fact he was runner up in another one of our awards (New Comer of the Year).  Cyborg capped off 2010 with winning weight and absolute at the recent No Gi Mundials in Long Beach.  In the past few tournament he has displayed a nasty “knee throat choke” that he has innovative.  We look forward to seeing more of this in 2011!

Up and Coming Non Black Belt Fighters (non black belt as of 12/17/2010)

Alec Baulding – What a year this guy has had!  Alec won nearly every single tournament he competed in, only losing out in the Purple Belt Absolute final by a few advantage points.  Medio (the category Alec competes in) is usually the largest division with a normal tournament consisting of over 50 competitors.  Alec won this division at both the Pans and Worlds beating out some very good opponents.

Alec also, in my view, had the best fight of the year.   In the quarter finals of the Purple Absolute at the Worlds, Alec faced off against Willie Leonard of Lloyd Irvin.  Willie fights in the Ultra Heavy division, and I would have to guess that there is no way he could drop down to a lower weight division.  Plus Willie is also a very accomplished collegiate wrestler.  Alex won the fight with an omoplata to arm bar transition that got the Long Beach Pyramid on its feet!

Tracey Goodell – Not only is she a beauty, but boy can she grapple!  Tracey had probably the fastest rise through the belts since BJ Penn, and honestly I think she has BJ beat.  Tracey started out 2010 as the arguably the best Blue Belt in the world.  Lloyd Irvin promoted Tracey to Purple Belt right before the worlds.  A lot was expected from her upon entering this tournament, but what she did during this year’s edition was spectacular.  I believe she had 9 fights in weight and absolute, with ALL ending in a submission.  The only other dominating performance that I could compare that to in recent memory was Roger Gracie’s showing in 2009.  Shortly after this, Tracey was AGAIN promoted, this time to Brown Belt.  Furthermore, Tracey solidified her place as one of the top women grapplers by fighting champion Black Belt Penny Thomas and only losing by mere 2 points at a Grapplers Quest super fight – not bad for a girl who in January was a Blue Belt!

Sebastian Brosche – Who the hell is Sebastian Brosche?  This was a questions asked during this year’s worlds.  Sebastian came out of nowhere to win Purple Middle and Absolute divisions.  Sebastian is a Swede based in Norway (i think) and has a very strong Judo background.  One other fact, Sebastian got his purple belt a few months before this year’s Worlds!  There is a good chance he will still be at this belt next year!

Lower Belts to watch out for in 2011:

Blue Belt: Florentino Morales (Gracie Barra), Edwin Najmi (Gracie Barra),

Purple Belt: Sinsitro Itturalde (Alliance), Willie Leonard (Lloyd Irvin), Mackenzie Dern (Gracie Humaita), Gianni Grippo (Renzo Gracie), Orlando Sanchez (Gracie Barra), Dj Jackson (Lloyd Irvin), Frank Camacho (Lloyd Irvin)

Brown Belt: Pedro Santos (Gordo Bjj/ Rabico Novo Leblon), Yuri Simoes (Atos), Erik Anderson (Aloisio Silva), Ronis Gracie (Gracie Barra), Beneil Darush (Ralph gracie), Jason Parry (Gracie Barra)

Don't forget Lana

For some reason, she seems to slip off people's radar when it comes to "Americans winning at the Mundials." Which is a shame, as Lana Stefanac has an impressive string of credentials on that score: at the 2009 Mundials (, she won her weight and the absolute, while still a brown belt. Best of all, she was super-humble about it afterwards, giving full credit to her opponents and noting her size advantage over Kyra. Unless you just meant JT would be the third male American? As in terms of Americans, male and female, I think he'd be the fifth, after Penn, Lovato, Stefanac and Hillary Williams. ---slideyfoot (

Slideyfoot, yes I did mean

Slideyfoot, yes I did mean male blackbelt fighters and I should have pointed that out. Technically Lana and Hillary were still brown belts when they won! :). But it was the black/brown division! Thank you for pointing this out - monstro

Top Ten

    Very nice tool for me to tune in to some top names in the sport right now. Who's that Florentino blue belt?? That Norwegian Brosche is sick. Thanks. Aaron/Ari Blake.