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2011 World Jiu Jitsu Championship

 

2011 World Jiu Jitsu Championship

 

DATE: June 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th 2011.

ADDRESS: California State University, Long Beach - 1250 Bellflower Blvd.
Long Beach, CA 90840

 

This will be forever known as the “Worlds without Roger.”  Super Pesado and absolute competitors are breathing a sigh of relief as for the first time since 2002 Roger Gracie will not make an Absolute Final’s appearance.  Roger decided to forgo the Mundials this year due to him just recovering from a leg injury.  Hopefully he gets an invite to this year’s ADCC in London and we can watch him there!

Before we get to the brackets, keep in mind that Alliance (aside from trying to win their 3 Worlds in a row) is trying to pull off the Grand Slam in 2011.  The Grand Slam is winning all 4 major IBJJF Gi Championships.  Alliance has already won the Europeans, Pans, and Brazilian Nationals.  Given that Alliance is bringing a loaded team at all belt levels, I think that there is little doubt they will accomplish this feat.  In the lower belt I think that the one team that can throw a wrench in their plans is Lloyd Irvin’s school.  They may not have a lot of black belts, but Lloyd is churning out some amazing blue, purple and brown belts.  Of note is his Purple Belt crop (DJ Jackson, Frank Camacho, Andris Brunovskis, Willie Leonard, John Delbrugge, Brad Pearson, etc).  Once the lower belts are done and if Alliance has somewhat of a lead, I really don’t see any team stopping them as Alliance has legitimate contenders at all weight division from Galo to Pesadissimo.

 

Galo

Contenders: Bruno Malfacine, Caio Terra, Rafael “Barata” Freitas, Brandon “Wolverine” Mullins, Yusuke Honma, Makoto Sawada

A field of 18 here which is actually one of the bigger ones I have seen at this weight.  Normally you would be hard pressed to find 8 people in the division.  I think much like the last 2 years, the finals will be another Bruno Malfacine vs. Caio Terra affair.  I love upsets but this will be the one division that I will be rooting for the favorites from start to finish.  The reason being is the underlying drama between Caio and Bruno.  After this year’s Pan Finals (that Caio won when these 2 fought in the weight division above) Caio made some very bold statements.  He said that he proved that “technique would beat steroids and that the IBJJF needed to start steroid testing.”  Now these comments were made right after the fight with Bruno and in front of a packed UC Irvine Stadium.  Caio may not have named Bruno but one can figure who he was talking about.  Actually most people feel he was accusing most of the Alliance guys (and “girl”) with these comments.  With this underlying drama, the dislike these 2 have for each other, this will be a great final.

Of course getting to the finals won’t be as easy as there are several competitors who do have a chance of coming up with the upset.  Felipe Costa the “King of the Bronze” (I think he has 6 or 7 worlds bronze medals) with try and put up a fight.  But has had little to no success against Malfacine, in fact losing to Bruno by a score of 20 something to 0 the last time they met.  Brandon Mullins of Gracie Barra is another one to watch but should he progress he would face Bruno in their second fight.  On the other side of the bracket is Rafael “Barata” Freitas, this year’s Pan Champion.  He should be in the mix for a medal but I highly doubt he would get past Caio Terra.

 

Pluma

Contenders: Ary Farias, Gui Mendes, Carlos “Esquisito” Holanda, Pablo da Silva, Samuel Braga, Samir Chantre, Laercio Fernandes, Daniel Beleza, Dai Yoshioka

Gui Mendes looks to do a lot better than he did at last year’s edition where he had a first round exit.  But in Gui’s defense it was against eventual Champion Pablo da Silva who was on no one’s radar till that win.  If Gui wants to get his revenge he will have to do it in the final as Silva is in the opposite bracket.  One person whose praise I have been singing for over a year now is Laercio Fernandes of Lotus Club/Robot Jiu Jitsu.  Last year Laercio medaled at the worlds and beat Caio Terra at the American Nationals.  He seems to be right at the edge to break through, will it be this year?  If so he will have a tough road with a first round draw with Sonny Nohara, a possible 2nd round against Daniel Beleza, and if he does get through both fights he would meet Gui in the quarterfinals.  The favorite to meet Gui in the semifinals would be Samuel Braga of Gracie Barra.  This Draculino student closed out the worlds last year with Pablo Silva.  I’ve seen videos of Samuel training for this event and he looks very strong.  If he does make it to the finals with Gui it would be a rematch of their controversial mundials final in 2009 where Samuel was disqualified for punching Mendes.

The other bracket has Silva and Ary Farias.  This is Ary’s first world as a black belt but this rookie is a heavy favorite.  Physically I don’t think anyone can handle him in this division as Ary is an incredibly strong light feather weight.  But he does have a bad draw where would face Dai Yoshioka in the 2nd round.  Yoshioka is an unfamiliar name to most being located in Japan but has an impassable guard that earned a silver medal at the 2009 worlds.

 

Pena

Contenders: Cobrinha, Bruno Frazatto, Rafa Mendes, Denilson Pimenta, Theodoro Canal, Mario Reis, Wellington Dias, Gustavo Carpio, Marcelino Freitas, Justin Radar, Augusto “Tanquinho” Mendes

The shortest retirement since Brett Favre – Cobrinha is back!  After announcing that last year was his last worlds and his desire to concentrate on his academy, Rubens “Cobrinha” Charles couldn’t stay off the mats for too long.  He competed at this year’s Abu Dhabi Pro and doing well at it.  In fact he came in 2nd at the absolute losing to jiu jitsu’s current stud in Rodolfo Vieira. 

But even Cobrinha at his best has had a tough time beating Rafa Mendes with Rafa winning their last encounter during the finals of the 2010 Worlds.  Quite frankly Rafa has got to be the favorite to repeat in this division.  But he will also face a very tough task in beating the “other” Mendes in Augusto “Tanquinho” Mendes.  Tanquinho usually fights up a weight class but dropped down to Pena at this year’s Abu Dhabi Pro and beat Rafa in a final marred by controversy.  The rematch would happen in this final.  But Tanquinho will have no easy time getting there far as he would have to beat Ryan Hall, Bruno Frazzato, AND Cobrinha along the way.

Marcelino Freitas and Mario Reis could make a run for the title as well.  They fall on the same side as Rafa Mendes and will have some very hard fights as well.  We have to mention Mario’s first fight as it is against a friend of ours here at pullingtheline.   It will be against Gustavo Carpio a Marra Senki black belt with a great spider guard.  Gustavo is right on the cusp of breaking into the upper echelons of the Pena division, he is coming off a win over Justin Rader.  Can this up and comer pull off the upset against a declining Mario Reis?  We will find out Saturday!

 

Leve

Contenders: Lucas Lepri, Michael Langhi, Gilbert “Durinho” Burns, Phillipe “Furao” Della Monica, Celso Vinicius, Kron Gracie, Jt Torres, Leandro Perreira do Nascimineto

Talk about a stacked division!  47 competitors and about a quarter have a good shot at medaling.  The last few years this division has been led by the two Alliance aces in Michael Langhi and Lucas Lepri.  But finally there is someone who has shown he can consistently spoil the Alliance close out.  His name is Leandro Perreira do Nascimineto.  The last 2 times Leandro and Michael have met; Leandro has come out the victor.  I don’t think that the casual BJJ fan has heard of Leandro till his wins over Langhi but he has been winning at the lower belts – 2010 Brazilian Brown Belt Champion.  Can Leandro spoil another Alliance close out?  Leandro will have to work hard to meet Langhi in the finals since none other than Kron Gracie is on Leandro’s side.  Kron is dropping down a weight from his usual Medio division.  I think that this is a better move for Kron as his build looks more suitable for this weight category.  Kron has won gold at every single belt level in the mundials with black being the lone missing color.

The 2nd bracket is just as stacked as the first.  This side has the likes of Lucas Lepri, Jt Torres, Durinho, and Celsinho.  To get to the semifinal Lepri is going to have to beat Durinho.  Much like his name, Durinho is a tough fighter.  Durinho’s first fight should be against Tim Peterson of Robot Jiu Jitsu.  We mention/support Tim as he too is a West LA Bjj practitioner and we have been watching him compete at all the local tournaments over the years.  He recently had a win against a very tough opponent in Jeremy Umphries of Wedrum Combat Team/PKG.

Celsinho claims that this will be his last worlds as he wants to focus on his school and seminars.  I would love to see him succeed and face Langhi in the final (a rematch from last year where Langhi won by refs decision).  But to do so Celsinho would have to beat Jt Torres in the quarterfinals.  If Jt wasn’t in such a tough division he would already have medaled at the black belt worlds.  But unfortunately he fights in such a tough division that he will get that elusive gold in another year.  I think that Jt is America’s budding bjj super star.  Love him or hate him, Lloyd Irvin has done well with Jt.

 

Medio

Contenders: Marcelo Garcia, Rodrigo Caporal, Claudio Calasans, Gustavo Campos, Murilo Santana, Clark Gracie, Lucas Leite, Victor Estima, Alan Nascimiento, Daniel Garcia

Marcelo Garcia – theoretically I could end the write up with just saying that, and honestly you would be hard pressed to argue with me on that.  But no I would never do that to the faithful pullingtheline fans.

As you can guess Marcelo is the favorite in this division.  He won it last year with a sweep over Claudio Calasans.  In recent memory I think that Marcelo has only lost to Roger Gracie (Absolute Division) at the Worlds.  Scanning my youtube fed brain; I think that Marcelo lost to Terere at weight over 7 years ago.  It is safe to say that this is Marcelo’s division.

3 thorns in Marcelo’s bracket will be in the forms of Victor Estima, Guto Campos and Alan “Finfou” Nascimiento.  Guto and Finfou will have to duke it out with each other first to see who progresses ahead to face Marcelo.  Now I do think that Victor has a shot at beating Marcelo but it is a long one.

But how long will this reign last?  It can be said that Calasans should be the favorite here.  He competes a lot more than Marcelo and has beaten some very big names in the past year, capping things off with an amazing wrist lock finish on Lucas Leite at this year’s Pans.   Claudio has a tough bracket with Clark Gracie, Murilo Santana (my dark horse in this division), and Lucas Leite.

A name missing in this group is that of Kayron Gracie.  Not too sure why but it doesn’t seem that he is registered for this year’s competition.  Kayron had a great semifinal bout with Marcelo last year and only losing by a sweep and guard pass.

Never the less I expect to see Marcelo square off against Calasans on Sunday.  Can Calasans dethrone the king? 

 

Medio Pesado

Contenders: Sergio Moraes, Ian McPherson, Eduardo Santoro, Otavio Souza, Romulo Barral, Eduardo Telles

A couple of the heavy favorites of this division are out this year: Andre Galvao, Braulio Estima (recovering from injury and saving himself for Abu Dhabi) and last year’s champion Tarsis Humprheys (I believe he is having surgery as we speak).  I am a big fan of the aforementioned 3 but don’t be fooled there are still a lot of super stars left in this division.

Surprisingly Sergio Moraes moved up a division.  I’ve always thought that Sergio looked like the biggest middleweight out there.  I wonder how much he had to cut to drop down to medio?  Even though he does move up I still expect him to be physically dominant in division and is a strong favorite to reach the final.

The main challenger in Serginho’s side of the bracket is Otavio Sousa.  Though young, Otavio has been around the scene for awhile now amassing countless medals at all the belts.  Though I do not think he consistently is yet on the level of Sergio he does have to tools to cause an upset.  Otavio has beaten some very tough names in the past.  Aside from that, physically Otavio is probably the one person in this division who is just as strong and explosive as Sergio.  If these 2 meet it will be a fast paced scrambling affair. 

The 2nd strong favorite in this division would be last year’s silver medalist Romulo Barral.  Aside from being a favorite here, Romulo is a top 4 choice to take the absolute division as well.  Personally I am a huge Romulo fan and quite frankly pattern my game after him but even I am not sold on this.  The reason being is that Romulo had a very serious knee injury in last year’s finals against Tarsis Humphreys.  Since recovering he has come back but it does seem that the injury has taken something out of him.  He doesn’t seem to be in top rhythm coming into this tournament. If it came down to a Sergio vs. Barral final, my heart would be on Barral but my money would be on Moraes - as a fan and a Gracie Barra loyalist I really hope I am wrong on this.

Romulo is going to work hard to get through to the finals.  He has Eduardo Telles, Ian McPherson and Eduardo Santoro all on his side.  Eduardo “The turtle guard” Telles will give anyone fits.  If people remember the mundials from 2009 where the man himself, Roger Gracie, couldn’t even pass the daunted “Turtle Guard” and had to settle for a ref’s decision win over Telles.  Ian McPherson is a new black belt and made his debut at this year’s Pans.  Ian had a stellar lower belt career but once it hits the black, it all starts over!  Eduardo Santoro is an unknown star to the casual fan, but do not let that fool you as this man is as legit as they come.  He has been very successful on the local Paulista circuit for awhile and came 2nd at this year’s Pan to Andre Galvao.  In fact Eduardo has a submission victory over Sergio Moraes at last year’s World League Pro in Sao Paulo.

 

Pesado

Contenders: Bernardo Faria, Rodolfo Vieira, Roberto “Tussa” Alencar, Alexandre Ceconi, Rafael Lovato, Antonio Barbosa

Rodolfo Vieira hands down.  This guy is in such amazing form at the moment that you would be a fool to bet against him.  I have him as the favorite not just for this division but the absolute as well, especially without Roger being here.  This would have been a great matchup, but alas we shall have to wait at least another year.

The silver to Rodolfo’s gold should go to Bernardo Faria.  This would be a rematch from this year Pan Absolute and Pesado final where Rodolfo won both against Bernardo.  On Bernardo’s side of the bracket there lies this field’s dark horse in the form of Antonio Barbosa from Chekmat.  Barbosa just got his black belt late in 2010.  He won this division at brown belt and closed the finals of the brown absolute with teammate Marcus Buchecha Almeida.  Not many people know about Barbosa but he could emerge here and pull the upset on Faria.  But first Barbosa must defeat Roberto “Tussa” Alencar.  If Alencar is on fire Saturday he too could pull off a string of wins

Rodolfo’s side of the bracket has the only man who beat him this year, Rafael Lovato Jr.  But this defeat came in a 7 minute No Gi fight, none the less Lovato holds a win over Vieira this year.  Rodolfo’s gi form this year has been absolutely stunning and I can’t see him faltering here.  Plus Lovato must beat another contender in Alexandre Ceconi of Rillion Gracie.

 

Super Pesado

Contenders: Antonio Peinado, Leo Nogueira, Joao Assis, Marcus “Buchecha” Almeida, Bruno Bastos

With Roger Gracie’s absence competitors can finally compete for gold in this division!  Roger has been the sort of boogeyman for many fighters, so much so fighters are known to either move up or down a division to avoid him.

Good to see Peinado come back down after competing at Pesadissimo for a couple of years.  He always seemed like a smaller guy in the division of the giants!  Now Peinado should be one of the larger competitors in this field.  Peinado is on the same side of bracket as the odds on favorite Marcus “Buchecha” Almeida.  Buchecha is coming off a submission victory over Bruno Bastos (another divisional contender) at this year’s final of the Pan.

The 2 favorites in the other bracket would be Leo Nogueira and Joao Assis.  Leo is Peinado’s partner in crime at Alliance and 2 would love to close out this division.  But I really do not think this will happen as Leo must get by Joao Assis.  Joao had an amazing 2010 where he was arguably the best No Gi Grappler out there.  But at the recent Samurai Pro Tournament Joao showed his gi game is just as good by beating Roberto Alencar and Antonio Braga Neto in the same day!  I’m thinking a Chekmat close out with Assis and Buchcecha.

 

Pesadissimo

Contenders: Rodrigo Cavaca, Antonio Braga Neto, Marcio Cruz, Mick Wilson, Roberto “Cyborg” Abreu

The big boys got game!  No longer is this division a stand up grip fighting event.  The fighters in the category this year all can play top or bottom.  Last year’s winner Cavaca is back in the mix.  But not much has been heard of him since last year’s worlds.  Hopefully he isn’t too rusty and his 50/50 guard and array of foot locks are as sharp as ever.  To get to the finals Cavaca is going to have to beat BJJ legend Marcio “Pe De Pano” Cruz in the semi’s.  But this would be a repeat of last year where Cavaca triangle Pe De Pano mere moments into the match.

The other side of the bracket seems to be the tougher of the 2 as Mick Wilson, Braga Neto, and Cyborg all look to capture some world gold.  Mick Wilson is only the 2nd foreigner to win the Brazilian Nationals (first being Lovato).  Mick is an unknown to most as he is based in Australia, but do not doubt him as he is as tough as they come.  Braga Neto is one of the most intense competitors out there and truly has an all around game.  I cannot really pinpoint the man’s style as he is just as dynamic on the top as he is on the bottom.  Cyborg is a crowd favorite.  One would be wary to blink when this man is fighting.  During last year’s worlds, Cyborg was losing to Braga Neto by a wide margin only to pull out a triangle submission in the waning moments!

That is it folks!  I really wanted to analyze the women’s division and brown belts but sadly there is just not enough time in the day to do so.  I wish that the IBJJF had a finalized list last weekend!