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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.

brown belt ultra heavy

Abraham Marte crushed both orlando sanchez and willie leonard, in about a minute each. pwned.