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European Open 2010

 

European Open 2010

Complexo Municipal Esportivo do Casal Vistoso

Rua João Silva, Lisbon, Portugal

 

 

 

Before I go into the post I wanted to point out something very important.  This past Monday was the King’s birthday.  Given his chronic alcoholism and penchant to smoke a pack of cigarettes a day, I think it is a great accomplishment that he has made it this far into his 30’s.  So King, from me and the entire Jiu Jitsu Universe, HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

Moving on….

This weekend is the start of the 2011 Brazilian Jiu Jitsu circuit.  Like every year, the first major tournament is the European Open.  It is consider the first of the four “Grand Slam” events.  Over the years this event has grown significantly.  Last I checked there were around 1800 competitors registered for the event. 

Without further delay, let’s take a look at the black belts

 

Rooster

Easy.  No winner here as no one is signed up.

 

Light Feather

Favorites: Laercio Fernandes, Leandro Martins, Bruno Malfacine, Ary Farias

The king of this division over the years has been Bruno Malfacine.  I think he has won the worlds at this weight 2 years in a row.  Actually to think about it, I do not think Bruno has lost since the 2007 Mundials.  I see him as the clear favorite here.

A competitor that I will be watching intently is Ary Farias.  This marks the debut of this Jacare/Viera Brothers and now Ramon Lemos prodigy.  For you BJJ diehards, Ary appeared in the first Arte Suave video training with Jacare.  I think he was in his preteens when that was shot.  He has come a LONG way from then.

My dark horse here is Laercio Fernandes.  He seems to have slipped under the radar of the BJJ world, even though he has medaled at most of the major events.  He had a big win over Caio Terra at last year’s American Nationals.   Unfortunately, if things go as planned, Laercio will meet Bruno Malfacine in his second fight.  If Laercio can somehow pull that one out then he has a great shot to win.

 

Feather

It seems like Atos WANTS this division.  They have 4 people signed up here in Gui and Rafa Mendes, Bruno Frazzato, and Eduardo Ramos.  Interesting as this is not a huge bracket (10 entrants), so 2 Atos fighters (if they win their first fight) will only fight once!  Due to this it will be hard to try and predict a winner.  I have the Mendes Brothers and Bruno as 3 very strong favorites to take this all.  But since they won’t fight each other it will be hard to predict who will go forward to the championships, and if there will even be a championship as Rafa and Gui are on opposite sides.  But one glimmer of hope was the last Asian Open where the 2 brothers did meet in the final and decided to “fight”.

Justin Rader is an intriguing entrant.  He won the No Gi worlds recently and looks to have a lot of momentum coming from that.  Justin’s style is more suited towards the fast paced, scrambling no gi game.  I think people will be curious to see if he can translate his no gi success over to the gi.

Ryan Hall is another entrant to watch out for.  He could very well upset Gui Mendes.

 

Light

This is the division that will be the most watched.  This is a mundial caliber bracket. 

Names of note: Gilbert “Durinho” Burns, Michael Langhi, JT Torres, Jake Mackenzie, Augusto “Tanquinho” Mendes, Helder “Bob Esponje” Medeiros, and Lucas Lepri.

The name above are of 8 fighters that could easily win this division.  I think that the betting favorites to win it all are a Lepri/Langhi close out.  These two have closed out this division at almost every tournament for the past 2 years.  The real outlier has been the past 2 mundials where Lucas fell short in the earlier rounds.

If all goes according to plan, we will see a Langhi vs Durinho semifinal on one side of the bracket.  This will be a rematch of last week’s World Pro final where Langhi beat Durinho by 2 points.  These 2 have met several times in the past, and all have been great technical fights.  I do not think that Durinho has won one of these matches, at the black belt level at least.  After watching the video from last week’s fight, it looks as if Langhi is back and healed from his shoulder surgery.

On the other side of the bracket we have 3 favorites in JT Torres, Augusto Mendes, and Lucas Lepri.  Tough fighters here will also be Jake Mackenzie and Helder Medeiros.  But as luck will have it, Jake’s first fight is JT Torres and Medeiros’s second fight will be Lepri.   If JT can get past Mendes then he will have a great shot to make the final and take it all.  During last year’s Brasileiros, JT submitted Lucas Lepri.  Something that hadn’t been done in a long time.  Do not be surprised to see JT receiving the gold on the podium.

 

Middle

There are 3 clear cut favorites here in Claudio Calasans, Victor Estima, and Alan “Finfou” Nascimiento.   

Claudio and Victor are in the same bracket which, barring any surprises will make for a great semifinal.   Victor did not compete that much last year and to my knowledge did just one major tournament, the No Gi Worlds.  Claudio on the other hand has been competing at almost every major event of 2010.  In fact he won both weight and absolute at last year’s World Pro Championships in Abu Dhabi.  2 fighters that could spoil an Estima/Calasans semifinal are Ryan Beauregard and Marcos Souza (Asian Open Absolute Champion, I think he also had a win over JT Torres at that championship).

Finfou should have no problem getting through his side of the brackets.  The one threat I see here could be Bruno Almeida. 

 

Medium Heavy

A dream match could be brewing here if everything goes how it should.  If that does happen, the viewers will be treated to a final between Sergio Moraes vs Braulio Estima.  Sergio burst on the scene a couple years ago when he handed Kron Gracie his first loss in over 60 fights (this streak started all the way from his purple belt!).  Not only did Sergio submit Kron but he also ran through the rest of his division en route to his first Black Belt World Championship.  Braulio has been out of competition for what seems like forever, but in reality I believe that the last time he competed was at the World Pro in Abu Dhabi early last year.  Known for his guard game, this match will show two technical forms of BJJ – explosive top vs an incredible and seemingly un-passable guard.

2 fighters that should stand in the way of Braulio and Sergio are Kleber “Buiu” Oliveira and Rogel Monsalve.  King and I for one would like to see Buiu do well as we had the pleasure of training with him when we were in Rio 2 years ago.

 

Heavy

I don’t want to say that this is easy but only 2 names jump out at me on this list – Bernardo Faria and Leo Nogueira.  Both are Alliance aces and both have not been black belts for too long, I think they may have been promoted late 2009.  Look for an Alliance close out in this 8 man division

 

Super Heavy

Small field here with only 7 entrants, but with 3 names that are perennial medalists at all the big tournaments.

On the first side of the bracket we find Lagarto and Bruno Bastos.  Assuming they don’t lost their first round matches, these two will face off in the semifinals.  Bruno has been competing at every signal tournament in recent memory.  His game plan/style is to pull half guard, sweep and pressure from the top.  Once on top he slows down the fight and plays a very conservative game – this often leads to a very frustrating fight for his opponent. 

Lagarto may be a new name to some of the newer BJJ fans, but he is anything but a rookie.  Lagarto was a frequent competitor in the early to mid 2000’s but was derailed that last few years with Cancer. 

 The 2nd half of the bracket has 3 people with one of them being Rafael Lovato.  He must of received the #1 ranking in this division as he has the only bye with a pretty weak side of the bracket.  Expect to see him the finals vs Lagarto/Bastos.

 

Ultra Heavy

Division is filled with a few lesser known competitors.  But Rodrigo Cavaca, last year’s mundial champion is entered here.  He should win this division with a road bump in Comprido on his side of the bracket.  Expect a Cavaca vs Igor Silva final in this one.

 

Ladies

Not too many entrants here, but the ones that did come are all quality!  Some of the lady stars in Lisbon are Kyra Gracie, Gabi Garcia, Luanna Alzuiguir, Leticia Ribeiro, Bea Mesquita, and Michelle Nicollini.

Kyra and Leticia headline the feather division as both are on opposite sides of the bracket and should meet in the final.

The light division has 5 entrants, but 3 of which could be called the best in the world.  Right off the bat we will be entertained with a rematch from the No Gi mundials when Bea Mesquita faces off against Michelle Nicollini.  At the No Gi mundials these two fought twice (absolute and weight), taking one win a piece.  The winner of this gets Luanna in the finals.  Talk about a quality 2 fights!

The absolute should be a closeout by the Alliance duo – Luanna and Gabi (who doesn’t have an opponent at weight).  I read in graciemag that Kyra is out of the absolute.  I’m hoping that Bea and Michelle enter and try to stop Gabbi and Luanna.