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Pan Jiu Jitsu Championship 2011

 

 

 

Date: March 24th, 25th, 26th and 27th 2011

Location: 100 Bren event center, University California Irvine - Irvine, California 92617

 

My apologies for being so tardy on this post, life and work sometimes get in the way.  But I spent quite a bit of time on this write up to bring the Pulling the Line reader quality material.

 

Enjoy!

 

Galo

A 4 man division with 2 clear favorites: Felipe Costa and Rafael “Barata” de Freitas.  Brandon Mullins could pull off the upset here with a win over Costa in the semifinals.  Either way, each man has a 25% chance of winning.

 

Pluma

10 fighters in this division and each one has a legitimate shot at winning the title here.  Last year’s winner (Carlos “Esquisito” Hollanda) and runner up (Caio Terra) are both back in this division and are on the same side of the brackets!  I think this has to do with Bruno Malfacine moving up in weight.  After years of conquering the Galo division it seems that Bruno got bored and decided to move up.  We first saw Bruno at this weight at this year’s Euro Championships where he lost to Ary Farias (a big name not to be competing in the Pans) in the finals.

A good first round matchup is Milton Bastos vs Laercio Fernandes.  Milton has had great success in the lower belts and I believe that this is his first major tournament at black.  I have been praising Laercio since his win over Caio Terra at last year’s American Nationals.  But unfortunately he again gets a bad draw; like the European's he faces Malfacine in the 2nd round of the brackets (this is assuming he beats Milton).

Finals: Expect Caio Terra vs Bruno Malfacine.  This will be a rematch of their controversial fight in last year’s finals of the mundials where Bruno won by a slim margin.  Caio has said in several interviews that he is training to “submit Malfacine.”  I hope he gets the chance!

 

Pena

Why can’t the Atos guys gain or lose weight?  Why do they have to all compete at Pena?  Didn’t they learn their lesson by closing out the European semifinals and finals?

Again Atos fields 4 strong favorites (3 of which are mundials medalists at the black belt) in Rafael Mendes, Guillherme Mendes, Bruno Frazzatto, and Ed Ramos.

Even with the looming close out of the last 3 matches, the fans will still be treated to some exciting jiu jitsu.  Guillherme draws Justin Rader in the first round.  Justin is coming of wins at last year’s no gi mundials as well as the recently concluded Houston Open.  I believe that these two have fought several times at the lower belts but never at black belt.  I think it is hard for anyone to bet against a Mendes brother.  But if Justin can keep the fight at his frenetic paces he could have a shot.

Hopefully (assuming he wins his 1st fight) Gustavo Carpio will face Rafa Mendes in the 2nd round.  I believe that this will be their 3rd time fighting each other and 2nd at black belt.  Both have amazing guards and futures in the sport.  We at pullintheline are rooting for Gustavo as once upon a time he was our instructor.

Someone who has a good chance to break up an all Atos close is Ryan Hall when he faces Ramos in the 1st round and don’t be surprised if he wins. 

Leve

Favorites: Michael Langhi, JT Torres, Lucas Lepri, Zak Maxwell, Augusto “Tanquinho” Mendes, Philippe Della Monica

Bracket 1:

Thankfully Langhi and Torres are on the same side of the bracket.  I say this cause Torres and Lepri (who is in bracket 2) have fought each other so many times in the past year, that I would like to see a new matchup!  The only way we get a rematch is if both make the finals.

An intriguing name here is Sandro “Batata” Santiago.  This name might familiar to some of the BJJ old-timers as he is famous his DVD series on the Batata Loop Chokes.  I don’t know how long it’s been since he competed but I personally will be watching his performance.

2 people could spoil Langhi vs Torres Semifinal and that would be David Ramos from Atos and Rodrigo Simoes from Gracie Barra.  But the chances of this I think are small as Langhi and Torres really are the cream of the crop.  They should have a great semifinal.  If memory serves me correctly I think that they have fought once before at last year’s European Championships with Langhi the victor.

Bracket 2:

This side has Lepri, Maxwell, Tanquinho and Della Monica.

Look for a Lepri vs Maxwell quarterfinal.  Zak won this division and the absolute at last year’s Pans as a brown belt.  He looks to continue this at the next level.  I think this is Zak’s 2nd tournament as a black belt, coming in 2nd place at last year’s American Nationals.  As tough as Zak is, I do not think he yet has the experience to overcome Lucas Lepri.  Lucas and teammate Langhi have essentially owned this division over the last few years, closing out a high percentage of the tournaments that they enter.

The other semifinal should be Augusto “Tanquinho” Mendes vs Philippe Della Monica.  Aside from the Alliance duo and Torres, I think that Tanquinho has the best shot at winning this division.  If Tanquinho can get by Della Monica (who is a great competitor and would be an extremely tough fight for anyone), he could beat Lucas Lepri.

 

Medio

This was last year’s most exciting division with Kayron Gracie, Abmar Barbosa, and Sergio Moraes stealing the show.  Unfortunately this year’s edition won’t have Gracie and Moraes.  But that doesn’t mean that the quality will go down.

In bracket 1 there is a possible semifinal between Kayron’s Cousin Clark and Claudio Calasans.  Prior to last year, Calasans had been under most jiu jitsu fan’s radars.  But after winning both his division and absolute at the Abu Dhabi Pro, many took notice.  His one setback last year was a finals loss to Marcelo Garcia at the mundials.  But Claudio has bounced back strong since then and recently done well at the trials for the Abu Dhabi Pro.  Look for him to continue his winning ways as the favorite of this division.

The 2nd bracket looks to be the toughest in this division with Gilbert “Durinho” Burns, Abmar Barbosa, and Lucas Leite all sharing the same side.  The Durinho vs Barbosa quarterfinal is an extremely tough one to call.  Gilbert usually fights a weight class below and Barbosa’s jiu jitsu has reached new heights in the past year.  The winner of that should face Leite in the semifinals.

 

Medio Pesado

The return of Andre Galvao!  “Deco” has been away from bjj competition for a couple years now but has finally decided to come back.  He entered the Abu Dhabi Pro trials a couple weeks ago and came back with a vengeance!  He won his weight and got 2nd in the absolute.  These results show that Andre hasn’t missed a beat in his jiu jitsu.  But the Abu Dhabi pro fights are 7 minutes long while IBJJF black belt fights are 10 minutes in length.  Let’s see if this makes any difference.  Regardless I see Andre as the favorite here.

Andre’s side of the bracket seems to be the “easier” of the 2.  The interesting match up here could be Andre vs Marcel Louzado in the semifinals as these 2 use to be teammates at Brasa.  In fact Marcel was Andre’s partner in several of Andre’s books and DVD’s.

The other favorite in my eyes is Otavio Sousa.  He is last year’s champion and places well at all the major events.  Otavio’s first fight should be against Alliance ace Ian McPherson.  This is Ian’s first major tournament as a black belt, but don’t let that fool you as he has been beating up black belts for years.  This is a very tough first for Otavio.  On the other side of Otavio’s bracket there is a lesser known but still a very tough competitor in Marcos Souza.  Marcos is the Asian Open Absolute Champion and beat JT Torres at that tournament.  I have never seen him compete live and am not sure if he has ever come to the States to fight, this will be a curious one to watch.

In the end the finals should be Otavio vs Andre.  Both play a fast paced jiu jitsu game so fans should try not to blink when this match goes on!

 

Pesado

This is an extremely loaded pesado bracket.  Almost every major pesado player (main missing competitor is Alexandre Ribeiro) is here in Irvine for Pan Glory!  On one side of the bracket we have both Ricardo “Demente” Abreu and Rodolfo Vieira.  These 2 will have tough fights trying to face each other in the finals with Leo Nogueira and Leo Itturalde in their way. 

Demente is famous for being the only person not to get submitted by Roger Gracie at last year’s worlds (actually he is the only person not to get submitted by him in the last 2 years – this includes MMA as well).  This in its own is an amazing feat as Roger has been almost untouchable in the gi.

Vieira is a rising star in the jiu jitsu world.  He burst onto the scene 2 years ago as brown belt winning the Abu Dhabi Pro.

On the other side of the bracket the 2 favorites there should be Roberto Alencar and Bernardo Faria.  Bernardo is last year’s weight and absolute champion.  He also won the 2010 pesado division at the mundials.

Alencar has been on the scene for a few years now and is always a game competitor.  He recently won the Arizona Open.

Faria vs Alencar will be an INTENSE fight.  Both love the showmanship and mad dogging that go with intense battles.  This is one that fans should look forward to seeing!

 

Super Pesado

If there is a division with a clear cut favorite it would have to be found here, and he would be Marcus “Buchecha” Almeida.  This Rodrigo Cavaca black belt has been on an absolute tear that last few years and he isn’t even a year old in his black belt career!

Marcus should meet Orlando Zanetti in the semifinals.  Zanetti is not well known to bjj fans in the states.  But he has been very successful in the local Brazilian circuits; he could be a thorn in Buchecha’s side.

The other side of the bracket we should see Bruno Bastos get by his opponents and make it to the finals against Buchecha.

 

Pesadissimo

Only 5 big boys came to play but all are serious contenders for the title.

We start things off with Stephen “Pesadelo Triangulo” Hall vs Luiz “Big Mac” Theodoro.  Hall seems to compete at every single event, whether it be in Europe, Brazil or California, Hall will be there.  Drawing Big Mac in the first fight is quite unlucky.  Not only is the man large he is exceptionally skilled with his stand up, don’t look for Big Mac to pull guard!  I think you will see Hall work from his closed guard.  If somehow he can sweep Big Mac then I think he wins the fight, but that is a huge if.

The winner of that fight faces Antonio Braga Neto in the finals.  Neto won weight and absolute at this event 2 years ago.  If there was a favorite for this division it would have to be him.

The other side of the bracket has a semifinal of Gabriel Vella vs Antonio “Batista” Peinado.  There is a little history between that 2 as Vella use to be Peinado’s teammate at Alliance, in fact they were roommates at one point.

I am hoping for a Peinado vs Braga Neto final as these are the 2 most versatile fighters in this bracket and would be the only final that isn’t a stand up war.  If Vella v Big Mac happens, expect a lot of standing grip fighting.

 

IBJJF Suggestion

Looking through the brackets I wanted to bring up a gripe/suggestion I have for the IBJJF.  First let me give the readers some background.

All brackets except for black belt are randomly generated by computer software.  The one input that the computer has is to put two teammates from the same registered school at opposite ends of the bracket.  This way if they were to face each other it would be in the final.  Keep in mind there is also a rule that only 2 registrants can represent their team.

The black belt brackets are not randomly generated but are done by a group of representative from the main teams.  I believe that they debate and create the brackets the night before the official brackets are released.

My grips is this, why not manually create the brown belt brackets?  Granted there is a significant amount of work and time that would go into this but the brown belts are the future stars of our sport.  I bring this up because of a couple FIRST ROUND matchups that have happened recently.  At last year’s mundials there was a first round fight between Michel Langhi (Alliance) vs Ary Farias (Atos).  Going into the tournament these 2 were the major favorites to win that division.  But due to the randomized computer software these 2 met in round 1!  Aside from the 2 being great rivals we also have the intense rivalry between their respective schools.  This is an atmosphere the fan would love to see in a final.

In this year’s pan we again see another championship first round in the brown belt light division between Jordon Schultz (Alliance) vs Roberto Satoshi (Bonsai).  Satoshi is the reigning mundial champion at this division while Jordon won this at purple belt.  Aside from that these 2 met at this year’s European Championships Final where Satoshi put Schultz to sleep.  I would imagine that Jordon hasn’t forgotten that and wants to get Satoshi back.  Again this would make for an incredible final backdrop. 

Lastly, if these matchups were to happen in the first round it would mean that one of the competitors would not be able to do the absolute.  Remember that in non black belt divisions one must medal in their respective weights to compete in the absolute.  This is done to make sure that amount of people competing isn’t too large.  If I recall correctly, before this rule was put in place the purple belt absolute from a couple years ago had over 110 people.  A lot of the time you have the same favorites at weight as in the absolute.  It would really be unlucky if they met in the first round and one loses by a mere advantage and bam their tournament is over.  Just my 2 cents….