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2011 World Jiu-Jitsu No-Gi Championship





It has been a while!

I have been inconsolable ever since Rickson refused to take a picture with the King and me at his seminar.  I refused to think or do anything jiu jitsu, it was just cookies, cookies, and more cookies!  But this weekend is the No Gi worlds and I knew that the pullingtheline following needed our analysis.


Only 2 competitors in this division and both were the only 2 last year. We have a rematch of Brandon Mullins and Joseph Capizzi.  Like last year I see Brandon taking this one.  Aside from sporting a cool nickname, Wolverine, Brandon seems to be the more active competitor.  A couple weeks ago Brandon competed at the US Nationals; though he did not win he had a really tough division that included Caio Terra and Milton Bastos.  Regardless, both Joseph and Brandon will get some hardware this weekend.

Light Feather

The overall favorite has to be Caio Terra.  In the last few years, the bane to Caio’s existence has been Bruno Malfacine– luckily for him, Bruno will not be competing.  Caio has a pretty easy side of the bracket with somewhat of a challenge in Fabio Passos of Alliance, if they meet it will be the categories semifinal.  The other side of the bracket is one of the toughest I’ve seen.   All 4 (Rafael “Barata” Freitas, Henrique Rezende, Milton Bastos, and Laercio Fernandes) have a chance of medaling.  The 2 favorites in my opinion are Laercio from Robot/Lotus BJJ and Milton Bastos from Paragon.  Unfortunately these 2 drew each other in the first round.  Laercio has been coming on the scene the last 2 years.  He has medaled at a lot of the IBJJF events and does hold a win over Caio at last year’s US Nationals.  We should get treated to a rematch of this.


Cobrinha is back!  Didn’t he say he was going to retire this year?  After a controversial loss to Rafa Mendes at the finals of the 2011 ADCC, Rubens “Cobrinha” Charles appears to continue to hold off his retirement.  In a pretty small division, Cobrinha has one fight to make it to the finals.  The 2 favorites in the other end of the bracket are Samir Chantre from Gracie Fighter and Justin Rader – Rafael Lovato’s first black belt.  Justin is the reigning champion in this division.  It is just so hard to bet against Cobrinha when Rafa Mendes isn’t around.  Cobrinha takes this division with 2 submission victories.


3 names stick out here – Lucas Lepri from Alliance, Augusto “Tanquinho” Mendes and Philippe “Furao” Della Monica.  Usually closing out this weight class with his teammate Michael Langhi, Lucas will have to win 3 fights to get that gold around his neck.  Furao vs. Tanquinho will make for a very good semifinal, but in the end Tanquinho will be too much to handle.  It should a Lepri vs. Tanquinho final.  As much as Tanquinho has been on a tear this year, this division still belongs to Lucas.


Now this going to be a great division!  A lot of the division’s big names are in town – Murilo Santana, Clark Gracie, James Harbison, Davi Ramos, and Victor Estima.  James Harbison is a newly promoted black belt but this Lloyd Irvin prodigy accomplished the “Grand Slam” of jiu jitsu this year by winning his weight at the Europeans, Brazilian Nationals, Pans, and Gi Worlds.  This will be his first tournament at black belt and I am excited to see what he can accomplish.

Murilo Santana is a lesser known competitor but those of us who are self proclaimed bjj nerds know all about him!  I see a Murilo vs. Clark Gracie semifinal with the winner of that facing eventual champion Davi Ramos.  Davi has been absolutely amazing as of late.  He is coming off 3 submission wins this year vs. Kayron Gracie, Jeff Monson and Joao Assis.  Known as the “Mike Tyson” of the Atos gym, this should be Davi’s breakout tournament where the rest of the bjj community will finally know his name!

Medium Heavy

How in GOD’s name is Pablo Popovitch a Medium Heavyweight?  Weapon X, as he is fondly called, is huge!  The final here will be Pablo vs. Rafael Lovato.   But before getting to the finals, Rafael should have a war against Otavio “The Hulk” Souza.  I remember watching these 2 compete against each other at the Pan Americans a couple years back.  It was Otavio’s first tournament as a black belt beating Rafael by points.  It was a thrilling fast paced match and I would expect nothing less.

Local Southern California Bjj legend Erik Anderson competes in his first major black belt division.  Those of us who live here know of this man’s accomplishments.  I think he really broke onto the bjj scene last year by medaling at weight and absolute in the Brown Belt Worlds (beating Ian Mcpherson along the way).  To medal at this tournament Erik would need to get through Otavio Sousa.


I have no idea if it’s a typo or not but 2 guys that normally compete at lower weight classes are here – Lucas Leite (Middle) and Marcel Louzado (Medium Heavy).  Lucas is especially surprising as it appears he has jumped up 2 weight classes!  If this is true I would have to put Lucas down as one of the favorites.  He has a game that can and is successful against anyone no matter the size and whether or not it is in the gi.

Robert “Tussa” Alencar is one of the most intense competitors around.   He should face Marcel Louzado in the semifinals.  This would be a rematch from last year’s tournament where Tussa slapped on a last minute triangle for the win – this definitely was the match of the tournament.

Kevin Casey could make some noise as well.  Kevin is always a game competitor and a tough fight for anybody.

Super Heavy

There are 3 favorites here and neither would be a surprise if we see the gold dangling around their neck.  Joao Assis was last year’s best No Gi grappler.  He won the “World's Greatest Grappler” tournament hosted by Grapplers Quest.  Joao is also coming from a silver medal at this year’s edition of ADCC – arguably the most prestigious tournament in the world!  Standing in Joao’s way will be Antonio Peinado and Marcus “Buchecha” Almeida.  Peinado and Assis are on the same side of the bracket.  I for one would like Peinado to win so that Buchecha and Joao do not close out the final – both are teammates at Chekmat.

Ultra Heavy

Usually one of the smallest divisions and this is no exception with 5 competitors in the brackets.  Cyborg has to be the odds on winner here.  Aside from winning his division, look for him to cause waves in the absolute division as well.

Rickson Gracie Seminar

A couple of nights ago, Monstro and I attended Rickson Gracie's seminar at the Gracie Academy ™ in Torrance.  The seminar, a bargain at $100, was announced over email and sold out in two hours.  The academy was big, with a one-room “Gracie Jiu Jitsu Museum ™”, huge locker rooms, and a large mat.  There were Gracies everywhere.  The sons of Rorion that I could identify (Rener & Ralek) looked gigantic in person.  There were 22 black belts in attendance, one red belt instructor (Rickson), and one red belt host (Rorion).

Monstro and I did not arrive with expectations that Rickson would be teaching anything mind blowing, but we were hoping, at the very least, to learn something we could apply to our games, and to get a snap shot of us and Rickson.

I was particularly excited as I trained for six months at Rickson's academy when I first moved to Los Angeles.  During those six months, Rickson made an apperance once, criticized the way someone was doing their forward roll during warm ups, and then left five minutes later.

The Gracies who attended the seminar (please forgive poor photo quality)

The seminar focused on the theoretical concept of “connections”, that is, the points of connection between you and your opponent, and between you and the mat.  At times, Rickson referred to this as the “invisible” jiu jitsu, which is to say that two people could be seemingly applying the same technique with one focusing his energy and weight more efficiently than the other, while looking identical to an observer.

He then applied this theory of connections to a handful of techniques.  After every technique, he asked if there were questions.  There were always questions.  He demonstrated for the person asking the question, and made the student perform the technique until it was performed perfectly.

After working on a bottom side control technique, a black belt (training close to Monstro and I) asked Rickson for clarification.  In short, the black belt was asking if the technique could be performed when his opponent was positioning himself deliberately to thwart the technique.  Rickson said “You’re being naïve.  You’re a black belt, you should know this,” and then explained that, of course, if the person was over committing to defend the technique, he should take advantage of the over commitment.

Black (and red) belts who attended seminar (please forgive poor photo quality)

By the end of the seminar, we understood the theoretical concept, we understood how it was applied in practice, and we were equipped to look for places in our game to apply it.

Rickson gave a talk after class*, and got choked up as he described how happy he was to reconnect with his family.  He explained how he always kept in touch, but it had been a long time since they had taught or trained or exchanged techniques.  He also announced that he was, in effect, semi-retired and had no interest running an academy anymore.  He planned on teaching seminars one week out of the month, and spending the rest of the time “eating good food”, “surfing”, and spending time with his fiancé.  When asked by one of the Rorion progeny when he would be back, he replied:

“After I’ve spent some time in Prianha..surfing.”  (Monstro and I exchanged glances as we had been to Prianha a couple of times when visiting Rio.  It is, perhaps, the most beautiful beach in the world.)

The biggest disappointment was that after pictures were taken, they did not allow any personal pictures with Rickson.  Monstro was inconsolable, so I cheered him up with a bag of Famous Amos chocolate chip cookies, and promised him I would photoshop us and Rickson together as proof that we attended the seminar.

*A spectator, I don’t know what he thought he was doing, started filming Rickson behind and a little beside him until Rickson angrily said “Hey…Get out of here!  Please!”

The Top Ten Reasons Why Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Sucks

10 - Injuries:  If you are looking for a low impact sport that you can participate with limited injuries for the rest of your life, I would highly recommend swimming.  BJJ, on the other hand, will beat the hell out of your body.  If you take this sport seriously, you will have a long list of nagging injuries that will most likely get progressively worse until you die an excruciatingly slow and painful death.  Your ears will make small children cry and run away.  You will wince with pain upon standing, sitting, and shaking hands.  Sure, we’ve all seen videos of Helio wearing a gi well into his 90s, however, he knew how to submit his own injuries (one of the key differentiators between Gracie Jiu Jitsu™ and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu), and even managed to wrist lock the icy hand of Death a few times.  As for the rest of us, we can assume that our fingers, knees, backs, and shoulders will be mangled beyond repair before we ever join the AARP.

9 - Cleaning Gis:  They are big, bulky, take a long time to air dry, are prone to smelling bad, and because of our archaic notion of gender roles, it is frowned upon for men to wear pink ones with Hello Kitty patches.

8 - Hang Nails:  I have a pair of nail clippers at home, work, and in the car because the rough gi material rubs my cuticles in the opposite direction, frequently creating bloody hangnails that open up in the middle of sparing sessions and polka dot my opponent’s gi with red spots which leads to juvenile jokes and tittering.

7 - Poorly Groomed Teammates:  Every academy has a couple of dirty motherfuckers who do not wash their gis, clip their nails, stay home when they are sick, seek out medical treatment for their infectious diseases, bath regularly, wash their hands after toileting, and are generally nasty and disgusting human beings that walk around in a cloud of filth and stink.  Unfortunately, there is no way to avoid very close, intimate contact with these nauseating individuals who will catch you on a bad day, mount you, and rain down greasy sweat into your mouth just as you are gasping for a breath of foul air.  Afterwards, your gi is forever tainted with a stench that will permeate everything in your house until you go on a journey with a bunch of Ninikos and toss it into the pit of Mount Doom.

6 - Argentina:  Brazilian Jiu Jitsu originated in Brazil, and Brazil is a South American country next to Argentina, and Argentina is full of whores, Nazis, thieves and paranoid schizophrenics.  It is a seriously awful place where people have no souls.  They are backwards, un-evolved, raving lunatics.   I have to assume that some Argentineans successfully fled to Brazil over the years, and that alone is enough of an ugly stain on our sport that we can never fully wash away until we have hunted them down and evicted them from our ranks.

5 - BJJ Causes Body Image Issues:  Prior to training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, I was in pretty good shape with a naturally muscular build.  Seven years later, I am in pretty good shape with a naturally muscular build, and I wake up every morning and spend ten minutes calling myself “Fatty fatty fat fat” in the mirror before taking a shower because I know that if the Shiek called with a last minute spot at Abu Dahbi, I wouldn’t be able to cut enough weight to make it to the Medio weight class without risking kidney failure.  Also, when I see the slightest bulge in the sides of my abdomen, I feel morbidly obese.

4 - BJJ is Full of Brazilians:  Sometimes, prior to grappling with a Brazilian, he will blow his nose inside his gi to clear his nostrils.  This is the South American alternative to the breath right (TM).  In addition to using their gis as hankies, Brazilians are known for cheating as refs, and for being inexplicably bad at running their academies, tournaments, and organizations.  The Brazilians that came to the United States to teach and train are generally the cream of the crop when it comes to the sport of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, however, God endowed them with powers of grappling, not powers of business.

3 - BJJ Has Limited Stand Up:  We’ve all heard that a high majority of street fights end up on the ground, and additionally, if one of the street fighters wants to take the fight to the ground, it will probably go to the ground (because Joe Citizen does not come home after a 12-hour shift at the plant and start working on his takedown defense).  Great.  We can all pat ourselves on the back for making a rational decision to participate in this martial art.  We can also agree that Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, in general, does a terrible job of instructing stand up self defense/fighting.  If I was in a hand to hand combat situation, and my options were knowing BJJ, Wrestling, or Thai Kickboxing, my first option would not be BJJ.  This is tragic because in an ideal world, BJJ would be incorporating the best of Judo and Wrestling rather than teaching people to flop on their backs.

2- Scoring System:  From what I understand, the original scoring system in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu was created based on street fighting.  The number of points awarded to competitors relate to the dominance of the position.  In a street fight, if you are mounted or back mounted, you are in deep trouble, so maximum points (4) are awarded.  If your guard is passed, you are in somewhat less trouble, so three points are awarded.  Etc.

These days, most competitions begin with someone pulling guard.  If I didn’t know Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and I was fighting someone in a parking lot who jumped on me with their legs wrapped around my waste like a deranged monkey, my first thoughts would be “Am I being sexually assaulted?  Was this person raised by baboons?  Why did I get into a bar fight over Justin Bieber’s sexual orientation in the first place?”  And then my natural reaction would be to slam the motherfucker on his back and head, which would most likely open his guard and/or knock him out, and then I would then do to him what the U.S. Congress is doing to the American people, and give him a little going away present.

The only way to fix scoring in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is to penalize a person a couple of points for pulling guard.  The only argument I see against this is that Brazilian Jiu Jitsu developed the guard and should, therefore, promote its use.  To follow this argument to its logical conclusion, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu should not strive to be the “best” or “most effective” martial art, but to carve out it’s on unique space.  Judo recently changed their rules to stimy wrestlers and jiu jitsu players from scoring takedowns in their competitions.  It was an attempt to preserve the "Judoness" of Judo matches.  I am sure it will accomplish this goal.  I am sure it will also be a disservice to all people that learn Judo as it will not prepare them for other disciplines.

1 - BJJ is Addictive:  Brazilian Jiu Jitsu sucks, quod erat demonstrandum, yet I am powerless to quit. 










Substitute Teaching Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

What follows is the actual transcript of a series of text messages between me and my first Brazilian Jiu Jitsu instructor, Napolean, who introduced me to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.):

Me:  Just finished teaching my first class.

Napoleon:  Howd [sic] it go

Me:  OK, but I have a lot to learn

Napoleon:  Try to call at least one student a dumbfuck each class.  That way they know how they are doing.  Students like the intructors [sic] feedback.  Just like slaves or prisoners.

Me:  If there is one thing I learned from your teaching method is that students learn best when they are ridiculed

Napoleon:  And spat upon…

Me:  I prefer to go number three on them, but I have a lot to learn

Napoleon:  WTF is number 3?

Captain Caveman is out of town for a week, and he asked me to take over his classes - three gi and two no gi.  The classes are very small, but it has been a great opportunity to practice articulating techniques, and has been a lot of fun.  For my first class, I taught the most basic sweep in the book - The Scissors Sweep.  For my second gi class, I taught a couple of techniques from the sit up series - the Sit Up Sweep and the Sit Up Sweep to the Gullotine.  I had a few visitors from our sister school show up in support which was really cool.

Speaking of which, congratulations to Monstro and Wildcat on their engagement.  Their children will submit us all.

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.



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.



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.



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!



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.



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.



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.



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!

2011 Brazilian Jiu Jitsu World Championships (Mundials) – The BJJ Cynic

The 2011 IBJJF Worlds (Mundials) are one week away!  This is the largest, and the most prestigious Brazilian Jiu Jitsu tournament of the year.  As many of you are aware, the lack of age groups creates huge brackets where some blue belt divisions have more competitors than a Rio favela has drug dealers.  There is an unconfirmed rumor floating around that, to save time, competitors of Brazilian origin will receive direct byes into the finals, begin with a four-point advantage, and be allowed to punch with a closed fist.  The IBJJF has neither confirmed nor denied these rumors, so we at suggest all competitors change their last name to “Gracie” post haste!

Assuming you are part of the leisure class, the Mundials are pocket change at $126 USD.  For the rest of you proletariats, this might sound like a lot of money, but let’s put it into perspective.  You can either register for Worlds or buy a bottle of 1997 Mascarello Barolo.  And who doesn’t purchase “Barolos” by the case and have them shipped via courier in climate and humidity controlled rail containers?  What are Brazilian Jiu Jitsu athletes if not sophisticated wine connoisseurs with collections they are willing to liquidate?  At what point did I begin asking so many rhetorical questions?

I’m not one to complain about the cost (or to suggest that perhaps the IBJJF might want to at least consider parlaying some of their massive profits into a better web site and referees) but $10 for the privilege of watching white and blue belts on Day 1?  The IBJJF should be paying me upon entering, handing me a complimentary Acai smoothie, and giving me VIP access to the “Hot Chicks Room.”  Are they aware of the tedium that is watching (no offense to any of my teammates, because I’m not talking about you – seriously bros, you guys are special, and I’d watch you compete, I’m just busy that day) a bunch of half baked Brazilian Jiu Jitsu padwans?  Yes, it is charming, at first, to watch neophyte after neophyte burn their grips in the first minute and dance around clutching each other’s lapels like a 2am frat house bar fight, yet is this really worth a couple of sawbucks?  Pro tip – Purchase a black belt online, rush the gate, waive it the face of the ticket taker, and find a place near the top of the bleachers to take a nap.

When did I become so cynical?  Ahh yes, I became so cynical when I turned 34 and my entire body began to break down all at once, save for my bionic vision, which has given me uncanny insight into my longevity in this sport.  My knee is hosed!  My groin has been pulled beyond repair!  My fingers are mangled!  The only way I stand a chance against some of the up and coming pre-adults in our kids class is when I feign injury and ruthlessly latch onto heel hooks.  I am the ghost of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu future, and I am not one of God’s beautiful creatures!

I’m mostly kidding.  I needed to shake off the cobwebs and get some of that cynicism out of my system in advance of the 2011 Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Mundials.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited as hell that this major tournament is in my backyard.  Next week, I will be taking a (somewhat) serious look (not really, but at least not as cynical, I promise) at what it means to compete in a major tournament in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, the best damned sport on the planet ™. 

Monstro!!!!!!!!!!  It’s time for your picks!  The Brazilian Jiu Jitsu community waits with baited breath for your insight and cogent analysis.

Nihil Novi Sub Sole

If you train BJJ long enough, you will most likely stumble upon, and “invent” a new technique that you have never seen before.  Odds are, you are not a pioneer of the sport, your last name is not Gracie, you live on the third (rather than the tenth) planet, and you have “invented” a move that has existed since the golden age of grappling when men fought in the nude.  While you could always claim the technique as your own, name it the Hello Kitty, and tell everyone you know that you invented it, BJJ etiquette demands that you at least conduct a cursory online search before writing your new book and touring the world conducting seminars.

A couple weeks back, Monstro discovered a cool back take, refined it, and while none of the black belts at the academy had ever seen it before, assumed that the technique belonged to someone else.  After some research, Monstro found the technique on YouTube being taught by Eduardo "Teta" Rios.

What is the difference between invention and discovery?  There are certain techniques that logically follow, and there is no doubt in my mind that people have (re)discovered them hundreds of times.  For example, Lloyd Irvin’s “mousetrap” makes sense to anyone that knows the Americana and the Kimura, and has attempted these techniques from side control.  I highly doubt that Professor Irwin was the first BJJ player to figure this out, and I highly doubt, even for his penchant for self promotion, that he would claim to be the “inventor.” Other techniques are unquestionably more innovative and creative, and regardless of who put the BJJ puzzle pieces together first, kudos to everyone who figured it out.

So, while in my mind, it was “Monstro’s Back Take Counter ‘aka Steal the Cookie’…” for a couple of weeks, it will be filed away as the generic “Back Take Counter.”  You can watch both Monstro and Teta teach the move here.


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.





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.



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!



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. 


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.



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!



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.



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….

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



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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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.

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)

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