Every year, the entire jiu-jitsu community looks forward to seeing who will become the next world champion, especially at the black belt level. This year, the results are a blend of obvious answers but also a few surprises along the way.
No surprises here. We have almost the exact same results as last year, except Rafael Freitas from Gracie Barra is the new bronze medalist along with Ivaniel Oliveira who wins bronze again. But it’s Bruno Malfacine who is most impressive here, once again winning the title for a seventh time defeating Joao Miyao yet again in the finals (albeit in a controversial referee’s decision). But at this pace, it’s only a matter of time until Joao will win his title. Bruno will be a tough opponent to defeat, but without Caio Terra in the division for the time being, Miyao will dominate.
Without Guilherme Mendes in the picture, Paulo Miyao was able to reach his goal of becoming world champion. Although it’s always unfulfilling for fans to see the absence of the defending champion, it does not take away from Paulo’s achievement – although probably in his mind, he is wishing that he could show the world how he would do this year against Gui. This is a thought that every champion keeps in mind when they win the title; did they really take it away from the previously reigning champ? At the moment it looks like it won’t be happening any time soon, as Guilherme chose to retire and spend his time focusing on his gym and his soon-to-be-born baby.
No surprises here whatsoever. The exact same results as last year except we now witness the ascent of Gianni Grippo who placed third, replacing Alberto Paiva from 2014. Mario Reis joins Grippo for bronze and we see Rafa Mendes and Cobrinha battle it out in the finals again, with Rafa coming out on top by 6 points - Cobrinha couldn’t even score a point. However, considering the age gap between the two rivals, Cobrinha doesn’t cease to amaze me. Especially since he is turning 36 years old this year, which makes him 10 years older than Rafa.
Once again, experience dominates “youth”. Neither Michael Langhi nor Lucas Lepri are actually old, but considering they are both 30, it is impressive that they can stay on top and hold the youngsters at bay. Both Alliance members dominated the division and it was Michael Langhi’s turn to take the gold since Lucas Lepri won the division last year, so in a sense they are both 2015 world champions. I wish we could see the two face-off, but we won’t be seeing that outside their academy. JT Torres also makes a re-appearance at the podium as a bronze medalist, a drop from last year because of Michael Langhi’s performance.
Last year, Leandro Lo had won this division. But this year he decided to move up in weight, leaving the crown to this division wide open for the taking. Not surprisingly, Claudio Calasans took it, defeating GF Team’s Vitor Oliveira. Both these competitors are new to the podium this year, bumping down two veterans of the division, Otavio Souza and Victor Estima to bronze.
Medium Heavy Division:
This year we saw a disruption of the division since Leandro Lo moved up in weight. Either Lo didn’t feel like cutting weight or he wanted a greater challenge – but it doesn’t matter since he won anyway, defeating Alliance’s Tarsis Humphreys in the finals to bump Guto Campos down from second place in 2014 to third place.
This would be Lo’s fourth consecutive world championship and there is no telling what he could do next. He had a very strong and successful performance at the Abu Dhabi World Pro against Buchecha – a much larger opponent. If Lo keeps this up, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him trying to contend for the heavyweight title just for kicks. He also competed in the absolute division but fell victim to an armbar from Bernardo Faria from Alliance who ended up winning the entire absolute division.
Craziness here – the return of Xande Ribero. Xande had won his first heavyweight title in 2004, then had lost it to Robert Drysdale. He then dominated yet again for three consecutive years after that. For the following 7 year stretch after that, the division was won by others like Rodolfo Vieira and Bernardo Faria. But this year, there was no Rodolfo and Faria had gone up a division years before. The path for Xande was clear.
Xande did it again, this time beating veteran Lucas Leite in the finals. It’s just amazing to see both these veterans still making it to the finals in impressive fashion. Lucas Leite is especially impressive since he is usually much smaller than his opponents.
Super Heavyweight Division:
This used to be Rodolfo Vieira’s division, but with an injury keeping him out of the scene for 2015, Bernardo Faria was able to take the gold, defeating Gabriel Rocha in the finals. Faria has always been considered one of the top three heavier BJJ fighters in the world alongside Vieira and Buchecha, but has always been bested by those two. This year he had his chance and he took it.
We also have Igor Silva and Yuri Simoes taking third place on the podium. This is Yuri’s second world bronze medal and he is still young. We can expect him to move up through the ranks as the years pass.
Ultra Heavyweight Division:
We have an interesting change here since the former champion, Marcus Almeida Buchecha, had injured himself in the preliminary rounds of the championship. Buchecha has been one of the most dominant champions in history with three consecutive absolute titles. Unfortunately, this year that streak had to end due to the injury. This led way for some new placement amongst the medals with Gabirel Lyrio Lucas taking the gold.
There were no surprises here. With the absence of Buchecha and the usual runner up Rodolfo Vieira, the path was open for the next in line, Bernardo Faria, to take the crown. So without surprise, Trans takes the silver. However, we did see Leandro Lo make a mark in the absolute division, winning the bronze medal. It will be interesting to see how he does in later years and whether there will ever be an absolute champion that is below the heavyweight mark.