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Tournament News BJJ

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Tournament News

  • Aftermath: IBJJF No-Gi World Championship

    Just like every other year, the jiu-jitsu season closes with the IBJJF No-Gi World Championship before the holidays. The no-gi scene is always interesting to follow because usually the roster of competitors is different from gi. For one, athletes like Rafael Mendes and Buchecha usually don’t make an appearance. This being said, there are many top athletes that do compete in both, but the results are not always consistent. Let’s take a quick look at what happened at the black belt male adult division this year.

    BLACK / Adult / Male / Rooster

    What more can be said about Caio Terra in this division? He is the king of the castle with his now, 9th straight title since 2008! Although it would be nice to see him compete more in gi and no-gi invitational events, Caio is pound-for-pound one of the best no-gi grapplers on the planet.

    BLACK / Adult / Male / Light Feather

    Last year, Joao Miyao was the king of this division and I’m sure he was expecting to continue the streak, however, he ran into the worst guy he possibly could, someone who had defeated him three times already in 2016 prior to the no-gi worlds, young 21-year old phenom, Michael Musumeci. Expect to see Musumeci stay on top of this division in both gi and no-gi in the years to come.

    BLACK / Adult / Male / Feather

    This year a vacancy for the gold medal was left in this division with the absence of Tanquinho. So, as naturally one would predict, the silver medalist from 2015, Osvaldo Moizinho, was able to bump his ranking to first place and become the 2016 no-gi world champion. Additionally, his teammate, Samir Chantre took second.

    BLACK / Adult / Male / Light

    Here we have all new names with the championship crown shifting from Alliance to Nova Uniao. In 2015, veteran Michael Langhi made an outstanding return and won the gold. Now, in 2016, Marcio Andre overcame Rodrigo Freitas in the finals. It can easily be said that this is Andre’s best year yet with victories, especially since he also won the Abu Dhabi World Pro.

    BLACK / Adult / Male / Middle

    Once again we have a big change in names with a totally new podium standing. In 2015 the podium was full with competitors from Lloyd Irvin, Alliance, Gracie Barra and Checkmat – a huge variety. However this year, silver and bronze medals all went to Alliance with only the gold medal going to Marcelo Mafra of Checkmat.

    BLACK / Adult / Male / Medium Heavy – Ultra Heavy

    Yuri Simoes, who was able to take double gold for both the Ultra heavyweight and open class, was the standout star of the upper weight divisions. However, these results are no surprise since his win in 2015 at the ADCC. The training he went through in preparation for this tournament launched his skills to the next level. Expect to see him dominate the division for the time being.




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  • Aftermath: Copa Podio Heavyweight Grand Prix 2016

    This last weekend we witnessed another edition of the Copa Podio Grand Prix – arguably one of the most exciting jiu-jitsu spectating events on the planet. What makes it so exciting is the intensity at which it makes the athletes compete. It is set up in a group layout where athletes have to face everyone in their group in a round-robin format.

    In the opening round things were pretty even, but Leandro Lo was able to have the most dominant performance of the evening with a 2-0 win over Isaque Bahiense. Erberth Santos, the other star to watch in this tournament, had a much harder win over Cassio Francis with a three advantage score. The other performances in this round were good and competitive – there were no easy wins.

    The second round was significantly better since two of the four matches ended in submission and the other two matches were clean point victories for Diego Borges and Alexander Trans. Leandro Lo won his match by submission (toehold) and Felipe Trovo won his match by triangle over Isaque Bahiense.

    As the tournament progressed into the third round, Nelton Pontes and Alexander Trans were able to win their matches without giving up a point. Both earned 2-0 wins over Diego Borges and Rodrigo Cavaca, respectively. Isaque Bahiense defeated Cassio Frances 5-2 and Erberth Santos defeated Felipe Trovo with a toehold in an awesome match where Trovo used an escape from Santos’ sidemount that immediately transitioned into a crucifix.

    As the rounds progressed, the stamina of the athletes began to understandably wane, which means that only the best-conditioned of them stood a chance. This became evident as fewer points were scored in the fourth round and only Alexander Trans and Leandro Lo were able to dominate their matches, with a 9-0 win for Trans and an 8-0 win for Lo. The other matches were decided via advantages.

    In the fifth round things started to get dangerous as two of the matches ended in unfortunate injury. Both Cassio Francis and Erberth Santos were unable to continue, giving Felipe Trovo and Leandro Lo the easy pass to the semi-finals. This is also very unfortunate to the fans since Leandro Lo versus Santos was supposed to be the most anticipated match of the event. There was no doubt they will fight again, most likely in a superfight at another Copa Podio.

    It came down to Leandro Lo versus Alexander Trans, the two favorites of the tournament. The match was competitive and especially entertaining because Trans is considerably larger than Lo. But Lo did not cease to impress and took a 2-0 victory over Trans. Leandro Lo is, without a doubt, one of the best pound-for-pound jiu-jitsu athletes today because he is able to defeat top ultra heavyweight opponents when he is naturally a middleweight competitor.




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  • Copa Podio Heavyweight Grand Prix Preview

    Copa Podio will continue to showcase why it is one the best events in jiu-jitsu with their next Grand Prix. The level of intensity and the level of difficulty that an athlete has to compete at is considerably higher than any other event. For one, the fact that they follow a FIFA style format (ie.- the athlete has to win their group/leg in a round robin style) already tops the difficulty of the bracket style that the IBJJF and UAEJJF use. Of course, Copa Podio is a different kind of event – it focuses a lot more on spectatorship than ranking. However, they are able to accomplish both by putting on a good show and exposing the top talent in the world. The only thing they lack is including all the world champions in their events. It’s a shame that we don’t see Buchecha, Rafa Mendes, Cobrinha and some others, competing in these events more often. If these top athletes competed regularly in Podio, then it really would be, without a doubt, the greatest event. But by having names like Leandro Lo, Erberth Santos, and many others, the competition level is extremely high. One should also try to watch these events live because the vibe is great. Even though the crowd is small (relative to more popular sporting events, like MMA), the intensity is very high and the Brazilians are second to none when it comes to cheering - they treat it like a soccer game – so be sure to get a ticket if you ever have the chance.

    This weekend they are holding their fourth Grand Prix season. In the past, this tournament was dominated by the likes of Rodolfo Vieira, but the current heavyweight champion is Felipe Pena (who will actually not compete in this season) opening the way for Leandro Lo as the favorite. Lo is currently the consecutive 5-time world champion, a 4-time Pan-American champion, and a 5-time Copa Podio grand prix champion at various other weight classes.

    This Copa Podio also marks another special occasion for Lo since he came off a win over rising star Eberth Santos in the last event. The fight was competitive until Lo managed to snag the back of Santos, earning himself the win. The rematch has been highly anticipated and the pressure will be on Lo to defend himself against a fired up Eberth Santos. Erberth is only 22 years old and is hungry to put everyone’s head on his mantle. In this Grand Prix, Lo and Erberth were drawn to be in the same leg, so their match will be inevitable. In fact, the may face each other multiple times if they both make it out of the leg. So once again, with the possibilities of multiple matches like this, it proves how exciting and dynamic Copa Podio can be to spectate.




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  • Preview: IBJJF European Open, Black Belt Adult Male

    Roosterweight Division:

    Here we have a great combination of international players ranging from Europe to Japan to Brazil. The athlete to make the most note of here is Caio Terra. The multiple time world champion will try for another win; the third European championship for the Rio de Janeiro native.


    Light Feather Division:

    It’s safe to say that this division is more stacked than the rooster. We only have a few Europeans competing here, with most of the competitors hailing from Brazil. The athlete to note here is Joao Miyao, who is the 2014 European Champion. Expect the Berimbolo master to inch out all his fights by points, which is his usual manner of victory.


    Featherweight Division:

    Here we have a similarly stacked division as the light featherweight division. However, the title can go to either one of two standout athletes: Paulo Miyao and Marcio Andre. Both competitors are very young and have been competing against each other since blue belt. Like his smaller twin brother, Paulo Miyao favors berimbolo attacks and inching wins by points.

    Marcio Andre has been used to defending aggressive berimbolos for quite some time now. These two are most likely to meet in the finals and it can really go either way.


    Lightweight Division:

    Interestingly enough, this division is usually quite full at other IBJJF grand slam tournaments. This year, it seems that none of the world or pan am champions are present, such as Lucas Lepri or JT Torres. So we have a blend of new athletes and other athletes that don’t compete as often as the top-level guys. The one name I would keep an eye on would be Edwin Najmi who trains non-stop and has some of the best teachers in the world. He has done exceptionally well in the other belt levels and recently competed in Copa Podio. He will surely utilize his experience there at the Europeans - he is the x-factor in this tournament.


    Middleweight + Medium Heavy:

    In the middleweight division, we see a lot more names from the European community. It will be interesting to see which of these new name will dominate in that weight class.

    In the medium heavyweight division, we have Romulo Barral in the mix amongst some lesser known names in the sport.



    This will be one of the more exciting divisions to watch for sure. Why? Because it has Jackson Sousa and Helvecio Penna. Who is Helvecio Penna? He is only the guy that’s 55 years old and still loves to compete in the adult division. He may not win often, but he hangs in there and does what most men his age either dream of doing or are too afraid to do. That being said, expect Jackson Sousa to take the win.


    Super heavyweight + Ultra Heavyweight:

    We have a bunch of new names in the mix in these classes. For the super heavyweight division, expect Erberth Santos to stand out. He is one of the top leaders in the IBJJF point system, 5th place to be exact. He is still new in the black belt division, but is already making waves.




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  • Copa Podio Lightweight Grand Prix Aftermath

    This last weekend, we witnessed Copa Podio’s first event of 2016. Over the last few years, they have strived to put on some of the most exciting matches in jiu-jitsu. The format of their event allows them to create intense matches, especially since athletes need to compete several times in one night to win the Grand Prix. It’s a true test of an athlete’s stamina, technique, and heart.

    One name that always stands out in Copa Podio history is that of Leandro Lo. Since its inception, Lo has been able to dominate the scene. With his fast pace and superior cardio, Lo is able to dominate in this kind of competition. He tires his opponents and always has enough gas to keep going. Even though he likes to dramatize how exhausted he is after every match - he may look like he has nothing left - he always recovers just fine for the following match. 

    This specific Copa Podio event also introduced the team matches. In this case we witnessed the North-Eastern Brazilian team versus the Northern European team. The Europeans were able to win in a huge upset, dominating two of the three matches. From these matches, we found the new star of the night: Espen Mathiesen (who defeated last year’s brown belt world champion). Once again, Copa Podio has shown its ability to shed light on the top talent in the world. These matches were held at the brown belt level, but usually all brown belts that are featured in Copa Podio have a promising future.

    But the team matches were just the appetizer for the night. The stacked lineup for the lightweight grand prix is what everyone was waiting for. Leandro Lo had to defend his title against some of the other top lightweights in the world - namely Davi Ramos, and especially, Lucas Lepri, another multiple time world champion. Davi Ramos is not as decorated in gi, especially since he has spent the last years focusing on MMA, but this focus led him to a spectacular win at the last ADCC. These were the three top names to follow in this line up. 

    The grand prix started off intensely with Lucas Lepri facing Davi Ramos in the first match of the night. For those of you who may not know, Lepri was defeated by Ramos by a jumping armbar in the ADCC. The loss is still quite fresh, so the match was a bit heated. In the end, Lepri, the more decorated gi competitor, was able to overcome Ramos in a close 4-2 win. Leandro Lo defeated Ramos as well, 6-2.

    From here on in, the top names did as expected and dominated strongly until the end. Leandro Lo even enjoyed a 13-0 win over AJ Sousa. Lucas Lepri had a close win over Diego Borges (2-0). In the end, Leandro Lo was able to defeat Lucas Lepri by only 2 points in a very tough match. Usually at IBJJF tournaments, Lucas Lepri actually competes and lightweight and Leandro Lo competes at middleweight, so Lo did come in at the heavier weight.




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  • Preview: Copa Podio Lightweight Grand Prix 2016

    It’s a new year and that means a lot of new and exciting events. Every year, Copa Podio improves their roster and the quality of their events. To kick off 2016, Copa Podio is holding a jam-packed event with some big names. 

    To start, Copa Podio is having a ‘team’ dispute, consisting of three fights between Norway and a specific territory of Brazil. Representing Norway are Espen Mathiesen, Tommy Langaker, and Ida Floisvik. For Brazil, we have Yan Pica-Pau, Rafael Vasconcelos, and Kessy Pereira. 

    The truth is, these are all new names but it’s interesting to see how the Norwegian team will fare. Northern Europeans are known for their athleticism and strength. So even though in jiu-jitsu matches Brazilians are usually the favorites, one shouldn’t expect it to be a clean win for Brazil -  expect at least one upset. 

    The real draw for this event is the lightweight grand prix, which literally has the best names in the game competing. It’s going to be very exciting. The names listed for the grand prix are the following:

    Leandro Lo (defending champion)

    Davi Ramos

    Diego Borges

    Lucas Lepri

    Jaime Canuto
    AJ Sousa

    Dillon Danis

    Edwin Najmi

    Luan Carvalho

    Felipe Silva

    Now, the three main names to look out for here are Leandro Lo, Davi Ramos, and Lucas Lepri. These are literally the top guys in the game right now. Both Davi Ramos and Lucas Lepri usually compete at a lighter division than Leandro Lo at IBJJF tournaments, in this case however, they wouldn’t have to cut much weight because this is a 77 kg division.

    Lucas Lepri is a multiple time world champion and is best known for his methodical, practical, and precise game. He prefers pressure passing than speed passing, unlike Leandro Lo who uses his speed and stamina to get his guard passes. What makes this even more interesting is that Lucas Lepri is coming off a highlight-reel loss to Davi Ramos at the last ADCC. In the finals, Lucas Lepri was sitting in open guard and Davi Ramos was standing. In the blink of an eye, Davi Ramos jumps over Lepri’s legs and straight into a super tight armlock. This submission will be in jiu-jitsu highlight reels forever. Surely, Lucas Lepri will be looking for revenge in this event, which will make things only more heated (even though Lepri’s loss was in no-gi and this event is gi).

    Some other names to look out for in this grand prix are Diego Borges, who is a very dangerous veteran, and Edwin Najmi, a very talented new black belt from Romulo Barral’s academy.






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  • Cool Match-ups To Look Forward To (Part 2)

    Rodolfo Vieira vs Keenan Cornelius (gi) 

    We’ve seen this match before at Copa Podio when Keenan was a brown belt. Rodolfo is known as one of the best guard passers in the game, but it took quite a bit of effort to pass Keenan’s guard to get the win. Now, a few years later, it will be interesting to see how they do against each other. Keenan is not only more experienced now, but he is also stronger and brings a variety of unique guard techniques to the competitive mats. 

    Surely Rodolfo is training to pass every guard possible, but it’s hard to find partners that can mimic someone like Keenan. Hopefully we can see this match in the absolute division in the world championships, and if not, it would be a great fight for a pro invitational competition.


    Gary Tonon vs AJ Agarzarm (no-gi) 

    Gary Tonon and AJ Agazarm are two of the top Americans in the game today, along with competitors like Rafael Lovato, JT Torres and Keenan Cornelius. What makes this match so great is that both these guys are about the same weight and both have been doing very well in their no-gi divisions. Tonon has been very active, recently fighting in several invitational tournaments in the USA, and AJ Agazarm has already won the world title. They are also very exciting fighters, so we wouldn’t expect a lot of the stalling you would usually see at the heavier weights. 


    Cobrinha vs Rafael Mendes (no-gi)

    One of the biggest rivalries in jiu-jitsu is between these two; Cobrinha, the ageless warrior, versus the phenom, Rafa Mendes. Ever since Rafa was young, he became Cobrinha’s biggest hindrance to enjoying many years of complete dominance in the featherweight division. This rivalry trickled into no-gi as well, but Cobrinha was always able to fare a bit better against Rafa. The matches between these two are so intense, that whether it’s gi or no-gi, there will always be fireworks. Rafa has already sealed his dominance in the gi  division with five world titles and armbarring Cobrinha at the Pan Ams. Nothing like this has happened in no-gi just yet, so it would be interesting to see what would happen now, especially with Cobrinha’s recent ADCC gold victory.




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  • Cool Match-ups To Look Forward To (Part 1)

    With most of the major tournaments this year at a close, most of us jiu-jitsu nerds start to think about the kinds of matches we will want to see either in the remainder of this year or in 2016. Looking at the results of the Worlds, Pan Ams, Metamoris, Copa Podio, Five, and Abu Dhabi events (ADCC, World Pro and Grand Slam), there are more than a few match-ups we can come up with that would be very entertaining going forward, both gi and no-gi. 

    Lucas Lepri vs Rafael Mendes (gi) 

    Even though Lepri is a category heavier than Rafa, it’s not a huge difference in weight. Both these guys are as technical as you can get, and it would be insane to see what happens if they were to square-off. Lepri brings an extremely heavy and well-balanced top game, which could be a big difficulty for Rafa who prefers to play bottom with his dela riva and berimbolo sweeps. As seen with someone like Augusto Mendes, it could be a problem. So the interesting thing would be to see how Rafa could overcome such a strong guard passer like Lepri. Rafa doesn’t do the absolute division and Lepri probably can’t and wouldn’t cut down in weight, so something like this would have to happen in a pro invitational tournament like Metamoris, Polaris, Copa Podio, or Five Super League.

    Erberth Santos vs Buchecha (gi) 

    Once upon a time, Buchecha used to be that young hungry guy that was going to come eat your lunch and take your world title if you weren’t careful enough. Surely enough he came and took it away from Rodolfo Vieira – who we all thought was unstoppable. Erberth Santos has the potential to be that bully in the absolute division. He is young, confident, and trains super hard. A Brazilian from Lloyd Irvin’s team who is full of energy - it would be very exciting to watch him square off against Buchecha, who is also very energetic. Both these guys are giants, so it’s always entertaining to watch them move like cats. Buchecha would definitely be the favorite, but it wouldn’t be a good match if there wasn’t that guy with the x-factor like Santos. Considering that they are in the same category, we could easily see this at the Worlds or Pan Ams next year. 

    Keenan Cornelius vs Felipe Pena (gi) 

    These two have already faced off at the World Pro, with Keenan just barely taking the win. These guys were made to fight each other. They are both similarly built, they are both hungry for the win, but their styles are different, which makes the match very interesting. While Cornelius is still the more unpredictable competitor, I think Pena will always keep him on his toes, so we will see Keenan go to his limits. Hopefully this match will happen often considering they are close in weight. This match would be just as interesting in no-gi as well. Both competitors made it to the finals of their weight category at the 2015 ADCC.




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  • Aftermath: Abu Dhabi Grand Slam Tokyo

    On the same weekend as the ADCC in Sao Paulo, on the other side of the globe, Abu Dhabi’s love for jiu-jitsu continued with its first of four major tournaments in Tokyo. The United Arab Emirates Jiu-Jitsu Federation (UAEJJF) has planned a seasonal grand slam series that will not only help elevate the status of the sport, with its top-notch organization and TV broadcasting, but also provide prize money for black belt medalists. 

    The series is to be held in areas that the UAEJJF considers to be the hubs for jiu-jitsu around the globe, each in a different corner of the world; Tokyo for Asia, Los Angeles for North America, Rio de Janeiro for Brazil, and London for Europe.

    Even though many of the top athletes were busy with the no-gi spectacle of the ADCC in Sao Paulo, the Tokyo Grand Slam was successful in attracting the likes of Marina Ribeiro, Celsio Vinicius, Gregor Gracie, Mike Fowler, Faisal Al Ketbi, Lagarto, Erberth Santos, Clark Gracie, Rodrigo Caporal, homeland favorite – Roberto Satoshi, and many others. 

    They crowned their first absolute champion with Erberth Santos, beating Lagarto twice. Erberth Santos is one of the top future ultra weights to monitor right now. He is only 21 years old and is doing remarkably well. It’s extremely exciting to ponder how he will fare against the other top athletes as time passes. It will also be interesting to see if he will be able to win the other three Grand Slams and become a kind of “grand champion”. 

    In addition to creating these awesome additional prize money tournaments, the UAEJJF will implement a ranking system that will give bonus prize money if you are highly ranked. The point system will take into account all the tournaments under the UAEJJF, this includes the global trials for the World Pro, the Grand Slam tournaments, and the World Pro itself (held in Abu Dhabi). However, it should be noted that you earn more rank points depending on the prestige of the tournament. So for example, you could win 3 trial tournaments, but you would gain more points if you win just one grand slam. The entire premise here, ultimately, is to further develop the struggling ‘profession’ of jiu-jitsu. Imagine a world where jiu-jitsu players had a chance to travel the world to make a living just training and competing. 

    Right now, people are complaining that the $2,000 USD prize money for the gold medalist is a joke. Sure, it doesn’t compare to boxing or even MMA. But if you’re complaining about the amount of prize money given, then maybe you should help the cause. Get more people to compete in these tournaments. If the tournaments grow, so will the prize money. At the end of the day, any tournament must be a sustainable business. Boxing and MMA pay out more because they have a spectatorship relative to the size of the paycheck. If you don’t like the prize money, get more people to watch jiu-jitsu too. If everyone does their part, we will most likely see our children making decent money in the sport. 




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  • ADCC 2015 Brazil Aftermath

    Considered to be the most prestigious no-gi grappling tournament ever, Brazil hosted this Abu Dhabi Combat Club for the second time. The first ADCC Brazil was especially memorable for many because of the revelation of Marcelo Garcia, Eddie Bravo, Leo Vieira and many more. 

    In the women’s division, we have Mackenzie Dern continuing her dominance this year with another win over her rival, Michelle Nicolini. The matches are always close, but she was able to scrape out the win because Nicolini had a penalty, similar to the situation with Gabi Garcia back at the World Pro earlier this year. In the heavier women’s division, Ana Laura Cordeiro took home the gold. 

    In the men’s categories, starting with the heaviest division, Orlando Sanchez stepped up and took the gold against Jared Dopp. This division was really wide open with no real favorites, except for perhaps Vinny Magalhaes (another ADCC veteran). 

    In a very stacked 99 kg division, Rodolfo Vieira was able to scrape out a win by judges decision over fellow Copa Podio champion, Felipe Pena. Both finalists had to win over the likes of Xande Ribeiro, Joao Assis, and Hector Lombard. 

    In the 88 kg division, we had the two favorites come out on top in the finals, with Yuri Simoes claiming gold. He beat the ever-so-dangerous Keenan Cornelius with a strong 3-0 points victory. Other grapplers to note here were Romulo Barral and bronze medalist, Rustam Chsiev. 

    The 77 kg division featured one of the best submissions you will ever see, especially in a finalist match. Davi Ramos had been off the jiu-jitsu grid for quite some time. He had diverted his attention more towards MMA, and as a result, no one really thought he would have the ability to stay at the pinnacle of the sport. But in the same tournament, not only did he submit Gilbert Burns with a rear naked choke, he also caught Lucas Lepri with a flying armbar! He jumped over Lucas’ guard and straight into a super tight armbar, giving him the instant tap. To pull off something like that at this high a level is astonishing. It will run in grappling highlight reels for a long time. 

    The 66 kg division didn’t see any surprises. Rubens ‘Cobrinha’ Charles took home the gold with wins over other favorites Bruno Frazatto and Augusto Mendes. Cobrinha doesn’t cease to amaze as he gets older - he doesn’t seem to slow down at all. 

    The coveted absolute title this year went to a smaller than usual champion. Claudio Calasans was able to earn one of the most prestigious titles in grappling with a win over Gabriel Rocha. The division showcased other talents from the rest of the tournament, like Rodolfo Vieira, Rafael Lovato Jr, Vinny Maghalaes, Yuri Simoes, and others. 



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