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Brown Belt


Small division of only 8 entries but both finalists from this year’s pans are competing: Darrison Hemmings and Henry Iribe.  They should get competition from last year’s bronze medalist Guilherme Mori of Nova Uniao.

Light Feather

The division ruled by the Miyao monsters.  Can anyone in this division not get berimbolo’d by these 2 gym rats?  They’ve been spending a lot of time with the Mendes Brothers at their Newport Beach Academy and are training with Atos’s best.  The only one stopping them is Keenan Cornelius in the absolute.  Possible bronze medalists: Johnny Munoz, Pedro Azevedo, and Adam Adshead (Bronze at the 2013 Pans).


With Paulo Miyao dropping down to Light Feather and Victor Genovesi moving up to Light, the favorite will be Gianni Grippo.  First year brown belt Denilson Bischilarri of Atos will also be in the running for Gold.  Semi-unknown Devin Maxwell is a game competitor as well – he took 2nd in the 2012 Pans losing to Gianni.


You know a division is tough when Francisco “Sinistro” Itturalde isn’t even on your “A Team,” as he is representing Alliance International.  The 2 Alliance Ace’s on the main team are Gigi Paiva’s son Victor Genovesi (champion in the Feather weight last year) and Jhonny Souza (took 1st in this division at purple belt last year).  Atos will have a couple very tough fighters here with their Turkish star Ilke Bulut (won Euros this year), Jordon Schultz – who is has been a perennial medalist, and Klober Koike – unknown star in the States but is based in Japan and is a student of the Souza Brothers (Marquinhos and Roberto Satoshi).

Shoyoroll athlete Victor Silverio of GF Team is also in this division and is looking to improve on his Pans Bronze medal.  2013 Pan’s gold medalist Rafael Henrique of Gordo is here to try and grab gold again.  Aj Agazarm the self professed Acai connoisseur will also surely be in the mix.

Other competitors to watch: Gary Tonon (Ricardo Almeida/Gracie Elite), Christian Broadnax (Nova Uniao)


European stalwart Luca Anacoreta is in this division and should triangle several foes.  Alliance has 10 entries from their multiple locations and all appear to be very though led by Paul Schon, Fabio Pulita and Thomas Oyarzun.  Son of well known Carlson Gracie black belt Ricardo Cavalacanti, Romulo Cavalacanti will be tough and could medal.  Champion at the Pans James Canuto of GF Team is also in this field.  Irishman Daragh O’Conaill is another known competitor from his days on Lloyd Irvin’s reality show.  Lookout for Marcos da Silva Tinoco, who 2 years ago got double silver at Purple only losing to then rising start Felipe Pena (now a black belt) in both finals of weight and absolute.

Medium Heavy

Keenan Cornelius.  Seriously who can stop him?  Time and time again he has proven to us that he is just on another level.  But don’t be fooled there will still be lots of good fights here with competitors such as: Matheus Diniz (Alliance), Manuel Diaz (Caio Terra), Kit Dale (Checkmat), Inacio Neto (Gracie Barra)

A matchup that I hope we see would be Keenan vs. Sebastian Brosche of Frontline.  Sebastian came onto the scene a couple years ago as a total unknown and winning 2 gold medals at the Worlds.  Since then he has not been competing as much and from what I heard had focused on his yoga program.  Sebastian has world class judo and an unorthodox style of jiu jitsu that I am curious to see how Keenan would handle.


The buzz in this division is that Checkmat ace Jackson Souza was finally able to get a visa and now the American public will be able to witness his jiu jitsu.  This is the same Jackson Souza whom Lloyd Irvin tried to get to come to the States to face Keenan Cornelius in a $5000 super fight.  Now with visa in hand, let’s hope this match up comes to fruition in the absolute.

Competitors to watch: MMA fighter Luke Rockhold (Checkmat), Justin Tevis (Gracie Barra) a strong wrestler who could surprise folks, Desmond Stockard (Kaijin MMA), Kaue Damasceno (Nova Uniao) who is probably the favorite behind Jackson (that would be a great final), Johannes Wieth (Ribeiro) has won at all belt levels and actually got 2nd here 2 years ago, Roberto Torralbas (Lloyd Irvin) Pan winner this year

Super Heavy

Luke Costello should be the overall favorite.  He has great Judo and a guard that is quite good for a man his size.  His Gracie Barra counterpart Rodrigo Pereria is coming off gold at Pans, these 2 will look to meet in the final.  Standing in their way should be Thiago Ximenes (Alliance), MMA fighter Jeffrey Boudreaux (Roberto Traven) who has medaled as a purple belt at worlds and recently got double gold in the Masters division in the Pans.

Ultra Heavy

Should be a Lloyd Irvin close out with perennial medalist Willie Leonard and Ken Brown.


Black Belt


For years this division has been ruled by Bruno Malfacine and Caio Terra.  Up until this year’s Pans, Bruno had the edge in this rivalry.  Has Caio finally solved the mystery of Mighty Mouse?  We should see another rematch between the 2. 

This division appears to have more entries than it normally does with 20 competitors this year.  The man with the most bronze medals in world’s history, Felipe Costa, is once again competing.  Fabio “Monstrinho” Passos is another very talented competitor but unfortunately he is always in the same bracket as Caio.

Competitors to watch: Brandon “Wolverine” Mullins (Gracie Barra/Draculino),Milton Bastos (Paragon), Koji Shibamoto (Tri-Force)

Light Feather

Is anyone going to bet against Gui Mendes?  Ever since dropping down from feather he has owned this weight class.  No one seems to be able to solve his methodical pressure passing and brabo choke with a guard that’s appears un-passable.  The closest one thus far has been Laercio Fernandes.  This Giva Santana black belt spends most of his time preparing with Cobrinha in LA, I have to believe this is the reason why he registers as Alliance as opposed to Lotus Club.  Laercio has lost by the slimmest of margins to Gui, will this tournament be his breakout?  Getting to the finals will be tough for him as he will most likely be bracketed with Gui’s teammate Ary Farias (whom Laercio beat in the semis last year).  Ary is an incredibly talented competitor and is a favorite to medal.   Samuel Braga, arguably the inventor of the berimbolo, is back to reclaim the thrown he lost.  An underdog in this division to look out for is Gustavo Carpio of Marra Senki.  In years past he has competed up a weight at feather and did fairly well but chose to drop down in 2013.  He has had good results far medaling at the Pans and New York Open.  Old timer Gabriel Wilcox and Samir Chantre are also dangerous opponents, this division will have some great match up.


Will Rafa join Royler as a 4x champion of this division?  Or will Cobrinha beat him to it and take back the featherweight thrown?  Right now Rafa has the edge.  Presently he appears to be just that much better than everyone else in this division.  Getting a rematch will be tough for Cobrinha as he will be bracketed with Augusto Mendes.  Augusto suffered a serious neck injury 2 years ago.  Since rehabbing it he has come back and had very good results – losing by a sweep to Cobrinha at the Pans.  Remember just a short time ago Augusto beat both Rafa and Cobrinha in the same year.  In the mix for bronze will be Mario Reis (Alliance), Osvaldo Mozinho (Caio Terra/Soul Fighters), Wellington “Megaton” Diaz (Gracie Humaita) who again beats father time and has competed in every single edition of the Mundials, Sandro “Batata” Ribeiro (Gordo).


The 2 headed Monster from Alliance is back!  After having US visa issues that kept him out of competition, Michael Langhi has come back strong and assumed his spot beside Lucas Lepri in closing out the Pans this year.  That said they will have a tough time in repeating this feat as Atos has just assembled its own dynamic duo of JT Torres and Roberto Satoshi.  For years now JT has been on the cusp of breaking into the elite of the sport but barely falls short.  Will his recent move to San Diego and training under Andre Galvao get him over that hump?  Since getting his black belt, Japan based Satoshi has shown he can beat the best.

The man who has had great success in recent competitions versus the Alliance duo is Leandro Lo.  Though he did suffer an upset at the hands of GF Teams Vitor Henrique at the Pans (keep in mind though Leandro was fighting up a weight at Middle), Leandro has beaten both Lepri and Langhi multiple times.  He posses probably the best toreando and open guard at the moment.

Competitors to watch: Juan Caio Kamezawa (Alliance Sao Paulo) who faired decently at the recent copa podio and won this division at brown belt last year, Nate Mendelsohn (Coalition 95) who is a new black belt under Claudio Franca, Vinicius Marinho (GF Team), Philipe “Furao” Della Monica (Gracie Barra), Zach Maxwell (Gracie Humaita) who can and could beat the top guys, fellow sherdogger Oliver Geddes (Roger Gracie)


Though there are many viable candidates in this division, my favorite here would still be Claudio Calasans.  He has elite level judo coupled with a guard that no seems to be able to solve.  If he doesn’t get hurt doing the absolute (which seems to happen) he should be in the finals.   Aside from Claudio, Atos has a strong team in this division with 5 entries (though only 2 count towards team points).  Supporting Claudio will be Davi “Mike Tyson” Ramos who has some of the most vicious foot locks in the game and Marcos Souza an underrated competitor that is not very well known due to him being based in Japan.

Barbosa’s Murilo Santana is another star that has seemed to fly under the radar.  DJ Jackson of Lloyd Irvin will also be a very tough fight with his relentless wrestling and pressure passing.

Clark Gracie and his famed omoplata will want to continue his pans success.  Will we see another viral meme from Clark at the worlds?

You know this division is stacked when I have written about several competitors without even mentioning the returning champion Otavio Sousa.  Otavio is an intense competitor and is quite possibly the most physically strong middle weight in the bracket.  He and his teammate Victor Estima will shoot to close out their division for Gracie Barra.

Competitors to watch: Gustavo Junqueira (Alliance), Ian McPherson (Alliance), Eduardo Santoro (Cia Paulista), Vitor Henrique (GF Team), Jake Mackenzie (GF Team), Lucas Rocha (Gracie Barra)

Medium Heavy

Probably one of the most exciting story lines for the worlds is the return of Braulio Estima to the tournament scene.  He has been away for a few years focusing on ADCC and his MMA career.  But in 2013 we get a lot of Braulio in the gi – recent Copa Podio superfight vs. Xande, Mundials, and upcoming Metamorsis superfight vs. Rodolfo!  Braulio looked rusty in his loss to Xande at the Copa Podio and that was a 6 minute match.  Will he have his grips and wind back to fight the 10 minute matches multiple times?  Braulio’s Gracie Barra teammate Romulo Barral is looking to repeat his gold from last year.  He suffered a somewhat surprising defeat to Guto Campos at the recent Pans.  He should bounce back from that and medal in this division.

The favorite will be Andre Galvao.  Having one of the most complete games in grappling he is also one of the most fun competitors to watch, you never know what is going to happen.  Andre closed out this division with his teammate Guto Campos at the Pans after submitting Tarsis Humphreys in the semis with a kimura.  Tarsis will try and get Andre back; it was only a few years ago that Tarsis was the world champion of this division.  He will be joined by his teammate and rising Alliance star Dimituris Souza.  Dimitrius is one that many Alliance people have said to watch as they expect great things from him.

Little known Gordo duo Renan Vital and Pedro Borges Dos Santos could surprise people.  “Rinonceronte” as Renan is known possesses amazing judo and a relentless top game (that was honed by many years of training under Terere); while Pedro has the quintisentially deep half guard you would expect from a student of Gordo.

Competitors to watch: Chris Moriarty (Alliance) is back after taking off time to finish Chiropractic school, Eduardo “Turtle Master” Telles (Brasa) who recently moved to San Diego and has been training with Andre Galvao for this tournament, Abmar Barbosa (Drysdale), Felipe Pena (Gracie Barra) who in 2012 was one of the best brown belts, Kleber “Buiu” Oliveira (Gracie Barra)


Checkmat has 4 entries and all will be in the medal mix.  Nivaldo Oliveira and Tarcisio Jardim are looking to improve on their silver and bronze medals from the Pans this year.  They will be supported by half guard wizard Lucas Leite and upstart Yuri Simoes.  Roberto “Tussa” Alencar who beat Nivaldo in the finals of the Pans is in this division again. 

Rodolfo Vieira, who did not compete at the Pans, here wants to repeat his gold from 2012.  Aside from the weight group we are all hoping to see another Buchecha/ Rodolfo match up in the absolute (they had one of the best fights in history at last year’s Worlds).

The legend Xande Ribeiro is always in the mix with the young guns.  He is coming of a convincing win over Braulio Estima at the last Copa Podio.  He will want revenge over Rodolfo for last year’s finals loss.

Competitors to watch: Alexandre Ceconi (Ceconi Team) this Rillion Gracie black belt is good and will be a hard match up for any competitor,  Diogo Almeida (Ryan Gracie), UFC Ultimate Fighter competitor Kevin “King” Casey (Rickson Gracie)

Super Heavy

Pretty crazy that last year’s champion and absolute runner up Leo Noguerira is not representing Alliance’s A team!  The duo that will be trying to get points for Alliance’s team title will be Bernardo Farias and Leo Leite.  Both have very different games with Bernardo having his famed deep half guard and Leo being the most accomplished judo fighter in this tournament (he represents Brazil internationally).

Rafael Lovato will try and stop any sort of Alliance close out.  This is a higher weight than he usually fights but remember he did win the Ultra Heavy category in 2007 so he will be used to it.

I am very interested in seeing how Joao Gabriel Rocha does in this division.  The Soul Fighter black belt pulled of the double gold last year at brown belt.  Physically he can handle these guys and has complete game with no apparent weaknesses top or bottom.

Competitors to watch: Joao Assis (Checkmat), Bruno Bastos (Nova Uniao), James Puopolo (Ribeiro)

Ultra Heavy

No man Buchecha’s size should move the way he does.  Coming off his best year ever in 2012 he has continued his performance with a double gold at the Pans beating Galvao in the absolute final.   The only loss he has had in the past year was to his instructor Rodrigo Cavaca at the Abu Dhabi World Pro, some say it was a playful fight while others say it is the master shutting down his pupil.  In fact both are signed up for this division and will hope to close it out together.

Another Checkmat hotshot in Alexander Trans is in this division.  I imagine he will be bracketed with Cavaca and already has a win over him.  Cyborg is also here and will be trying tornado guard all opponents.

Competitors to watch: Asa Fuller (Ace Jiu Jitsu) is older but don’t be fooled as he will try and foot lock you and he also actually gets to see/train with Buchecha on a daily basis, Ricardo Evangelista (GF Team) it is said that in training no one can stop him – remember this is the same team that Rodolfo comes from, Orlando Sanchez (Gracie Barra) the widest man at the tournament, Abraham Marte (Yamasaki)





Brown Belt Male


Lower weights are usually pretty low in number of entrants.  Only one I’m familiar with here is Levy Jackson – champion at this year’s gi worlds at this belt and division; he also came second last year.  Maybe he’ll get his black belt after winning this weekend.

Light Feather

Like the rooster division there are only 4 entrants here.  Johnny Munoz from C-Quence who I think just got his brown belt after doing very well locally (So Cal guy) and at the larger IBJJF tournaments should make it to the finals. 


Interesting that Matthew Maldonado appears to be representing the Alliance “B” team– I say this since he is listed under “Alliance International.”  Curious if this is an error as he has been on an absolute tear as of late, he did very well at last weekend’s Abu Dhabi Pro trials losing to Gianni Grippo in the finals.  Matthew closed out the gi worlds division with his teammate this year.  I think he will do it again meeting Jacare’s product from Atlanta in Jeffrey Cummings.

Lookout for Matthew Aragoni from Raul Castillo BJJ; he’ll be a tough fight for anyone.


This is going to be a division that I will enjoy watching; in my view 3 fighters here with equal chances to win: Rafael Pereira (Gordo Bjj/Gracie Elite), Aj Agazaram (Gracie Barra), and Gary Tonon (Renzo Gracie/Ricardo Almeida/Tom Deblass/Gracie Elite).

Rafael and Aj had a controversial match in the recently concluded Miami Open.  Controversial as some felt Aj was fleeing the mat on several occasions, in the end Aj got the win.  Both are on opposite ends of the bracket and could meet in the finals.

Aj, the former Ohio State Buckeye wrestler, will have a tougher route getting to finals. Barring an upset he would meet Gary in the semis.  These 2 have gone against each other several times this year.  I think Aj won their last meeting at the ADCC trials but prior to that Gary had put Aj to sleep at the Pan No Gi I believe.


This is a stacked division!  Watch out for Brian Morizi (Atos BJJ), Francisco “Sinistro” Itturalde (Alliance Ecuador), Sean Roberts (Ralph Gracie/Gracie Elite), Nathan Mendelsohn (Coalition 95/Claudio Franca) and Paul Schon (Cobrinha/Alliance),

Brian Morizi has been on the competition scene for many years now.  If you live in Southern California you will for sure have seen him.  He had been really successful at the lower belts representing Gracie Barra, but since his move to training under Andre Galvao, I feel his jiu jitsu has sky rocketed.  He’s been a brown for not even a year now but has been very successful.

Sinistro is probably the favorite of the division.  At such a young age he has already accomplished so much in his jiu jitsu career.  I believe he is now based in New York and training consistently with Fabio Clemente and crew and probably Marcelo Garcia as well.  He did well at last weekend’s Abu Dhabi pro and will look to continue his win streak. 

Nate Mendelsohn is an avid competitor based up north in Santa Clara.  He has won numerous tournaments here and all over the world.

Medio Pesado

Keenan Cornelius – that is all – seriously, it’s not even fair.


Roberto Torralbas should win this one; I think he runs the Third Law Lloyd Irvin School in Florida.  He is a frequent competitor and should add another medal.

Super Heavy

Only one I am familiar with here is Abner Soares of Brazilian Top Team.  He won this division at Purple last year and I believe gi Pans the year before.  He is a little small for this division, looks to be Middle Heavy but probably moves up to utilize his speed.

Ultra Heavy

Lloyd Irvin’s behemoths have this division on lockdown.  Willie Leonard has been winning this division since blue belt; he should be favored to win again.  I’m pretty sure if he meets his teammate Kenneth Brown in the finals they will fight.  Lloyd’s guys always go at it.




Caio Terra vs. Monstrinho in the finals; a rematch of the American Nationals No Gi Finals.  Will the Alliance rep be able to beat Caio?

Light Feather

Though he didn’t get a bye in the first round, I still think Laercio Fernandes is the favorite here.  This Giva Santana product trains frequently with Cobrinha, so you know he will be sharp!  Laercio lost a close fight to Gui Mendes in the finals of this year’s Gi Worlds.  I think he will get that mundial gold he’s been looking for this weekend.

Rafael “Barata” Freitas gets a bye and should meet Laercio in the semifinals.  The other side of the bracket should go to Marcelo Garcia’s training partner Henrique Rezende.  The Alliance guys are very high on Henrique.  He hasn’t really broken through yet on the main stage, this could be this weekend if he gets to the finals and beats Laercio.       


With the Mendes Brothers living in California now I was really hoping they would do these Worlds.  Doesn’t seem that way as they appear to be focusing on their new Newport Beach school.  That means latest Cobrinha vs. Mendes edition will have wait till next year’s Pans.

The clear favorite here will be Cobrinha.  I don’t think he’ll really break a sweat

Cobrinha should meet Rafa’s training partner Ed Ramos in the finals.  If Cobrinha is on that day there really shouldn’t be a problem

Look out for Justin Rader (Lovato BJJ), Samir Chantre (Gracie Elite) and Osvaldo “Quexinho” Moizinho (Gracie Elite, but I think a Soul Fighter Black belt – too bad he is on Cobrinha’s side of the bracket though)


This is going be a closely watched division with Lucas Lepri (Alliance), JT Torres (Lloyd Irvin) Leandro Lo (Cicero Costha), Augusto “Tanquinho” Mendes (Soul Fighter) and Zach Maxwell (Gracie Humaita/Regis Lebre) all vying for gold.

Not much more needs to be said about Lucas and Leandro.  They have met several times over the past 2 years, normally in the finals, with Leandro usually edging out a victory.  I had my concerns about how Lo’s gi game with translate to no gi.  He relies heavily on the sleeves and pant legs with his spider guard, x-spider guard, and toreando passing.  But he did win last weekend’s No Gi brasileiros, so that should quell some concerns.

Jt Torres is a perennial competitor who has a bright future ahead of him.  He hasn’t won too many IBJJF medals at black belt (I believe 3rd at worlds last year may have been his best showing) but he has lost some tough and controversial fights.  There is so little that sets the top competitors apart, it really all depends on if it is their day or not.  I know that Jt is hungry and one day soon he will get that elusive black belt gold.

Tanquinho is coming off knee surgery and slowly getting back into the groove.  Prior to his knee surgery he had come off 2 wins vs. Rafa Mendes and Cobrinha.  Once he gets back into form, Tanquinho will wreck havoc in the Feather and Light divisions.

Zak Maxwell is a machine!  He shows no emotion win or loss.  I really enjoy watching his game and he looks to have fitted into his black belt nicely; he holds a win over Kron Gracie.


Riding his win over Cyborg last weekend at the World Pro Trials, DJ Jackson may be the favorite here.  His immense pressure and superior wrestling seem tailor made for no gi.  Aside from the Cyborg win, Dj already holds wins over Lucas Lepri and Ian McPherson – all in just a couple months at black belt.  Dj could possibly have a rematch in the finals with Bill “The Grill Cooper.  They fought at GrapplersQuest (I believe DJ was a purple belt) and Dj was able to get a leg lock submission win over Cooper.

Clark Gracie and his omoplata will try and stop that rematch as he is in the same bracket as Cooper.  But this is if Clark beats Murilo Santana in his 2nd fight – which will be tough.  Murilo doesn’t get much exposure as he comes from a smaller school in Barbosa BJJ and competes mainly in Brazil.  But this guy is good!  He will be in the hunt for gold.  I wouldn’t be surprised with a DJ vs. Murilo final.

Medium Heavy

We have Kleber “Buiu” Oliveira (Gracie Barra Rio), Victor Bomfim (GF Team), Ezra Lenon (ATT), Pablo Popovitch (Avengers), and Romulo Barral (Gracie Barra BH).

Barral is one of the favorites here.  He has had a good year thus far winning gold at the Gi Worlds in June; all coming after reconstructive knee surgery.  But I am not completely sold on Barral’s no gi game – I think mostly due to his style of guard play.  He has not done too well at the ADCC’s, losing in the first round at the most recent edition.  But recently he seems to be favoring the top position more with his ridiculous knee slide passing, maybe he will come out and show us some take downs.

Buiu, Bomfim, Lenon and Popovitch are all in the same side of the brackets.  This undoubtedly will be the tougher route to the finals.  Buiu is an explosive specimen, a sort of poor man’s Jacare.  He has had extensive training with Roger Gracie and will look to close out the division with teammate Barral.

Victor Bomfim is unknown here in the States but has been very successful locally in Brazil.  He recently left Gordo Jiu Jitsu and has joined GF Team.  Training with the likes of Rodolfo, Ricardo Evangelista, Wancler Oliveira, etc should definitely have improved his game.

Ezra Lenon came on the radar only recently with his wins over Abmar Barbosa and Pablo Popovitch.  Should he make it through the earlier round he will have a rematch with Pablo in the semis.

Pablo Popovitch, Weapon X himself.  I am always amazed at how this man can make it to medium heavy!  He is huge!  He has won his division at the No Gi worlds for several years now and probably one of the more successful no gi competitors out there – he’s done very well at all the ADCC’s he’s competed in.  A Barral vs. Popovitch final will be very interesting to watch.


Pretty good field here – my 2 personal favorites are Rafael Lovato and Nivaldo Oliveira; but they are both on the same side of the brackets.

Side 1 has Roberto “Tussa” Alencar (Gracie Barra), The Turtle Master Eduardo Telles (Brassa), and Diego Gamonal (BTT).

Tussa is always a favorite to make it into the later rounds, he has one of the most memorable No Gi Worlds fights ever when he beat Marcello Louzado with a triangle in the last 30 seconds, I think 2009 edition?

Eduardo Telles is I believe a recent San Diego transplant, I think he is teaching out of Robert Lovi’s gym.  From what I’ve heard he’s been training over at Galvao’s gym getting ready for this tournament, so he should be in shape to compete.

David Avellan is an interesting entry here.  I am not too familiar with his BJJ lineage as I always thought he came from a sort of grappling hybrid background.  But he holds wins over some of BJJ’s biggest stars: Lovato, Tarsis Humphreys, Xande Ribeiro, and Cyborg – I think most if not all came at ADCC.

Super Heavy

Only 7 competitors but 5 of whom could win and it wouldn’t be too much of a surprise.

Alliance’s heavyweight duo of Bernardo Farias and Antonio Peinado will look to not only close out this division but the absolute as well. 

The Checkmat combo of Joao Assis and Tarcisio Jardim will be no push over’s.  Joao has a bye in the first round and should meet Farias in the semis.  Tarcisio get’s a tough first match in Peinado but the winner of that will have to face the legendary Xande Ribeiro.

Xande should be on point as he has probably been focusing on no gi for several months now due to his recent no gi super fight vs. Dean Lister.   I think Xande meets Farias in the finals, a rematch of the 2011 world’s gi final where Bernardo squeaked out a win over Xande. 

Ultra Heavy

Who can stop Cyborg?  Judging from the list, I don’t think anyone can.  This will be his division to lose


Female Black Belt

Light Feather

Final will be Nyjah Easton (Lloyd Irvin) vs. Sofia Amarante (Avengers).


Recently promoted black belt Ana Carolina Vidal should win this division.


Only 3 competitors but Bia Mesquita (Gracie Humaita/Leticia Ribeiro) is in it.  She is always fun to watch with her technicality and intensity.  She will also be a favorite in the Absolute.


Just 2 competitors, but are in the top 10 women practitioners in the world right now. 

Penny Thomas (Gracie Humaita/Limao JJ) goes  against Luisa Monteiro (Cicero Costa).  Penny is an avid competitor and is probably one of the most familiar faces in the women’s scene.  She lost to Fernanda Mazzelli in the finals of the gi worlds this year.

Luiza Monteiro has really come around in the last year.  I believe she got most of her training from Checkmat but this year joined her boyfriend Leandro Lo over at Cicero Costha.   At the gi edition of the tournament this year, Luiza took gold in her division and silver in the absolute – where she beat Luanna Alzuguir in the semis.

Medium Heavy

Michelle Nicolini – not cause she’s the only entrant but she is also bad a$$!  She’ll rest and be a favorite for the finals.


The women here are breathing a sigh of relief, no Gabi Garcia this year!  2 entrants in Tammy Griego (Gracie Barra/Tussa Alencar) and Fernanda Mazzelli.  I think Fernanda wins this.





You know that Christmas song “It’s the most wonderful time of the year”?  Well that’s usually how I feel during last week of May/first week of June.  The Mundials are here!

Below is our preview of the Brown Belt Male, Black Belt Male, and Black Belt Female.  One day I do hope to be able cover all belts for both the male and female competitions.  Unfortunately I've got a job that occupies 12 to 14 hours of my day, full coverage just isn’t going to happen anytime soon!

Disclaimer:  This is going off the “final” list printed on Saturday.  I know that brackets are out and I was way too far into writing this to look through brackets and alter the preview.  

Let’s get started!


Brown Belt


This division only has 12 entries.  The clear favorite is last year’s silver medalist in Levy Jackson of Checkmat.

Special shout out to Gracie Barra’s lone representative Steve Trocino.  I started training with Steve many years ago and wish him success at this year’s tournament.


Light Feather

Ronaldo Candido, last year’s Champion and this year’s Pan Champion is back to defend his throne.  Looking for revenge is 2011’s runner up Isaac Chavez of Nova Uniao.  Other’s wanting to spoil a repeat of last year’s final should be the duo from Alliance in Matthew Maldonado and Thomas Lisboa (bronze medalist in 2011).



How is Jonathan Thomas still a brown belt?  His partner at weight over the years, Michel Langhi, has moved up to the black belt.  Jonathan looks to repeat his win a year ago.  Replacing Michel is Victor Paiva, son of Alliance Legend Gigi Paiva.  A third person to look out from Alliance is Pedro Torres who got Bronze in this weight group at purple belt.  Pedro has been honing his skills at the Alliance Orlando with Bruno Malfacine.

Aside from Jonathan, another heavy favorite here is Gianni Grippo.  This John Danaher student has had a lot of success even at such a young age.  He has already won the Pans this year and looks to add another medal to his growing collection.

People to look out for: Davin Maxwell of Cassio Werneck - silver medalist at 2012’s Pans,  Eduardo August Carvalho of Alliance,  Rafael “Ze Triangulo” Costa of Gracie Elite, Josh Vogel of Balance Studios/Relson Gracie, Andris Brunovskis of Lloyd Irvin – talk about a sick guard!



Now this is a loaded division!  The gold and silver medalists from last year are back in Jordon Schultz and Ralph Go of Atos Philippines (big shout out to him as he is the most accomplished competitor in my home country!).  The only difference is that Jordon now represents Lloyd Irvin, a side story that added a little bit of intrigue at this year’s Pans when he faced off against former teammate Sinistro in the first round.  Hopefully things have died down and we can get back to jiu jitsu.  Even though these 2 were the top dogs last year, odds are they won’t meet again in the finals.

Standing in the way is the talented duo from Gracie Barra – AJ Agazarm and Stephen Martin.  AJ is a former Ohio State wrestler and Stephen is a pupil of Braulio Estima at Gracie Barra Birmingham.  They already got gold and silver at the Pans and look to repeat the feat this weekend.

Chris Visentin will be hoping to close out the tournament for Atos with Ralph Go.  Chris has been very successful at the Mundials winning the Blue and Purple belt divisions.  Like Jordon, Chris decided to leave Alliance as well and move across the country (he was a Fabio Clemente/Lucas Lepri student at Alliance New York) and join Andre Galvao and his stellar army of competitors

People to look out for: Nathan Mendelsohn of Claudio Franca/Coalition 95 – depending on the brackets he has a very good chance of medaling, Diogo Almeida of Gracie Barra Rio de Janeiro, Gary Tonnon of Ricardo Almeida – unknown to must but is an excellent grappler, Daren Roberts of Lloyd Irvin – another Alliance transplant, a couple years ago I had the pleasure of training with him in Atlanta and he is an extremely talented competitor but an even better teacher.  He runs one of the best kids programs I have seen.



The revelation of this year’s Pans is thankfully back for the Worlds.  Renato Cardoso of Checkmat had everyone on the edge of their seats at this year’s Pans.  He foot locked his way to a double gold and I really enjoyed watching him do it.

Moving back up from light is Sinistro Itturalde of Alliance.  His impassable guard will surely be in the medal mix.  Speaking of guards, another one to watch is Beneil Darush, this student of Bruno “Mamute” Paulista has been preparing vigorously with Romulo Barral and Company.  Beneil has been winning medals at all the tournaments for a couple years but really got this year when he gave Kron Gracie all he could handle at the Abu Dhabi Pro trials. 

The tag team of Ronis Gracie and Sean Roberts from Gracie Elite will surely go far in the brackets.  Ronis has been preparing for this with the boys from Atos, so you know he will be sharp. 

Now 2 competitors that I always have enjoyed watching are DJ Jackson and Alec Baulding.  I had always thought that if these 2 fought each other it would be a great battle with DJ’s ungodly strength and top game against Alec’s incredible athleticism and guard.  Now that they are in the same division they happen to be on the same team!  Along with Daren Roberts and Jordon Schultz, Alec left Alliance at the beginning of this year.  But from past experience it seems that Lloyd Irvin teammates have no ill feelings about facing each other in the finals, if they do meet hopefully we will be treated to a great fight.

People to watch: Luca Anacoreta of Aeterna Jiu Jitsu – lost in last year’s purple finals to DJ Jackson, Brian Morizi of Atos – he may have just gotten the brown belt but be sure he will be hunting for the gold, Adam Piccolotti of Raul Castillo


Medium Heavy

I think that we will have a Gracie Barra closeout here with Felipe Pena and Charles Negromonte.   If this happens they should fight in the finals as they have already done so this year at the recent Brazilian Nationals final.  Felipe is having a lot of success in the past year.  He doubled up at the 2011 Worlds at Purple and this year has already defended his brown belt with gold at the Pans and Brazilian Nationals.

An intriguing entry here is the new brown belt Sebastian Broesche.  Up until 2010 no one had any idea who Sebastian was but he took the worlds by storm and won weight and absolute at Purple Belt.  He did this after being only a purple belt for a couple months.  It seems he is in the same situation again, can he repeat the feat at brown belt?

People to watch out for: Dan Schon of BJJ Revolution, Abner Soares and Gabriel Procopio of BTT – both have had success at the lower belts, Yuri Schneider of Godoi – constant medalist at Purple and a newly promoted to brown belt, Ilari Gronholm of Hilti BJJ, Roberto Torralbas of Lloyd Irvin – he has medaled at many major tournaments and is coming off a silver at the Pans, losing only to Felipe Pena



The favorite in this division should be the German, Johannes Wieth.  This Saulo Ribeiro student runs a school in Munich but trains several months out of the year with Rafael Lovato and Saulo.  Johannes has won the mundials at Blue and Purple.  In 2011, his first year as a brown belt, he took 2nd in his category.

Since Joao Rocha has moved up to Super Pesado, Johannes’s main competition should be in Jurandi Concencaio.  This Godoi student has already won gold at this year’s Pans and got bronze at the 2011 worlds.


Super Heavy

Favorite Joao Rocha of Soul Fighters should continue his winning ways.  Joao won the heavy division in 2011 but so far in 2012 he has had just as much success in the heavier weight class.  Joao has it all - a good Judo game with tight passing and possess a deadly guard.    Speaking of good Judo, Luke Costello is in this division and should give a run for the gold.   Depending on how the brackets pan out, look for these two to meet sometime in the competition, hopefully in the finals.

People to watch: Thiago Xiemens of Alliance – he usually competes in the Ultra Heavy, but he probably got tired of losing to Willie Leonard! Aaron “Tex” Johnson of Alliance – Tex got bronze in this division last year and Silver at this year’s Pans.


Ultra Heavy

One name here, Orlando Sanchez.  This mountain of a man owns the division in 2012.  Orlando is coming off a double win at the Brazilian Nationals; some say this is a harder feat than doing so at the Worlds.  Orlando has had a fast rise in the jiu jitsu ranks; I want to say he’s been training for 3 to 4 years now. 

A curious entry into this category is Orlando’s teammate Lucas Rocha.  Lucas usually fights in the middle weight division, he is several weight classes up and probably is outweighed by over a 100 pounds.  I am not sure if this is an error or if this is a strategic maneuver on Gracie Barra’s part.  Regardless of the weight disadvantage, this Ze Radiola student (he also is his nephew) is very talented and will do well.

The one with more than just a chance to spoil Orlando’s run is Willie Leonard of Lloyd Irvin.  The only reason Willie didn’t medal at the Pans was because he fought Orlando in the first round.  Brown belt brackets are made randomly and no one is seeded.  Hopefully these 2 are at opposite ends of the bracket and would meet in the final. 

Lastly, a third favorite here should Abraham Marte of Yamasaki Academy.  Abraham lost a controversial final last year to Alexander Trans.    If he doesn’t run into Willie or Orlando in the first few rounds, he should easily make it to the medal fights.


Black Belt



Wow, 22 people have entered this division.  This is probably double the usual amount of entrants.  Even with the larger field, it really doesn’t matter as this is Bruno Malfacine’s division.  He moved up a weight class at this year’s Pans and was very successful winning the gold over Gui Mendes.  As usual his main competition will come from Caio Terra.  Caio has beaten Bruno in the past and all their fights are either exciting or controversial.

Felipe Costa of Brasa has been competing for a long time.  I think he has the record for the most mundial bronze medals for any competitor.   If Caio and Bruno are on point, he should add to that collection.

Rafael “Barata” Freitas, the inventor of the Baratoplata, is in this division as well.  Along with Felipe, Barata will compete for the bronze medal.  

A tough draw for the favorites will be Milton Bastos of Paragon.  This Franjinha student not only has the skills to compete here but has the physical strength to overpower some of these rooster weights.  If someone were to pull an upset it could be him.

But let’s face it; this division is all about Caio and Bruno.  It has been this way for a few years now and this tournament should add another edition to their rivalry.


Light Feather

This is Atos’s division to lose with both entries arguably being the favorites.  Ary Farias and Gui Mendes shared the title last year and look to do it once again in 2012.  Gui is coming off a disappointing loss to Bruno Malfacine at this year’s Pans; he’ll surely want to erase that memory.  Ary Farias on the other hand seems to have been MIA since last year’s worlds, if I am correct the only major tournament he has done since then was the World Pro Trials in Gramado.  Ary lost in the semifinals to the Isaque Paiva – who actually went on to beat Ary’s teammate Bruno Frazzato in the final.

The person with the best shot to ruin an Atos closeout would be Samuel Braga of Gracie Barra.  Samuel is a multiple time world champion but is usually remembered for his post fight altercation with Gui Mendes that caused Samuel’s disqualification and Worlds silver medal a couple years ago.  Samuel’s teammate Pablo Silva will be a tough fight for anybody and depending on the brackets should meet one of the Atos duo in the semifinals.

If you are a reader of our blog you might remember that we have been fans of Laercio Fernandes for awhile.  He seems to be on the cusp of breaking through with the elite fighters but has fallen short several times.  I thought his win at the American Nationals over Caio Terra 2 years would push him over but he just hasn’t gotten there yet.  Laercio has been training extensively with Cobrinha this year and hopefully this will get him to the top of the podium.

People to watch: Henrique Rezende of Alliance – this Marcelo Garcia student is very good and could surprise folks, Gabriel Wilcox of Brazilian Fight, Carlos Hollanda of Checkmat – Esquisito beat Caio Terra at the Pans 2 years ago and has done very well at the No Gi Worlds, Bernardo Pitel of Nova Uniao – he seems to have been around forever, if my memory is correct he won the worlds in 2001, Dai Yoshioka of Tokyo Yellowmans – owner of the most boring gi but came in second in 2008 to Samuel Braga



Can anyone stop Rafa?  Seriously?  Coming off possibly his strongest performance to date at this year’s pans – all submissions including Justin Rader, Mario Reis, and Cobrinha; Rafa has said he looks to improve and show an even better performance at the worlds.  Cobrinha has thrown his name into the mix and should be the second favorite meaning if he were to try and avenge his defeat it would have to be in the finals.  I’ve been a Cobrinha fan for a long time but Rafa just seems to be above the rest of the field.  He is young and does not have to teach classes daily like Cobrinha – for the time being, the Mendes Bros new school opens June 4th.  I think the biggest question here is, if they do meet again, will Rafa be able to submit Cobrinha for a 2nd time?

This year’s tournament also marks the return of a jiu jitsu legend.  It appears that Fredson Paixao has entered this division.  Fredson is a Gracie Barra legend from Manaus and shares a similar lineage to Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza – both are linked to Osvaldo Alves.  That’s one of the things that I love about jiu jitsu, you can see the heroes of yesterday face off against the stars of today – now if we can only get a Roger vs. Rodolfo fight going…..

People to watch: Isaque Paiva of Cicero Costha - So far this year he has already beaten Bruno Frazzato and Ary Farias, a little unknown but will make a lot of noise this weekend, Mike Fowler of Atos – since leaving Lloyd Irvin he has dropped down a few weight categories and got bronze at the Pans, Samir Chantre of Gracie Fighter, Wellington Dias of Gracie Humaita – I think he has competed at every single edition of the Mundials, Justin Rader of Ribeiro Jiu Jiutsu – comes off a win at the Dallas Open, Marcelino Freitas of Nova Uniao – unknown to some but a very strong competitor; look for him to make some noise in this division, Sandro “Batata” Santiago – his Batata Loop Choke DVD was one of my first instructional when I started jiu jitsu.



2 stars from last year’s edition are glaringly missing from this category: Gilbert Burns (focusing on MMA) and Michael Langhi (Reportedly due to Visa issues).  Adding to this absence is Kron Gracie who has decided to move up a weight division making JT Torres the only returning medalist from 2011.

Based off performances in 2012 the favorite here is probably Leando Lo of Cicero Costha.  Leandro came on the scene early last year when he was the first person in a long time to defeat Michael Langhi.  He repeated this feat in the finals of the most recent Brazilian Nationals. 

Coming off a silver medal at this year’s Pans, Lucas Lepri will look to avenge that lose to Leandro Lo.  Lucas has been has stalwart in this division for a few years now.

The young upstart Robert “Satoshi” Souza is another favorite.  At this year’s Europeans he beat both Michael Langhi and JT Torres.  He’s has been able to accomplish all this with barely a year at black belt.

JT Torres continues his journey for that elusive black belt gold.  This Lloyd Irvin student has all the tools in the world to be at the top of the podium, I think it’s only a matter of time.  He had quick “Terere” like stint at the Super Heavy division in this year pans due to a severe sickness the week prior to the tournament.  Hopefully this doesn’t happen again and he enters the worlds at full steam.

Zak Maxwell will be in the mix for a medal.  Zak is the most unassuming competitor, win or lose his demeanor never changes, I am not sure if I have ever seen emotion from him.  Much like him, his jiu jitsu is very straight forward and he is a talent.  His biggest accomplishment this year was his win over teammate Kron Gracie at the Abu Dhabi trials.

I feel strange calling this guy my dark horse but Davi Ramos appears to be overlooked by most people.  First of all he is probably the largest and strongest light weight out there.  I really am baffled at how he makes the cut in this division.  Add in his penchant for foot locks and this guy is a threat to submit anyone, at weight or absolute.

People to watch: Renan Borges of Brazilian Top Team, Philipe “Furao” Della Monica, Tim Peterson of Lotus Club/Robot Jiu Jitsu – this local Southern California Bjj standout has be preparing for the worlds with Team Lloyd Irvin; so you know he will be ready.



Like last year this is probably the most stacked division of the tournament, even with the absence of jiu jitsu god Marcelo Garcia.  Last year’s runner up Lucas Leite is back from his honeymoon at the Heavy Division (where he did have good success winning last year’s No gi worlds and this year’s Pans).  Lucas lost to Marcelo last year in the finals and will want that gold.  In his way will be a host of tough fighters.

In my view Claudio Calasans might be the favorite in this division.  He is one of the few lighter guys that truly have a shot in the absolute division.  He possesses an incredible judo game that goes along with a wicked guard.  Last year he suffered a pretty bad injury in the absolute category (against Rodolfo Vieira and was one of Rodolfo’s toughest fights at the 2011 tournament) that limited his participation in his weight group.  Hopefully this does not happen again and we see Claudio competing in his weight category.

Abmar Barbosa and Jake Mackenzie are 2 youngsters that will give everyone a tough time.  Depending on how seeding works these 2 could make a deep run in the tournament.

Otavio Souza of Gracie Barra appears to be back in form with double gold at this year’s New York and Long Beach Spring Open.  Otavio’s been preparing very hard for this tournament with his Professor Ze Radiola leading the Mundials camp over at Gracie Barra Headquarters.  Otavio’s teammate Victor Estima will definitely be in the hunt for the gold as well.  Victor lost in the finals of this year’s Pans to Calasans and will look for a rematch.  Victor also has a brewing rivalry with Kron Gracie that culminated into some unpleasant words at their super fight during the World Jiu Jitsu Expo a few weeks ago.  Kron is also in this division and will surely welcome a rematch against Victor.

Bill “The Grill” Cooper is back!  I think Bill’s last IBJJF tournament was at last year’s Pans where he lost to eventual champion Lucas Lepri.  At one time Bill was America’s next big thing in jiu jitsu but he seemed to step away from competition for a bit, in the gi at least.  Mat rust or not (he did just beat Nino Schembri at the World Expo) Bill is one of the most exciting competitors to watch; his matches are fast paced and keep your attention.

People to watch: Clark Gracie of Gracie Elite Team, Gustavo Junqueira of Alliance – I’ve been watching him at the lower belts for awhile and he is ready to take center stage; he beat Otavio Sousa at last year’s worlds but stepped aside for his Alliance teammate to continue since he was part of the “B” team, Gabriel Goulart of Alliance – another stud at the lower belts winning the purple absolute a couple years ago, Ryan Beauregard of BJJ Revolution – an extremely tough and intense competitor, Murilo Santana of Barbosa  Jiu Jitsu – don’t be surprised if he medals as talent wise he us up there with the favorites and hopefully continues his winning streak from the Brazilian Nationals.


Medium Heavy

The question here is can Barral get back to his 2009/2010 form?  Prior the knee injury sustained in a match against Tarsis Humphreys, Barral was on the heels of Roger Gracie.  Ever since his return from that unfortunate injury, Barral appears to be off rhythm.  Maybe it’s because we are used to seeing gold around Barral’s neck as he has medaled at most tournaments since his return, but he just doesn’t seem to be the Barral of old.  I really will be pulling for him and hope he gets success both at weight and absolute – the one gold he has been chasing.

The favorite in this division will be Andre Galvao.  Aside from Rodolfo, he’ll be a heavy favorite in the absolute as well.  Andre is one competitor who has found the perfect balance between being a top coach and a top jiu jitsu competitor.  One would think leading a team such as Atos daily would hinder his own personal competition performance, so far he has proven this wrong.  As tough as this division is, I would be hard pressed to think of anyone who will stop Andre from getting that gold.

Shoyoroll sponsored athlete Nivaldo Oliveira should make waves as well.  He is probably not as well known as the other competitors but don’t be fooled, he is good.  In the process of getting double gold at this year’s Brazilian Nationals, Nivaldo beat the aforementioned Romulo Barral.

Renan Vital of Gordo/Gracie Elite is another unknown competitor but aside from being a good friend of ours, he is also a very talented practitioner.  He seems be at the point where he is about to break onto the scene, this year he was able to get Bronze in a very stacked heavy division at the Pans.  We are hoping he can continue to put things together and get success at this year’s worlds.

A fan favorite here will be Rafael Lovato.  Rafael normally fights up a weight class so he will be an intimidating presence in the division.  If he wins gold he will be the first American to win twice at black belt.

Famed Sherdoger Oliver Geddes is in the bracket.  He is coming off an impressive win over Marcos Souza at this year’s Europeans.  He has bulked up in the last couple years, add to that to his technical half guard and he should do well at the worlds.

People to watch: Ian McPherson of Alliance – was an absolute beast at the lower belts; fast paced and exciting to watch, Marcos Souza of Atos/Bonsai, Eduardo Telles of Brasa – the turtle master!



Rodolfo!  End of preview… no really, who can stop this guy?  He has had an incredible string of success with a blemish at the last ADCC where Dean Lister caught him with a foot lock, but that was without the gi.  No one has been able to replicate this in the kimono yet.  There are a few competitors that may have a shot against him but they are not in his weight class. 

Tarsis Humphreys is back after a hiatus due to a knee injury.  He usually fights a weight class below and was normally physically stronger than his opponents.  Interesting to see how this jump in weight will affect his game.

Yuri Simoes the youngster from Checkmat makes his world’s black belt debut.  So far in 2012 he has done alright for himself beating Rafael Lovato en route to a Pans gold medal.

Roberto “Tussa” Alencar is always a pleasure to watch.  You never know what is going to happen when he’s fighting.  Anyone remember the flying triangle against Marcelo Louzado at the No gi worlds a few years back?

Lastly we get the return of Xande Ribeiro!  Absent from last year’s edition Xande will be raring to go.  He has done well so far this year at the Abu Dhabi events and did have a win against Galvao.  The match everyone is waiting for this weekend is Xande vs. Rodolfo, who knows we may get the opportunity to see it twice!

People to watch:  Alexandre Ceconi of Ceconi Team – he is a perennial medalist but this is a stacked field; still he will be in the mix for bronze, Roberto Godoi of Godoi Jiu Jitsu – infamously known for his brutal black belt tests, this legend of the art will be mixing it up with the kids; it will be interesting to see how he fares, Neiman Gracie of Gracie Barra – I thought he would have entered under Gracie Elite since he is primarily Renzo’s student, this is his first major tournament at black belt.


Super Heavy

This is one of my favorite divisions to watch, not only are these guys big but they move like lightweights.  No one exemplifies this more than Antonio “Cara De Sapato” Barbosa, he will berimbolo his way to the finals.  I’ve been following Antonio for a couple years, he caught my eye as a brown belt at the 2010 worlds but his breakthrough has really been in 2012.  So far this year he has medaled at weight and absolute in the pans and did very well at the Abu Dhabi Pros – losing a decision to Andre Galvao.   I have got to imagine that this division will have a rematch of the Pans finals between Antonio and Bernardo Farias.  Bernardo will look to half guard sweep and smash pass his way to weight and absolute gold.  In the Super Heavy division he should be the favorite to do so.

Standing in the way of a Bernardo/Antonio final will be Joao Assis and Leo Nogueira.  Joao is a foot lock master who has yet to win gold at the black belt worlds.  He lost last year to Leo Nogueira in the semifinals and will look to get even.  Leo is Bernardo’s training partner in Sao Paulo.  He would like nothing better than to close out the division with him, but getting there will be tough.

People to watch: Fernando di Pierro of Alliance – “Soluco” is an Alliance legend that is responsible for the tutelage of the Itturalde brothers; I love seeing these guys go into the adult divisions, Gustavo Pires of Gracie Barra, James Puopolo of Ribeiro Jiu Jitsu – this Rafael Lovato student is a tough draw for any competitor, Guybson Sa of SAS Team.


Ultra Heavy

I am not sure if I can call this pick a real long shot, but I think the Alexander Trans could win this division.  Yes he is a fresh black belt, but his results at brown belt were incredible – I don’t think he ever lost.  He also has done well this year barely losing in the finals of the Pans to his teammate Buchecha.  He also recently won this division at the Brazilian Nationals, systematically beating Antonio Peinado in the process.  I just think Trans has a very good competition game.  He won’t wow you and it can be boring – half guard sweep to pressure pass; similar strategy to Bernardo Faria, but in a 10 minute sport jiu jitsu match it is tough to beat him.

Alexander’s teammate at Checkmat Marcus “Buchecha” Almeida is probably the easy favorite here.  He is incredibly talented and I really think that he may have the best shot at beating Rodolfo – he is bigger, very athletic and gifted at foot locks.  Like the Pans, it could be another Checkmat final.

The Alliance duo will surely look to stop this.  Antonio Peinado and Leo Leite are 2 burly men with great jiu jitsu.  According to the grapevine, many Alliance stars say that in training no one can touch Peinado, in fact it is said he taps out mundials champions multiple times per roll.  It just seems he can’t get it figured out during competition.  Leo Leite is a judo extraordinaire; he has represented Brazil at numerous World Judo competitions.  His jiu jitsu isn’t so bad either as he has medaled at numerous black belt worlds over the past 10 years.

Marcio “Pe De Pano” Cruz is once again in this division.  He is one of the few multi-time black belt absolute winners. 

Roberto “Cyborg” Abreu is here as well.  He really is a great fighter to watch.  One of the most exciting matches in worlds history has be the Cyborg vs. Braga Neto match where Cyborg won in the last few seconds with a triangle, I think he was down on points significantly with Braga Neto having his back with just a few minutes to go.

People to watch:  Stephen “Pesadelo” Hall of Alliance, Rodrigo “Comprido” Medeiros of Brasa, Michael Westbrook of Nova Uniao, Mick Wilson of Peter de Been – tough tough guy!  This fire fighter is rugged and will give anyone a run for their money


Women’s Black Belt

Now that the black and brown belts are separated in the women’s division, the amount of competitors will be on the smaller side. But with the exception of Hanette Stack (out due to injury) most of the favorites are here.

Light Feather

Leticia Ribeiro will be the heavy favorite.  She is one of the most decorated women competitors in history and I believe she competed in the first ever mundials for women, 1999 I think? Her main competition should Sofia Amarante of The Avengers. This Cyborg student should give Leticia a fight but in the end this division belongs to her.



This should be a rematch of the Abu Dhabi Pro tournament a couple months ago where we saw Michelle Nicollini submit Kyra Gracie with a toe hold. Can Michelle do it again? She has been very sharp as of late, I think her submission of Kyra only took 2minutes – though in Kyra’s defense her foot was heavily bandaged and hurt. Kyra has been training with the Atos guys down in San Diego; rumor was she was going to compete for them. But she’s back with Gracie Elite and got to do the Atos training camp with the Mendes Bros, Tracey Gooddell and Bruna Ribeiro. This should be an interesting side story as Kyra and Bruna could face each other in this division.



Only 4 entries here and the favorite will be Bea Mesquita. She has been tearing the bjj scene since she was a blue belt. The first time I heard of her was during that TV show Fight Quest. They went to Brazil to highlight Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and one of the show’s host got chocked out by Bea. She’s still tapping people out left and right!



Valerie Worthington is now Alliance? I did not know that! This should be a good thing for her as she won’t have to face Luanna Alzuguir till the final. This is Luanna’s division to lose.


Middle Heavy

I really want to say Penny Thomas here but I am not convinced. Penny doesn’t seem to be as sharp as she was a few years ago. There was a time when I thought she would eventually beat Gabi Garcia in the absolute. I hope she finds back her form and comes here at her best. Talita Nogueira should be the favorite as she beat Penny in the 2011 finals



Gabi Garcia is a character in one of my fondest jiu jitsu memories. It was 2007 and it was the first worlds in the USA. There was a lull during the black belt fights and the purple belt women’s open was going on. Gabi was facing the diminutive Ana Carolina Vidal of Gracie Humaita. All I can remember was the image of Gabi flying through the air as Ana hit a beautiful hip throw. The crowd went crazy! The only other time I felt that energy from the crowd was when Kron got submitted by Sergio Moraes. But in Gabi’s defense she has come long way since her days of fighting for the Macaco Gold team. She may not be the most technical fighter but she and Fabio Gurgel are doing something right, the results are proof of it.

2012 Pan IBJJF Jiu-Jitsu Championship

The Pan Ams Are Here!

It's the most wonderful time of the year!  Southern California is buzzing with excitement as competitors from around the world make their way to Irvine to participate in the Pan Jiu Jitsu Championship (aka "The Panz").  It's difficult to walk around West Los Angeles without tripping over a current or former Brazilian Jiu Jitsu legand.  Just last night, our academy hosted Pe De Pano, who further honored KingOfCrazy by repeatedly and effortlessly tapping him, and popping a blue belts arm a couple of times.  (It takes some of us longer than others to learn to tap loudly and unambigously, particularly when sparring with a very large Brazilian.)

Brown Belts

Before we go onto the black belts, I wanted to bring up an intriguing brown belt fight.  In the first round, Jordon Schultz from Lloyd Irvin will face off against Francisco “Sinistro” Itturalde of Alliance.  There has been a lot of attention on Jordon this year due to his departure from Alliance.  I am not sure how extensively they trained together as, up until recently, Sinsitro was based in Ecuador – he (and his incredibly badass nickname) now teaches in Miami. 

Though exciting to see a fight with such a back story, I for one wish this was saved for the finals.  Schultz and Itturalde are clear favorites in their division, but since the IBJJF uses a random name generator to do the match ups in the lower belts, they are facing each other in the first round.   Recall the 2010 first round brown belt match up between Ary Farias and Michel Langhi, also two heavy favorites.  A less obvious example is this year's first round match up in the Ultra Heavy Division between Orlando Sanchez of Gracie Barra and Willie Leonard of Lloyd Irvin.  This could easiliy be a division final as well as the final of the Brown Belt absolute – which now can’t happen as only medalists from the divisions can enter the absolute.  This would be like Van Damme facing Bolo Yeung in the first round of the Kumite, which is so rediculous I doubt the screenwriter of Bloodsport even considered it.

It takes a lot of time and effort to seed brackets manually (I have great respect for the IBJJF officials and head coaches of the various teams) but the brown belts are the stars of next year.  I think it would good for the sport, the fans and the teams to have the head coaches get together and take a shot at manually seeding the brown belts so that matches up like this don’t happen till the later rounds. 

Black Belts


Will Caio Terra compete, or will he not?  Some say he has an injury, but a recent picture posted by Budo Jake shows them training in So Cal together.  There have been other rumors that he is preparing for a late run as the Republican presidential candidate, which would seem unlikely as the United States requires presidents to be born here (ha, ha).  But if Caio is in, he has to be the favorite, especially with his perennial adversary Bruno Malfacine moving up a weight class due to his newfound love for Haagen Daz peanut butter and chocolate ice cream.   On the other side of the bracket, the semifinals will likely see a rematch from last year’s finals between Felipe Costa and Rafael “Barata” Freitas. 

If Caio is out, look for a final combination of Fabio “Monstrinho” Passos from Alliance vs. the winner of the Costa/Freitas fight.


Gui Mendes is the current World Champion of this category and, based on his performance at the recent Abu Dhabi Trials, appears to be in top form.  I would be hard pressed to predict an upset before the finals.  The possibility comes in the form of Samir Chantre; if they were to meet it would occur in the semifinals. 

The second half of the bracket appears to be the heaviest.  We have possible finalists in Bruno Malfacine, Laercio Fernandes, and Pablo Silva.  Bruno is fighting up a weight class; he is the current world champion at galo.  A couple weeks ago he competed at the New York Abu Dhabi trials.  The weight classes there are a little different but Bruno was clearly undersized but still won the tournament.  Bruno could pose a threat to Gui but before doing so would have to get past some very tough opponents.

Laercio Fernandes is an absolute talent that seems to go a little under the radar.  He has medaled at previous mundials and won some very large domestic tournaments.  Though representing Lotus Club, he has been training pretty extensively with Cobrinha.  He recently lost to Gui at the San Diego Abu Dhabi trials and I am sure he is looking to get a rematch


Justin Rader just can’t catch a break!  In his second fight he’ll have to square off against the king of the division in Rafa Mendes.  These two have been competing against each other since the lower belts and it appears Justin hasn’t had much luck figuring out Rafa’s game.  Here at, we suggest that Justin doses Rafa's water bottle, or at least do something a little more proactive this time around.

Rafa’s side of the bracket sets up a great semi final when he squares off against Mario Reis.  I think this is Mario’s first major tournament since leaving Gracie Barra for Alliance.  He has been preparing for this tournament with Rafa’s nemesis Cobrinha.

Speaking of Cobrinha, I have to say I was a little surprised to hear he was competing.  He has been extremely busy with growing his new school and I am not sure how much he has been training for a tournament of this magnitude.  That being said, he is still one of the best, as his seeding shows.  On his way to a rematch with Rafa he’ll have to beat a svelte Michael Fowler (newly minted Atos member), Wellington “Megaton” Dias, or Renan Borges (keep an out for this guy; he has been extremely impressive as of late).


No Michael Langhi this year but Lucas Lepri, the 2nd half of Alliance’s dynamic duo will be there.  Looking at Lucas’s side of the bracket it doesn’t appear he would have too much trouble making it to the semifinals where he would meet Claudio Mattos from Gracie Barra.

The 2nd half of this weight bracket looks to be the tougher side with names such as Zak Maxwell, Bruno Amorim, Leandro Lo, and Phillipe “Furao” Dela Monica. 

Zak Maxwell is coming off a victory over teammate and jiu jitsu royalty, Kron Gracie.  If Zak can continue this momentum he has a strong shot at making the finals and giving Lucas Lepri a run for his money.

Leandro Lo is probably the favorite of this side of the bracket.  Leandro beat Michael Langhi at last year’s Abu Dhabi World Pro; this was Michael’s first defeat in many years.


This is a very compelling bracket as there are several names that have equal shots at wining this tournament.

Side 1 of the bracket has Victor Estima, Marcos De Souza, Kron Gracie and Murilo Santana.

Victor finally got away from his brothers shadow last year by winning the No Gi Mundials.  He took the tournament by storm with what people have dubbed as the “Estima Foot lock.” 

Marcos Souza is may appear as an unknown to the casual observer.  But trust me when I say that he has a very good chance of winning this division.  Marcos usually fights up a weight class and should be bigger and stronger than most of his opponents.  He has also been getting ready with Atos down in San Diego for this tournament.  Be sure that the Bull Terrier Kimonos owner will be in top form to make a run for the gold.

Fighting up a weight class, Kron Gracie looks to forget about his disappointing loss at the San Diego Abu Dhabi trials.  Kron has had a lot of success that last few years fighting in the light division, not sure why he has decided to move up.

I feel strange calling Murilo Santana a dark horse but he just doesn’t seem to get the recognition he deserves.  This Barbosa Jiu Jitsu team member is a tough draw for anybody.  I would not be surprised if he made it to the finals from this bracket.

Side 2 of the bracket has who I believe is the favorite in the division in Claudio Calasans.  If there is someone who has a great all around game it is him.  He has a judo black belt and an amazing guard to go along with it.  Standing in his way in this bracket will be Clark Gracie, Abmar Barbosa, and Otavio Sousa.  Luckily for Claudio, Clark faces Abmar in round 1 and the winner gets Otavio in their 2nd fight. 

Medio Pesado

The big news here is that Andre Galvao pulled out of the tournament.  He is suffering from an injury and wants to be ready for the Abu Dhabi Pro’s in April.  Aside from Galvao, it looks like that Rafael Lovato  is out as well, he had originally signed up for this division but has moved back up to Pesado.  This narrows the favorites down a little more for us.

A big question everyone is asking, is can Romulo Barral regain his pre knee surgery form?  From 2007 to 2010, it can be said that Romulo was only second to Roger Gracie.  But ever since the knee injury he suffered to Tarsis Humphries in 2010, Romulo appears to be out of sync.  At times he has showed flashes of his old self, but in others he seems to fall short – for instance his first round loss at the 2011’s ADCC.  I for one am a huge Barral fan.  He has been a huge influence in my game and I really hope he can come back strong and get back the glory.

Barral’s teammate Kayron Gracie looks to close out the division with Romulo.  Kayron won the Pan Am in 2010 but since then has saddled by injuries.

Looking to stand in the way of the  Gracie Barra duo are Oliver Geddes (this Roger Gracie student has a big submission win over Marcos Souza at this year’s Euros), newly minted GF team black belt Alberto Ramos, and Erik “AnderSLAM” Anderson. 

We also want to give a shout out to Lucas Pires of Werdum Combat team.  He is a friend of Pullingtheline and this is his first competition back after a couple year hiatus.


Is it a coincidence that when Rodolfo decided not to sign up for the Pans that this bracket filled up?

Yuri Simoes makes his debut at black belt.  Yuri has had great success at the lower belts and I think he can continue with his winning ways.  But to get to the finals he’ll have to get past Gustavo Pires, Leo Itturalde, and Rafael Lovato – not an easy task!

Lovato had been signed up for the Medio Pesado division but has now moved back to his usual weight class.  He has to be the immediate favorite in this group.

The surprise in this division is that Lucas Leite is in it.  Usually Lucas fights at Medio but has decided to move up to pesado.  This isn’t the first he has done such a move, Lucas won the No Gi Mundials in this division.

A match up I look forward to would be between Renan Vital (assuming he wins his first match) and Roberto “Tussa” Alencar.  Both have similar aggressive styles of Judo influenced Jiu Jitsu.  Should this match happen it will be a very entertaining one.  I think that the winner of this fight will meet Lovato in the finals of the division.

Super Pesado

I don’t know if this is a hoax or not but it looks like JT Torres will be competing here.  Is JT is summoning his inner Terere?  JT has been sick all week and had even had a brief spell in the hospital.  Last I heard he is competing, and since the brackets are final, I guess JT is competing with the heavies! 

Antonio “Cara De Sepato” Carlos has been someone I’ve been watching since the lower belts.  I remember in watching him 2010 when the hoopla was all about his teammate Buchecha , and I was  very impressed.  I still believe what I thought then, Antonio has the tools to be a big star in this sport just like Buchecha. 

Bernardo Farias seems to have bulked up this year moving up a weight class.  Should he make the finals he is going to have killer of a semi against Joao Assis.  Look for a Farias, Assis, and Carlos combination in the finals of this category.


Ahhhhh.  I love Pesadissimo because the competitor's bellies are as big as their hearts (and in some cases, much much bigger).  Sometimes, I daydream about letting myself go and competing at Pesadissimo, but I realize that would be a slippary slope to morbid obesity and eventually a talk show host cutting a hole in my wall and driving me to the hospital on the back of a truck to rescue me from myself.  

But this division is a great example of how much Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has evolved.  For the most part, gone are the days where two giants stomp around in a ten-minute grip fight.  The favorites in this division are just as good on top as they are on their backs with several of them possessing dynamic guards that would be at home in the Galo division!  One such, and probably the division’s favorite, is Marcus “Buchecha” Almeida.  He has a guard that would give any one fits and foot locks that would make Palhares proud.  If all goes to plan, Buchecha should meet his Danish teammate, Alexander Trans, in the finals.  Alexander is brand new black belt but was probably one of the most successful competitors in 2011.  He doubled up (gold in weight and absolute) at essentially every tournament last year except for the Brasilieors where he decided to sit out the open.  The only person to beat him in 2011 was Fabricio Werdum at the London ADCC’s.  Though these two are teammates I am not sure to what extent they have trained together.  I am hoping they don’t close out the category and fight the final.

2012 European Open Jiu-Jitsu Championship

2012 European Open Jiu-Jitsu Championship




This week we have the first major IBJJF tournament of 2012.  It is also the first tournament featuring the new IBJJF rules.  Sorry guys, can’t wear thongs anymore, its boxers or briefs only!

Before we get started with our analysis, we’d like to wish our friend Guillame Huni the best of luck at the tournament.  Guillame has the infamy of introducing me to Brazilian jiu jitsu, though I did not know it at the time.  It was during high school  basketball practice when I was a lowly sophomore and he was a bad a$$ senior.  Guillame had gotten a hold of “Grappling” Magazine and decided to try a move on me.   Needless to say I had no idea what he was doing and all I could think was “This is the closest I have ever been to another man!”  Fast forward 12 years and today I realize he was applying a mounted arm triangle on me, and can now appreciate the warmth of another man.

Time to drink some more and repress my first homo erotic memory….

Onto the Jiu jitsu:

(Disclaimer, it’s January 22nd and I think this is the final list)


I have no idea who any of these guys are!  None of the top guys are competing at this tournament so this is a tossup!


Much like Galo, this is another very small division with only 7 competitors.  Again not many of the division’s stars are in Europe for the competition.  Look to see Carlos “Esquisito” Hollanda take this division.  He’s had very good success in the No Gi division placing at major tournament, but falls short during the Gi events.  He wins and hopefully can bring that momentum to Pans in March.


Hands down favorite here is Bruno Frazzatto.  If it weren’t for Cobrinha, this man would have had several world titles to his name.  Wellington “Megaton” Dias, the perennial competitor, is also in this division.  Should he be on the other side of the bracket, look for a Frazzato vs. Megaton final.  Denilson Pimenta who spent most of last year competing in the Masters divisions is back in the adult group.  If he is on Megaton’s side of the bracket, it could make for a very good semifinal.


Due to his move from NYC to Atlanta, Lucas Lepri was not able to make this tournament.  Even without him, Alliance’s other ace in this division, Michael Langhi, should take gold.  Ed Ramos of Atos and Rodrigo Simoes of Gracie Barra should do well.  Roberto Satoshi makes his debut as a black belt at IBJJF tournament.  He is a very exciting competitor to watch.

The main adversary for Langhi will be JT Torres.  JT is at the cusp of taking the world by storm.  He has fallen in the semifinals of major events several times.  Talent wise he is right there with Langhi and Lepri, it all just depends on the day.  I for one would love to see JT win everything this year.  Regardless he is a young kid with a very bright future.


Clark Gracie has really come into his own since becoming a black belt.  He did very well at last year’s worlds in coming third in this division.  Victor Estima is another name to watch.  Since some big wins at ADCC and winning the No Gi Mundials, the younger Estima appears to be emerging from his brother’s shadow.  Hopefully he continues his winning ways. 

Otavio Sousa drops down a weight division for this tournament.  I for one cannot even imagine Otavio being this light.  Those who have seen him in person can attest to his size.  But prior to becoming a black belt this was his main division.

The sleeper here is James Harbison of Lloyd Irvin.  James won the Grand Slam (Gold at Euro, Pan, Brazilian Nationals, and Mundials) last year at brown belt.  During his first major black belt tournament at last year’s No Gi Worlds he secured a win over Cobrinha en-route to a bronze in the Absolute Division.

Meio Pesado:

What I like about the list of this division is that it contains amazing grapplers that mainstream jiu jitsu fans never have really heard of.  Gustavo Junqueira, Vitor “Gigante” Toledo, Marcos de Souza, and Nivaldo de Oliveira Lima all could easily take this division.

Gustavo, though young, has been around for awhile and people may recognize him as one of the Koral models.  He has been languishing on Alliance B team due to skilled teammates such as Sergio Moraes, and Tarsis Humphreys.  But Gustavo had a good win over Otavio Sousa in last year’s worlds and should be looking to continue that momentum.

Marcos de Souza is a pretty big name in the Asian BJJ season.  Aside from being a great competitor he is also co-owner of gi brand “Bull Terrier.”  Regardless of who he faces, Marcos is always a tough fight.  He has a very balanced game with incredibly tight passing.

Nivaldo de Oliveira Lima is my favorite here.  He doesn’t compete too often in the USA but has many wins in Brazil.  If he had more opportunities to fight outside of Brazil, I think this would be a name to include up there with the likes of Galvao, Estima, and Moraes.


Rodolfo, Rodolfo, Rodolfo!  That is all you need to know about this division!  This many practically won everything last year.  I think the only interesting matchup left for him would be against another one name enigma in Roger.  Rodolfo is already on form this year winning every fight by submission at last week’s Abu Dhabi Trials in Rio.

I’ve been a big fan of Roberto “Tussa” Alencar but he just seems to fall short year after year.  Aside from Tussa another contender for “silver” is Rafael Lovato. 

Super Pesado:

Small bracket but full of quality and size as 3 of the 4 competitors are considered among the best in the world.

Perennial Silver medalist to Rodolfo Vieira’s gold’s is Bernardo Faria.  Interesting that he decided to move up a division – is Rodolfo the new boogey man?  We use to see a whole boat load of competitors switching divisions in order to avoid Roger Gracie.

Bernardo should meet either his teammate Leo Nogueira or Lucio Lagarto in the final.  Leo is coming off a gold medal at the 2011 mundials.  Personally I would like to see Leo lose to Lagarto as this would ensure that a final would take place.  Lagarto is an old Gracie Barra champion and is one of the toughest people out there, not many can say they submitted cancer.


It’s the big boys!  I am not too familiar with the names here except for one – Alexander Trans.  Alex was arguably the best competitor last year as his lone loss was to Fabricio Werdum at the ADCC Championships in London.  Aside from that he won everything he competed in and almost pulled a Grand slam at weight and absolute.  The lone blemish was that he did not win the Brazilian Nationals Absolute as he did not enter that bracket.  But these accomplishments were all done at Brown Belt.  This will be his first tournament at Black.  Though inexperienced at this belt he does have the game to win.

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.

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!

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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