Campeonato Mundial de Jiu-Jitsu Sem Kimono
Here we go again! On Sunday, November 7th, stars of the BJJ world will descend on the Long Beach pyramid, sans Kimonos, for the 4th installment of the IBJJF No Gi Mundials. Though not as large as its cloth-wearing brother, this sibling still offers a lot of excitement.
(Disclaimer: My predictions are based off of the athletes list as of Friday morning 9:32 AM. Brackets are not yet out, but as always, Monstro will be handicapping the black belts and providing insight, and KingofCrazy will be fixing grammar and making juvenile jokes.)
Black Adult Masculino Galo (Rooserweight - 126.5 lbs)
There are two, virtually anonymous competitors in this division: Brandon Mullins from Gracie Barra and Joseph Capizzi representing Renzo Gracie. The only thing I know about either of these guys is that Mullins placed third in the 2009 Mundials. After flipping a coin, I can say with 50% certainty that the winner will be Brandon Mullins.
Black Adult Masculino Pluma (Light Featherweight - 141 lbs)
My two favorites in this division, Caio Terra and Samir Chantre, both represent team Gracie Fighter. If the brackets work out, these two should meet in the finals. The only competitor I can see upsetting a Gracie Fighter close out is Rafael Freitas of Gracie Barra. To my knowledge, I do not think Freitas has ever beaten Caio Terra in competition, at least not at the black belt level, so if he ends up on Chantre's side of the brackets, this division could get interesting.
(Also, Milton Bastos is a potential dark horse who recently received his black belt.)
Black Adult Masculino Pena (Featherweight - 154 lbs)
Last year’s champion, Baret Yoshida, will be back to defend his title. Otherwise, the front runners will be Carlos “Esquisito” Hollanda and Renan Borges. Carlos got a huge win earlier in the year against Caio Terra at the Gi Pan Ams, but his game has been slipping ever since, so let’s hope he performs up to his potential.
Justin Rader, another intriguing competitor to watch, is Rafael Lovato’s first black belt. Rader was promoted a couple of months ago, and I believe this is his first tournament at black belt. The no gi game seems to suit his style better based on his wrestling background that began at the ripe old age of 4 years old (T.O.D.N.W.)
Black Adult Masculino Leve (Lightweight 167.5 lbs)
I predict a repeat of last year’s finals between Lucas Lepri and JT Torres. Last year, Lucas won, but Torres definately has a shot at winning. Since JT’s arrival at black belt, these two have been doing battle like Ryu vs. Blanka. Lucas won the first few matches, however, JT was able to submit Lucas with a back choke at this year's nationals, and JT is rumored to have learned the fireball throw technique.
Milton Vieira, Augusto Mendes, and Philippe Della Monica could cause some problems, but if JT and Lucas are at the top of their games on Sunday, we should see another instant YouTube classic.
Black Adult Masculino Medio (Middleweight - 181 lbs)
As usual, Medio division is the most competitive and populated bracket. Favorites include: Gilbert “Durinho” Burns”, Tiago Alves, Lucas Leite (returning champion), Victor Estima, Fabricio Camoes, and of course, Bill “The Grill” Cooper.
Any one them could win the gold as there is no clear cut favorite. Durinho is coming fresh from winning the Deep 6 grappling competition in Japan. Last week, Tiago Alves won the Brazilian No Gi Nationals. Fabricio Camoes has been concentrating on MMA for the past few years so you know he has been training a lot of No Gi. Lucas Leite proved last year that he is capable of winning in this stacked division while Victor Estima surprised a lot of people. Not much has been heard from this Estima brother in awhile. If memory serves me correctly, his last major event was the 2009 Gi Mundials. Estima has had a lot of success in the kimono and we shall see if can translate that into no gi.
And then there's Wild Bill Cooper (not his official nickname), who recently won a super fight vs grappling legend Nino "Elvis” Schembri. Two days prior, he won an MMA fight via rear naked choke. Two days before that, he probably did something badass like trading roundhouse kicks with Chuck Norris. This king-among-men is always putting it on the line, and I think could win the division this year. Needless to say, I will not be in line at the churrasco stand when Wild Bill takes the mat.
Black Adult Masculino Meio-Pesado (Medium Heavy 194.5 lbs)
Whil there are several strong contenders in this division, I think the favorite has to be Pablo Popovitch. If he wins both his division and the absolute, I think that it would be safe to say Pablo is the most successful current No gi competitor living in the world today. His fights aren’t always exciting, but he does what it takes to win. After finally beating Marcelo Garcia at last year’s ADCC, he has been on a heck of a wins streak, beating Lucas Lepri in a super fight along the way.
Other names to keep an eye on: Marcello Salazar & Kleber Olieveira (winner of the Brazilian No Gi last week).
Black Adult Masculino Pesado (Heavyweight 207.5 lbs)
Three names stick out to me in this division. First, we have two Gracie Barra heavyweights with Flavio Almeida and Roberto “Tussa” Alencar. They both have more than enough talent to win this outright. This means that one of them will have to meet Rafael Lovato in an earlier round. Rafael and Flavio fought twice at the Las Vegas Open/American No Gi Nationals two months ago, with Flavio winning both times. I would like to see Lovato on Tussa’s side of the bracket with a possible final of Almeida vs Lovato.
Black Adult Masculino Super-Pesado (Super Heavyweight 221 lbs)
The names that stand out to me in this bracket are Joao Assis (above), Marcus “Bochecha” Oliviera, and Bruno Bastos.
Joao and Bocheca are both rising stars from Checkmat. Joao is coming off a huge win last weekend over grappling great Saulo Ribeiro. He not only beat Saulo this year, but also beat Saulo’s younger brother Xande at the final of the “World’s Best Grapplers Tournament” held earlier this year. The word on the street is that after taking the gold at worlds, Joao plans on taking on Saulo's sister, and if necessary, mother.
Bochecha is a very fresh black belt. He received his belt from Rodrigo Cavaca at this year’s Gi Mundials after steamrolling the competition at both weight and absolute. As a black belt, Bochecha has not lost, and even beat Daniel Moraes a month ago.
I am going to go with either one of these guys to win the division. Bruno Bastos will be the thorn in one of these guy’s brackets. Bruno likes to play a half guard game where he sweeps and stalls on top. This is a great competition strategy and if he can implement his game, then he definitely has a strong chance of winning.
Black Adult Masculino Pesadissimo (Ultra Heavyweight - No Weight Limit)
There are only two competitors in this bracket making the match up a no brainer even for an IBJJF referee. Leo Santos, representing Ribiero Jiu Jitsu, and Roberto "Cyborg” Abreu of The Avengers.
The clear favorite is Cyborg. The Tornado Guard innovator has been on a tear this year. In my view, he had one of the best matches at this year’s Gi Mundials, when after being down significantly on points, he caught Braga Neto with a triangle in the waning moments of the match. Leo Santos is a physical specimen (Monstro - what exactly do you mean by this? - KingofCrazy) and a competitor, but I just don’t see him beating Cyborg.
Last but not least…
The four competitors we will be watching with the most interest on Sunday will be Jeremy "Geaga (Black Senior 1 Pena), Captain Caveman (Black Master Pena), Florentino “Nanico” Morales (Blue Midget Division), and Jason “La Bestia” Parry (Brown Super Pesado). These teammates of ours have put in a lot of time and hard work preparing for this tournament, and we wish them the best of luck.
Food for thought…
At the 2009 No Gi Worlds, we were treated with an influx of non BJJ martial artists. These competitors were unranked in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, the most noteworthy example was mixed martial artist Josh Barnett (Highlight comes at 2:50), who actually won the Pesadissimo Black Belt bracket last year, essentially foot locking everyone in his path.
Afterwards, the IBJJF (International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation) implemented a black belt registration program requiring black belts competing in IBJJF tournament to be officially certified. They charged money for the honor which brought them one step closer to:
1) Killing the golden goose, thereby opening the doors for a rival BJJ organization
2) Turning BJJ into another worthless martial art
Josh is an amazing grappler, and finally found a sport that doesn't test for steriods, but has no belt in BJJ, and I don't think he has any interest in getting one. Is it a coincidence that the IBJJF started mandating black belt certifications after last year’s tournament? Will this new process be known as the “Josh Barnett Rule"? Is the IBJJF interested in having the best grapplers compete, or are they too busy lighting cigars with R$100 bills and chuckling manically?