Another fantastic year of jiu jitsu is ahead of us and as per usual, the honours will be made in Lisbon by the European Open, which will start on the 21st and finishes on the 25th of January 2015. The European jiu jitsu championship is regarded as the 4th most important event in the IBJJF calendar, jiu jitsu’s most recognized federation.
The Brazilian Jiu Jitsu European Open is often seen as a way for up and coming black belts to “test the waters”, a first challenge against top level competition as most belt gradings tend to take place by the end of the year. This year will be no different. Expect big fireworks from the newcomers as the talent pool goes deep in among BJJ’s young guns.
Below is a rundown of what you should expect at the 2015 European Open in the black belt adult divisions.
In one of the smallest divisions in the male black belt category, our pick for European rooster weights couldn’t fall too far from Caio Terra’s ground. One of the most dominant figures in the sport he is surely the favorite, especially considering that Caio’s nemesis (Bruno Malfacine) did not sign up to the tournament. Expect a final between Caio and João Pedro Oliveira, but Koji Shibamoto and Takahito Yoshioka also have a shot at the podium.
The super featherweigh is an interesting division with talented grapplers, but the talented Miyao brothers are most definitely the favourites to win gold. Still, it will be a good chance to see the Paraná duo duel against tough veterans such as Dai Yoshioka and Thomas Lisboa.
Champion: Miyao Bros
Podium: Dai Yoshioka and Thomas Lisboa
Things start to really heat up in the featherweight division, a division where at least 3 men will start the comp with the same amount of favouritism.
The American Gianni Grippo had a hot and cold first year at black belt. Although he closed out the Pan American Championship with his team mate Mario Reis, there was a clear slowing down in Grippo’s pace by the end of the competitive year. It will be interesting to see where Grippo stands in the BJJ ranks at the moment, and the European is a perfect barometer for Gianni’s future aspirations for 2015.
Leo Saggioro, the famous Cascão, is a crafty veteran and was certainly one of the first picks to win gold in Lisbon. His name was on the list, but it looks like it is not on the brackets, if he competes he will pose a great threat to the top contenders.
Márcio André is another name set for big things in the sport. The Nova Uniao prodigy has spent some time teaching in the UAE, and it is hard to tell if that had affected his game at all, but all expect Márcio to make a statement in the division as the new man to look out for.
Other podium hopefuls are the veteran Gabriel Willcox, Rodrigo Cavaca black belt Gabriel Marangoni and Caio Terra’s brother Kim Terra.
Historically one of the most exciting divisions to watch, the lightweight division will not disappoint. Look out for AJ Agazarm, fresh out of his submission win at Polaris as the Gracie Barra prospect is always fun to watch and is always a candidate.
The division’s heavy favorite is Alliance’s top guard player, Mr Michael Langhi, but expect Ricardo Vieira’s assistant coach at Checkmat Copacabana, Sandrinho Vieira and team mate Gabriel Rollo as well as the aforementioned AJ Agazarm to try and stop the crafty veteran.
Another division with a range of candidates. GFTeam enters the under 82kg category with it’s (now) traditionally strong pair of Aces, Jaime Canuto and Vitor Silverio. The duo has stacked up medals competing in Brazil, and will be trying it’s best to prove the good form shown by the end of 2014. Though Silverio has arguably an easier bracket, Canuto will have to go through Charles Montenegro, Marcus Tinoco and JT Torres to reach the final, a tal order but not beyond Canuto’s capabilities.
Another competitor traditionally strong at the European Open is the veteran JT Torres. The Atos standout is arguably the favourite to win gold, with a solid game on bottom and on top, we expect a strong performance from the American.
Andre Galvao is the heavy favorite to win the under 88kg (194lbs) weight division. The Atos “team captain” brings his vast experience on the mats, having in Rodrigo Fajardo his toughest test on the way to the final, which may very well be fought against one of last years finalists.
It’s hard to see this title getting past Erberth Santos. Last weekend Santos proved his worth by winning the Brazil Pro National in his weight category and the open weight, against some very tough competitors. At the European he will face new challenges, being Tarcisio Jardim one of his toughest tests.
The super pesado this year lacks some depth in talent, it seems like the perfect set up for a final between Lagarto and Panza, which should be a great fight. An interesting point in this category is that there is a fair chance for the oldest competitor in the adult division Helvecio Penna (54 years young) to medal, if he gets passed Felipe Bueno.
Another newcomer with a very strong chance to make a statement in the division is Gabriel Lucas. The Checkmat competitor may steal the show, but he has some tough adversaries ahea, with the likes of Leo D’avila, Igor Silva or Ricardo Evangelista
Michele Nicolini showed now signs of slowing down at Polaris earlier this month. Expect the Checkmat representative to take gold once again.
Champion: Michele Nicolini
Podium: MacKenzie Dern, Laurence Cousin
Expect the Galvao family to take double gold at the Europeans as Angelica is seen as the favorite to win the tournament.
Champion: Angelica Galvao
Podium: Yasmine Clarissa, Maria Dolores and Anna Mayne
The Checkmat ladies team is strong as ever at the Europeans. Janni Larsson and Shanti Abelha are expected to close out the division.
Once again, Checkmat’s Ida Hanson is the strong favourite to win gold at the European.