KISSIMMEE, FLORIDA, USA, APRIL 09, set the tone for the black belt division of the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation (IBJJF) Pan American Championships, one of the main events on the federation’s international schedule.
Despite the importance of the tournament, the event did fail to peak the interest of a few of the sport’s main stars, a sign that the IBJJF has not been able to re-gain the terrain it lost to its rival promotions during the COVID19 pandemic, something that should be addressed sooner rather than later. Among the many names missing from the event were Ana Carolina Vieira, Rafaela Guedes, Lucas Hulk, Gustavo Batista, Bianca Basilio, Luiza Monteiro, Mason Fowler, Isaque Bahiense, Gabriel Arges, Matheus Gabriel, Renato Canuto, Kaynan Duarte, Dominique Bell, to name a few.
Luckily for the fans, there is no shortage of talent in the sport and plenty of them did show up, particularly in the male divisions, all of which had strong showings, particularly the featherweights who were stacked to the brim with world-class athletes.
Despite there not being any massive upsets thus far, we have seen the early exits of a few big names who lost to other, equally known athletes. Among the noteworthy exits were those of Diogo Reis (Melqui Galvao), Yuta Shimada (Marcelo Garcia), Kennedy Maciel (Cobrinha), Jordan Vaisman (GB), AJ Agazarm (GB), Israel Sousa (GFT), Roberto Jimenez (Studio 76), Guthierry Barbosa (Carlson Gracie), Murilo Santana (Unity), and Fellipe Trovo (Atos). Below is a short description of the events on day 1 of the adult black belt divisions.
One of the matches of the day was the back and forth clash between showman Estevan Martinez and Alliance’s Tadiyah Danforth. The new black belt (Danforth) was indeed ahead up until a final scramble ended with the ZR Team representative on a crucifix choke. Also, fun to watch was Atos’ Osamah Almarwai who looked relentless out there today.
– Estevan Martinez x Kevin Martincowski
– Thalison Soares x Matheus Rossi
– Italo Bonfim x Frank Cespedes
– Carlos Oliveira x Osamah Almarwai
The match that could have easily been the final ended up taking place in the second elimination round of the light-feathers, that of #1 seed Meyram Maquiné (Dream Art) and one of the sport’s rising stars, Diego Reis (Melqui Galvão). Despite being highly anticipated due to both these athletes’ offensive potential, the clash ended up being a very uneventful 50-50 exchange that ended with Meyram’s arm raised.
– Keven Carrasco x Meyram Maquiné
– Tomoyuki Hashimoto x Pedro Dias
– Huthayfah Penney x Hiago George
– Lucas Pinheiro x Malachi Edmond
Absolutely nowhere to run in this division. Every elimination round match could have been a headliner at a professional show. Outstanding level of talent.
Among the many fun matches on offer were Richar Nogueira’s win over Kennedy Maciel (4×2), the frenetic clash between Isaac Doederlein and Israel Sousa (4×2 Isaac), Nick Salles beating Bianca Basilio’s brother (and rising star) Raúl Basilio by an advantage, and Alex Sodré x Marcelo Garcia’s Yuta Shimada, a razor-thin match that went to Alex by the closest of margins.
– Alex Sodré x Isaac Doederlein
– Thiago Macedo x Nick Salles
– Daniel Maira x Diego Sodré
– Richar Nogueira x Jamil Hill-Taylor
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Despite Johnatha Alves’ favoritism in the division, the man of the hour this Saturday was IBJJF World No-Gi Champion, Hugo Marques. Not known for his aggressive style, the former Soul Fighters athlete (now with 617 Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu) came in like a bat out of hell, showing aggression and killer instinct. Marques took out two very tough lightweights of Checkmat, namely Gabriel Ferreira and Marcelo Fausto.
Another lightweight that came in very strong was Andy Murasaki who beat two of the division’s toughest challengers in Victor Nithael (Nova União) and Johnny Tama (Alliance).
– Andy Murasaki x Sergio Soares
– Igor Feliz x Hugo Marques
– Johnatha Alves x Daniel Diniz
– Natan Chueng x Rodrigo Freitas
Roberto Jimenez had a tough match against Brazilian newcomer Pedro Maia but managed to secure the submission near the end while putting on a great, aggressive performance. Despite being one of the most fun athletes to watch out there, Jimenez was not able to surpass the #1 middleweight in the sport, Tainan Dalpra as they faced in the second round of the bracket. The match ended in a quick submission for Dalpra via triangle choke.
An interesting addition to the middleweight division was Australia’s (former) lightweight, Levi Jones-Leary. The Unity talent put on a wonderful performance against the durable Austin Oranday, taking the win via the rare baratoplata submission.
– Mathias Luna x Leonardo Lara
– Jeferson Guaresi x Levi Jones-Leary
– Felipe Cesar x Ronaldo Junior
– Eduardo Avelar x Tainan Dalpra
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The return of one of jiu-jitsu’s most accomplished athletes to the IBJJF Pans, Mr. Leandro Lo, an addition that was seen with great enthusiasm by fans of the sport. Lo stepped on the mats of the event for the first time since 2019 and had no problems defeating GF Team veteran Bruno Tosto. He will, however, have a very interesting clash in the 1/4 finals tomorrow against the prospect Jansen “Nenego” Gomes of Checkmat. Nenego dominated Christian Yost in his black belt Pans debut by putting double digits on the scoreboard and securing a submission win.
– Leandro Lo x Jansen Gomes
– Sebastian Rodriguez x Alex Munis
– Rafael Paganini x Manuel Ribamar
– Yan Lucas x Matheus Diniz
A large heavyweight division saw excellent performances by Brazilian rising stars Rider Zuchi (Ns Brotherhood) and Pedro Machado (R1ng) who beat very competent opponents on their way to the quarter-finals. Equally impressive were the more established names, AKA Adam Wardzinski, Matheus Diniz, Pedro Marinho, and André Porfirio who advanced with big submission wins.
– Pedro Machado x Rider Zuchi
– Matheus Diniz x Adam Wardzinski
– Pedro Elias x Dimitrius Souza
– Pedro Marinho x André Porfirio
Two exciting matches in the super-heavies with the favorites Anderson Munis and Marcus “Scooby” Ribeiro advancing with relative ease.
– Erich Munis x Wilson Almeida
– Fellipe Andrew x Anderson Munis
– Devhonte Johnson x Marcus Ribeiro
– Vinicius Trator advances to the semi-final due to his opponent missing weight.
The smallest division in the adult male category, only one first-round match and the division was all set for Sunday.
– Igor Schneider x Roosevelt Sousa
– Orlando Baccino x Gutemberg Pereira
– Wallace Costa x Roberto Abreu
– Davi Cabral x Austin Baker
A very fun division that mixed quite a few of Brazil’s rising stars such as Wallace Costa, Marcus Ribeiro, and Roosevelt Sousa with more established talent, namely Fellipe Andrew, Adam Wardzinski, Pedro Marinho, and Erich Munis.
Despite the variety of names on the bracket, it was all down to the “super-heavies” Andrew and Munis, who will battle it out tomorrow in the final.
– Fellipe Andrew def. Wallace Costa via decision
– Erich Munis def. Roosevelt Sousa via advantage (0x0)
– Fellipe Andrew x Erich Munis
Despite the great talent possessed in this division, the rooster weights came in in very small numbers. A total of one match was all it took Mayssa Bastos to make it to the final. She beat Jhenifer Aquino of Atos by 4 points.
– Mayssa Bastos x Lavinia Barbosa
Another small division saw AOJ’s Jessa Khan submit Fight Sports’ Sofia Amarante. She will be facing GFT’s Thamires Aquino in the final, tomorrow.
– Jessa Khan x Thamires Aquino
Yet again, history repeats itself here with a small division. Here we saw a more aggressive performance by Anna Rodrigues compared to what we have previously seen from the Dream Art champion. Rodrigues came out very strong, submitting Sophia Dalpra of AOJ, and will now have a very interesting battle against Amanda Monteiro Canuto who, herself, had a tough clash with Larissa Campos in the semifinal.
– Anna Rodrigues x Amanda Monteiro
Arguably, the most fun female division in the tournament, the lightweights did not come in big numbers, but they did come with big talent. Nathalie Ribeiro, Ffion Davies, Margot Ciccarelli, Thamires Monteiro, and more were all part of this exciting division.
Despite what appeared to be (at first) a devastating injury during the semi-final, Nathalie Ribeiro was able to recompose herself and dominate her opponent to secure a spot in the final. Equally dominating was Ffion’s performance over Margot Ciccarelli, winning via submission against this very talented Unity Academy athlete. This, after a mellow performance against Checkmat’s Thamires Monteiro in the quarter finals.
– Ffiona Davies x Nathalie Ribeiro
One of the performances of the day was that of Chloe McNally of Unity JJ. The savvy guard player came in very strong taking dominant wins over Suellen Souza (choke from mount) and the durable Vannessa Griffin (TLI) by 10×6 in a fun match to follow.
McNally will have a very tough challenge tomorrow vs Thamara Ferreira, one of Brazil’s most impressive athletes. Ferreira had one match to reach the final, taking the win by 6 points over Natalia Zumba.
– Thamara Ferreira x Chloe McNally
Another short story here with Maria Malyjasiak taking a win over newcomer Fernanda Cristo via 2 points on her way to the final.
– Maria Malyjasiak x Izadora Cristina
Good performances by Melissa Cueto and Maggie Grindatti, who won one match each on the way to the final. Cueto defeated one of the rising stars of the sport, Larissa Dias by one advantage while also having very strong matches in the open weight, taking the current world champion Gabrieli Pessanha to the limit in her semi-final of the division there, where she lost to a split decision.
– Melissa Cueto x Maggie Grindatti
A tiresome division for jiu-jitsu fans, and a weight class in serious need of fresh talent. Another event, another final between Gabrieli Pessanha and Yara Soares. This will be the 16th clash (and 17th if we count the upcoming open class) between these two super-heavyweights since reaching the black belt level, 2.5 years ago, and only once was a match between these two been decided by more than two points during this period… furthermore, that lonely event was decided by 3 points. This is, obviously, no fault of Pessanha or Soares who are the best grapplers on the planet right now, just the ramblings of a fan who hopes new challengers may emerge soon to make the division more appealing.
– Gabrieli Pessanha x Yara Soares
FEMALE, OPEN WEIGHT
Two matches per finalist sealed the deal for the open-weight class with Soares looking particularly dominant in her outings.
– Gabrieli Pessanha def. Melissa Cueto via decision
– Yara Soares def. Maria Malyjasiak via bow and arrow choke
– Gabrieli Pessanha x Yara Soares