MAY 1, 2022, SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL, was the backdrop for another edition of the professional jiu-jitsu promotion BJJ Stars. With an unrivaled production quality in the sport, the bar was once again raised by this incredible team effort that brought forth not only a spectacle inside the squared lines of the combat arena but also outside, with a whole apparatus of traditional Japanese style drumming, top-notch info systems, post-match interviews, and high caliber commentary.
Equally worthy of praise is the company’s resistance to the no-gi trend. When the vast majority of promotions insist on supporting solely this ruleset, BJJ Stars has kept itself separated from the herd, reaping the rewards with a vast range of talent that is available in the gi. Athletes who are eager to compete and show their worth on an amazing platform like this one.
Despite focusing on the gi tournament (middleweight Grand Prix), the event had a few selected no-gi matches following the ADCC ruleset, this was a celebration of the recent partnership sealed between these two well respected grappling promotions, a coalition achieved through the efforts of both its leaders, namely Fernando “Fepa” Lopes (BJJS) and Mo Jassim (ADCC).
A fast-paced match as expected between these two dynamic athletes. Hulk started taking Jimenez to the ground with a high amplitude throw, straight to a tight armbar but Roberto Escaped the submission, landed on top, and attacked Lucas’ back with a close attempt. Barbosa survived on time to put some points on the scoreboard from a sweep and attack Jimenez’s back himself, a close effort that was also unsuccessful at full control. A very fun bout to watch.
– LEONARDO LARA DEF. WALLISSON “TARTA” OLIVEIRA via 5×2 pts
A remake of last year’s Brazilian Nationals middleweight final, this was somewhat of a derby in football (soccer) terminology as this was a battle between two historic São Paulo teams and two of the state’s most well-known and loved athletes.
For the reasons stated above, this was also the clash that brought the most intensity from the crowd. Luckily, both Lara and Tarta were well aware of what was at stake and this was by no means a stale match. Every inch gained between these two was hard-fought with Wallisson bringing his A-game of top pressure at the start against Lara’s relentless half-guard sweeps. Despite this being very close overall, near the end, Lara managed to finish a tight pressure pass and seal the deal for Almeida Jiu-Jitsu.
Galvão started aggressive in the stand-up but could not phase Lo who attempted to slow Mica’s impetus with his grips, forcing the young Manauara to pull closed guard. Although many would have been frustrated to use their plan B, this wasn’t the case with Mica as he continued pressing on from the closed guard, attacking Leandro’s arms and attempting several lumberjack sweeps on the veteran 7x world champion, one of which granted him an advantage.
Throughout the match, we saw Mica pressing forward and Lo making his best efforts to slow the pace of the match any way he could. Despite being one advantage up near the end, the young student of Melqui Galvão was not happy to rest on his laurels and kept a relentless pace in his attacks, one after the other, never allowing space for Lo to find himself in the match.
Machado with a solid guard-pull early on, taking away Oliveira’s A-game (the open-guard) while applying one of his own most utilized weapons, the lasso guard.
Despite being taken away from his bread-and-butter, Mauricio is not a one-trick-poney and his passing game, despite being somewhat tactical, was very much on point as he got close to a pass on a couple of occasions. This was not the most fun clash to watch on the card, nevertheless a very close victory for Mauricio.
Early double underhooks/folding guard-pass and immediately seeking the submission from side control was Lucas Barbosa “Hulk” full work here. Less than a one-minute path to the submission, it doesn’t get much more dominant than this.
Another masterful display of tactics and technique by Maurício Oliveira had the Alliance talent up by 2 points early on, sadly, an old injury appeared to re-occur midway through the clash, and victory was awarded to Galvão.
Truly impressive by Galvão who was able to deny Hulk his usual berserker start by trading with Lucas “strength for strength” and takedown attempt for takedown attempt. The strategy by the teenager appeared simple: to not end up on bottom early in the match and, if possible, take the Atos team frontman to the ground.
Although both athletes spent a lot of energy, the match was not particularly fun to follow early on as no big movements were completed. Those “simmer” dynamics lasted until the final minute of the clash when the 18-year-old Manaus star pressed on the pedal, taking Barbosa down with a single leg, forcing Lucas to turtle to avoid the points, this way exposing his back to Galvão. The opportunity did not go unmissed as a beautiful back take ensued, as did a bow and arrow choke for the finish.
Mica beat two of the most iconic medium-heavyweight athletes in the modern-day history of our sport, an epic achievement by any athlete’s standards, let alone a fresh 18YO black belt.
Overall, these were very fun matches with aggressive and fun exchanges that gave fans another glimpse of the style of grappling played in Brazil, one more heavily reliant on jiu-jitsu dynamics based on traditional positional battles that differ from the more leg-lock centric style often seen in North America. All matches were fun to watch with Petcho x Protássio being, arguably, the match of the night.
– Mariana Rolszt def. Thaís Loureiro via armbar
– Demian Maia def. Alex “Cowboy” Oliveira via triangle choke