FEBRUARY 20, 2022, ROME – ITALY. As we had referenced in our “Day 1” report (here), the long wait for the post-covid19 European Open is finally over as grappling’s finest returned to the Old Continent once again for one of the most prestigious gi jiu-jitsu events on the global circuit. The tournament ran continuously under the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation (IBJJF) umbrella from 2004 to 2020 in Portugal, but the pandemic managed to put a stop to that glorious run, forcing the organization to halt the prestigious event in 2021 and return it this year by way of Rome (where the European No-Gi tournament had traditionally taken place).
Still afflicted by the rules and regulations adherent to the pandemic, the 2022 edition of the European Open of Jiu-Jitsu did suffer in numbers of athletes, nevertheless, good matches were plentiful, and there was enough firepower in the adult black belt division to illuminate a small European town.
EUROPE ON THE RISE
One of the idiocracies of the tournament was the larger numbers of European talent which many don’t get to see compete in the North American circuit as regularly. These European athletes conquered 37% of the medals at the adult black belt level. A significant number, considering American athletes only amounted to 7% of the medal share in that division.
Out of 20 adult black belt medals, the Europeans managed to obtain 3 gold medals, a record. With the champions being Espen Mathiesen (Norway), Bruno Lima (Portugal), and Adam Wardzinski (Poland). Below is the full list of the 2022 European Open Champions at the adult black belt level.
MALE ADULT BB CHAMPS:
Rooster: Thalison Soares (Cicero Costha)
Light-Feather: Paulo Miyao (Cicero Costha)
Feather: Diego Sodré (Nova União)
Light: Espen Mathiesen (KMR)
Middle: Tainan Dalpra (AOJ)
Medium-Heavy: Bruno Lima (AMA)
Heavy: Adam Wardzinski (Checkmat)
Super-Heavy: Fellipe Andrew (Alliance)
Ultra-Heavy: Rafael Lovato Jr. (6-Blades)
Absolute: Fellipe Andrew (Alliance)
FEMALE ADULT BB CHAMPS:
Rooster: Thais Loureiro (Atos)
Light-Feather: Mayssa Bastos (Unity)
Feather: Anna Rodrigues (Dream Art)
Light: Nathalie Ribeiro (Checkmat)
Middle: Thalyta Lima (Vision BJJ)
Medium-Heavy: Maggie Grindatti (Fight Sports)
Super-Heavy: Gabrieli Pessanha (InFight)
Absolute: Gabrieli Pessanha (InFight)
For a short report on the European Open action, check out the report below.
The division had many interesting names on the roster but, sadly, too many from Cicero Costha’s academy forfeited their placements on the brackets for their teammates making this a dire division to cover.
Easy day for Thalison who beat one athlete (Lucas Feitosa) on his way to the finals via crab-ride > back control > choke sequence. The same he utilized in the final against Welerson Gonçalves.
– Thalison Soares DEF. Welerson Gonçalves via choke from the back
Great day for the two Cicero Costha black belts who looked fantastic on their way through to the final. Paulo finished rising Dutch black belt Daniel Groot in the first round going on to advance through to the final with two wins via advantages.
You couldn’t have picked two more dominant finalists for the featherweight division. Aggressive and beautiful grappling is what we saw all weekend from both Isaac and Diego on their way through to the final. For the last match, we expected much more poised performances from these two, given how much was on the line, and how even the skillset was there. We were half mistaken there. Doederlein was set on offense mode and that showed in the final as well.
Working from the top, Isaac made several attempts to push the pace, with Diego continuously slowing down the American.
In the end, what appeared to be a very shallow/performative submission attempt near the last few seconds of the match earned Sodre the advantage and the win. Overall, this appeared to be a poor decision from the referees who failed to penalize a defensive player for 9:50 seconds of a match but opted to reward a submission that did not warrant any defensive motion from Isaac. Nevertheless, a worthy champion given how dominant his previous performances had been.
One of the stars of the event was Marcelo Fausto. The young Checkmat newcomer submitted AJ Agazarm in the first round and Dinu Bucalet in the second while also beating one of the division’s favorites in Igor Feliz. Superb showing for the Thiago Abreu protege.
In the semi-finals, Fausto met berimbolo master, Espen Mathiesen in a spectacular clash with tons of submission attempts and back attacking action at 100 mph for the first 6 minutes of the match. Both athletes finally slowed down for the final quarter of the bout after fatigue crept in, but a great show by both gentlemen.
Praise should be given to Espen, at the Euros in 2022, a tournament where he had lost in the first round ever since reaching the black belt level back in 2018. This was truly a spectacular performance by the Norwegian player, through and through.
– Espen Mathiesen DEF. Marcelo Fausto via 4×3 advantages (4×4 pts)
The match everyone wanted to see happen did not disappoint. A huge clash between Norway and Brazil in the form of Tommy Langaker and Tainan Dalpra at the Euros this year.
As expected, big scrambles during the first 2 minutes of the match with Dalpra getting the upper hand early. Langaker did not give up, firing back and making the score even once again. Another few sequences in and Tainan managed to establish top control. Working from the top, Dalpra was able to work his way towards the tap. A very enjoyable match to follow, as always with these two.
A very balanced division with plenty of European talent. Lima had the most impressive run to the final, given who he faced and beat on the way there. This included names such as Luca Anacoreta and Matheus Spirandeli.
Although more known for his butterfly guard game, Bruno attempted his pressure passing game throughout the tournament with great success. The same tactic he offered to ZR Team’s Szilard Sule of coach Max Carvalho in the final.
– Bruno Lima DEF. Szilard Sule via 2×0 advantages (0x0 pts)
Polka Presja king, Adam Wardzinski cruised his way through to the final with submissions and clean jiu-jitsu. On the other side of the bracket, Atos’ Dom Bell had a tougher run beating Brazilian up and comer Neocicero Barbosa via decision and Braulio Estima’s pupil, Jakub Zajkowski of Poland (stationed in England) by 3 points in the very final moments of their semi-finals match.
In the final, Adam started off very well, with another clean sweep and near mount. Bell came back with a fine show of heart and determination, proving he was still in the game and forcing Adam to a tough very challenge.
Great displays of jiu-jitsu by both finalists, who benefited from the absences of Renan Cruz (injury) and Erich Munis (unknown) from the quarters on their runs to the finals.
Andrew was one of the most exciting athletes of the whole tournament with 5 submissions and one win by 22 point difference. Absolutely overwhelming performance in Rome. Trator was more reserved in his campaign (as is his style) but certainly a worthy finalist.
A beautiful performance by the veteran grappler, Rafael Lovato Junior. Truly spectacular to see this young man still in the game after such a lengthy and revered career. Lovato earned three submissions this weekend on his way through to the final, beating the best Brazil and Europe had to offer.
MALE OPEN WEIGHT
Fantastic run by both the finalists of the open-weight class as they had to overcome quite a few heavy-hitters to get there. Andrew in particular managed to submit big names of our sport such as Matheus Felipe, Perttu Tepponen, and Renan Cruz, to name a few.
FEMALE ROOSTER WEIGHT
A 2 person division. Not a big story to tell, a fairly uneventful match, and a decision win for recent black belt, Thais Loureiro.
– Thais Loureiro DEF. via Kaori Hernandez decision (0x0 pts)
Arguably the top P4P athlete in the world right now, Bastos came up in weight to challenge at light feather. Two matches, two quick submissions for the Unity JJ representative.
– Mayssa Bastos DEF. Rose El Sharouni via armbar
Anna Rodrigues is one of the most tactical athletes in the sport, not always one of the most exciting to watch, Rodrigues’ focus is on the win and win she does. The Dream Art representative had a tough run to the final, taking out Andreia Cavalcante via submission and then facing the tough fresh black belt that is Poland’s Zofia Szawernowska in a very close match won on experience alone by the Brazilian. In the final Rodrigues’ experience was once again at work against another fresh black belt in former brown belt IBJJF world champ Gabriela Pereira of Vision BJJ.
– Anna Rodrigues DEF. Zofia Szawernowska via 2×0 advantages (0x0 pts)
– Gabriela Pereira advanced via WO
– Anna Rodrigues DEF. Gabriela Pereira via 1×0 advantage (0x0 pts)
This was, arguably, one of the most fun weight classes in the female division on paper, with names such as Ffion Davies, Larissa Paes, Margot Ciccarelli, and Tata Ribeiro. Sadly, that did not materialize as many athletes failed to show up to the tournament in Rome.
As for the matches, the division favorite came in strong with veteran performance over hot Unity talent, Margot Ciccarelli, advancing through to a dominant final versus Maia.
– Nathalie Ribeiro DEF. Margot Cicarelli via 3×1 advantages (2×2 pts)
– Janaina Maia advanced via WO
– Nathalie Ribeiro DEF. Janaina Maia via 10×0 pts
Another star in the making for coach Paulo Rezende in Thalyta Lima. Rezende has brought us names such as Marcelo Garcia, Reinaldo Ribeiro, and Matheus Diniz in the past, through his strong workgroup in Poço de Caldas, Brazil, and recent black belt Thalyta appears to be another rising star from the well-known camp.
After reaching the final of the open-weight class (where she beat Anna Rodrigues), Lima went to work in the middleweight division with 2 tough matches before meeting the very talented American, Erin Johnson of Colorado.
– Thalyta Lima DEF. Luciane dos Santos
– Erin Johnson advanced via WO
– Thalyta Lima DEF. Erin Johnson via 8×0 pts
The black belt division has been a hard one for Grindatti to adapt after a stellar career in the colored belts. This weekend appeared to be somewhat of a redemption moment for the talented athlete who deservingly won the medium-heavy weight class.
– Magdalena Loska advanced via WO
– Maggie Grindatti DEF. Raiane Mara via 4×1 advantages (0x0 pts)
– Maggie Grindatti DEF. Magdalena Loska via 7×0
2 person division, dominant win for Pessanha.
– Gabrieli Pessanha DEF. Claire-France Thevenon via choke from the back.
FEMALE OPEN WEIGHT
We had alluded to Thalyta’s glorious run at the Euros, a perfect international debut for the fresh black belt. Lima did not succumb to the bright lights in the open weight final against Pessanha, arguably the most dominant super-heavyweight competitor of her generation, putting a strong performance in the first 5 minutes of the clash. After this initial period, Gabrieli appeared to take control of the action, pressing forward until she achieved the finish.
– Gabrieli Pessanha DEF. Nathalie Ribeiro via 1×0 advantage (0x0 pts)
– Thalyta Lima DEF. Anna Rodrigues via 2×0 pts
– Gabrieli Pessanha DEF. Thalyta Lima via Armbar