26 JULY, 2020, São Paulo held one of the biggest professional jiu-jitsu events of the Summer. A great show overall with solid production and some of the biggest grappling names on the planet, including world and ADCC champions as well as old-school names and a solid mix of new versus old(ish) glories of the sport.
The event, named BJJ Stars, also added a different concept to the ruleset. Held with IBJJF style guidelines, the big difference last night was that in case of a draw, the last athlete to score would be handed the victory. An interesting rule used in freestyle wrestling with great success and a solid new application for our sport. We would say, however, that a difference in its use in freestyle wrestling is the inability of either player to walk backwards or play purely defensively. If stalling penalties are applied more aggressively in BJJ, then this rule may have a home here as well.
Below is a little snippet of the matches that took place at the BJJ Stars event.
– Marcos “Petcho” DEF. Alexandre Jesus via 4×0 pts, 2×1 adv, 1×1 pens
Petcho has struggled in the past to obtain a US visa, a reason that has left him out of the World and Pan Championships in the past. This lack of exposure to the international community is the only reason why he is not yet a bigger star among the American public as he should be. Once again Petcho showed his dominance against a very opponent and 2020 European Open medal placer, Alexandre de Jesus.
Two sweeps were enough to get the win. Alexandre did show his stand-up skills during the match with a beautiful drop-seoi. Unfortunately for the Calasans pupil, the throw was out of bounds and did not count.
– Renata Marinho DEF. Sabatha Laís via 4×2 pts
Entertaining match between two of the best female athletes currently residing in Brazil. Marinho controlled the tempo of the bout with her guard, tying Laís up in 50-50 guard and stifling the pressure passing of Sabatha.
– Gabriel Rollo DEF. Caio Ameida via choke from the back
Checkmat’s “Palito” dominated the match from start to finish. His great pressure passing set up the back take from 1/4 mount, which led to the match ending choke. Quick work by the veteran.
– Charles “Duende” DEF. Gustavo Ximú via 0x0 pts, 1×0 adv
Two old school athletes, well known in their home country for their past achievements, yet this was not an entertaining match in any sense of the word. Duende came to the match with a very defensive strategy. Ximú tried his hardest to add some action to this duel but Carles was not inclined to reciprocate.
During one of Gustavo’s attempts to open up from the bottom, Charles conquered half-guard and the advantage that comes with it. This was all it took, from then on Duende “threw the anchor” and the action was over.
– Meyram Maquine DEF. Cleber Sousa via 8×6 pts
From all available bouts on the card, we were most excited to watch this duel between two of the best academies in São Paulo, Guigo JJ, and Almeida JJ as well as two of the best athletes in the region. The match did not disappoint with Meyram having a big start from a passing stance, to which he added tons of offensive movement, proving why he is widely regarded as one of the best athletes in the new generation.
The 2019 Pan and Brazilian champion, Cleber “Clandestino” struggled to control Maquine’s relentless offensive output when working from the bottom. Evidence of Sousa’s struggle to control the 19YO athlete was his choice to pull 50-50 guard, with 90 seconds to finish, when losing the match by 4 points. He did manage to add points to the score-board, but not enough to steal the win.
– Anna Rodrigues DEF. Bianca Basílio via 0x0 pts, 3×1 adv
Anna started the match well, applying pressure from the stack pass and doing her best to avoid a leg battle with the footlocking expert Basílio. Unfortunately, she did end up in a tight-spot, getting stuck in an outside ashi-garami control where the match spent the majority of its course.
Rodrigues eventually cut loose from the leg entanglement, getting back to her passing strategy, almost conquering the full back control on Bianca. A solid victory for the young black belt over one of the top black belts in the world, albeit a very strategic battle with not a lot of action.
– Sergio Moraes DEF. Luis Marques via north-south choke
Former IBJJF World Champion, Sergio Moraes spent 7 minutes inside Marques’ closed guard with inactivity being the name of the game. After that initial period, “Serginho” was able to climb his way to half-guard, from where he applied his well-known pressure passing game, getting the 3 points and the north-south position from which he wrapped his arms around Luis’ neck for the tap.
– Isaque Bahiense DEF. Claudio Calasans via arm-in Ezekiel (Ezekiel from the back)
We must confess, we were not thrilled when we heard this match-up was being made. Although very accomplished, these athletes have met a couple of times in the past, and none of those were bouts we would like to revisit.
To our surprise, the match did start at a faster pace than what we envisioned, with Bahiense doing most of the offense early on while trying his hardest not to end in Calasan’s dreaded 50-50 guard. A position Claudio tends to use to slow down his opponents and the match. Unfortunately, Claudio did eventually get to fifty, proceeding to stifle the match for nearly 8 minutes.
With little over 1 minute to go Bahiense was finally able to untangle himself from Calasan’s legs and began his passing assault, quickly applying a text-book leg-drag pass to arm-in Ezekiel. A solid performance by Isaque as he never stopped working to keep the action going, an attitude well appreciated by the viewers.
– Gabriel Gonzaga “Napão” DEF. Leo Leite via armbar
Masters matches tend to be slower, but this was a truly interesting technical fight spent mostly standing. One of the high points of the match was Napão’s “tornado throw” on the former Brazilian National Squad judoka. The same throw made famous by Roberto Cyborg on the IBJJF circuit.
Leite had some good throwing attempts of his own, with a drop seoi nage and a well-timed osotogari and ouchi gari – none that scored full points due to BJJ’s control rule.
In the final minute of the match Leo Leite applied a beautiful tai-otochi throw, though as Napão hit the ground, he immediately reversed the position with an underhook, ending up on mount in the scramble and jumping on Leite’s arm for the finish. Fantastic match by these two athletes.
– Patrick Gaudio DEF. Erberth Santos via 0x0 pts, 2×1 adv, 2×2 penalties
Those who were expecting a lot of aggression and fast-paced exchanges between these two talented athletes were left disappointed. Spent mostly on the feet, this was an uneventful tactical battle with Gaudio doing most of the scarce offensive attempts. With about 2 mins to go, Gaudio pulled to single X guard, attempting a beautiful kneebar from this position. Erberth reciprocated but that was all she wrote.
– Lucas “Hulk” Barbosa DEF. Leandro Lo via 2×0 pts, 5×0 adv
Barbosa came out of the gates like a “bat out of hell”, with a very aggressive grip exchange with Lo, using his dominant collar control to apply a beautiful sasae style foot trip from the drag which gave him the two.
Not resting on his laurels, Lucas continued his onslaught, placing tons of pressure on Leandro and nearly passing Lo’s infamous guard on two occasions. Barbosa’s unorthodox passing stance forced Lo to play lasso guard, a position that hasn’t been too common in the 5x World Champion’s game and from which Leandro was unable to pose any decent offense.
Near the end, Barbosa managed to get the back mount on Lo after a passing attempt, though surprisingly no points were awarded. Lucas then attempted the submission but the clock ran out before any real danger was set. Brilliant performance by Hulk and one of the best matches of the night.
– Kaynan Duarte DEF. João Gabriel Rocha via 6×4 pts, 0x2 adv
Duarte applied his strategy very swiftly, pulling guard and placing Rocha in his 5050-guard within 30 seconds of play. There the two players spent nearly 7 dreaded minutes, of which, to his credit, João Gabriel tried his hardest to escape.
João Gabriel did escape the Atos player’s 5050-position but Kaynan quickly regained the control. In trying to escape the fifty guard for a second time, Rocha injured his knee. João remained in the match, though visibly diminished with 2:40 mins left on the clock.
Always the warrior, Gabriel escaped again from the guard near the end, this time being behind on the scoreboard. The match was stood up, Gabriel tried his hardest to take Duarte down (while limping), Kaynan defended until the end and got the victory.