SUNDAY, OCTOBER 11, 2020, was, arguably, the most important day of the jiu-jitsu of the year, as it was then that the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation’s Pan American Championship took place, the biggest tournament in the sport given the COVID19 pandemic limitations. This tournament, organized by the IBJJF, gathered some of the most talented gi grapplers on the planet, particularly in the adult, black belt division. This division brought forward the best of the younger and older generations of the professional circuit. For the full results of each individual weight class, check below.
MALE ADULT BLACK BELTS
A huge event for the male black belt athletes who showed up in good numbers and, even midway through a pandemic. Among the standouts of the tournament were the Nagai brothers (Jackson and Samuel), who were making their black belt debuts on a big IBJJF platform. Both performed incredibly well as you will see in our division-by-division analysis.
Another big name to come out of the event who was making his debut in a big tournament was light-featherweight Josh Cisneros. What a tournament he had! Cisneros defeated the division’s favorite, Paulo Miyao, and submitted an array of professional competitors on his way to the final.
Male Black Belt Team Medal Tally:
#1 Checkmat – 9
#2 Atos – 7
#3 Gracie Barra – 3, Rodrigo Pinheiro – 3, Alliance – 3
#4 Carlson Gracie – 2, Unity – 2, GFT – 2
#5 Cleber JJ – 1, AOJ – 1, PSLPB – 1, Undisputed – 1, Ares – 1, LEAD – 1, Kimura – 1, Brasa – 1, Luiz Palhares – 1
No elimination rounds in the roosterweight division, with solely 8 competitors. The event saw another prospect from Manaus, the recently promoted Willis Nunes make a power play in the division….
– Lucas Pinheiro (Atos) def. David Zennario (Masterskya) via toe hold
– Willis Nunes (Checkmat) def. Matheus Magalhães (GFT) via 10×4
– Jonas Andrade (PSLPB) advanced – opponent no showed
– Rene Rivera (Undisputed) def. Lee Rosenfield (Form JJ) via armbar
Great first rounds by Josh Cisneros and Paulo Dias, who defeated very tough opponents on their way to the finals. Cisneros in particular shocked the BJJ community as a fresh black belt by beating the reigning champion Paulo Miyao via decision. Miyao is now 3-4 in his last 7 matches. Pedro Dias and Josh had a very tough final, with Pedro playing his traditional defensive style game and Cisneros on the offense.
– Taniel de Jesus (Ares) x Igor Mancebo (Renato Tavares)
– Pedro Dias (Carlson) def. Bebeto Oliveira (GFT) via 2×0
– Elijah Tagalog (GB) def. Marcus Beddor (Pedro Sauer) via
– Josh Cisneros (Cleber JJ) def. Paulo Miyao (PSLPB)
Outstanding displays during day 1 of the tournament by Kennedy Maciel, Matheus Gabriel, and, the man of the hour, new black belt Sam Nagai. The brand Checkmat black belt went through two incredible competitors in Danilo Moreira and the #2 seed of the division – Isaac Doederlein. Samuel turned on the heat against the talented Alliance athlete, putting 17 points on the scoreboard, against Isaac’s 2.
Another one of the featherweight upsets was Thiago Macedo, who beat Gianni Grippo, another of the division’s main figures. Macedo won the first two matches by submission, but, against Grippo, he scored first and then proceeded to survive an absolute blitzkrieg of attacks by the New Yorker, Grippo. Back attacks, sweeps, and submission attempts to which the Rodrigo Pinheiro student held strong, surviving the onslaught for the win. This MO was rinsed and repeated by Macedo over and over in the following matches against the aforementioned Samuel Nagai, and in the final, against current world champion Matheus Gabriel, where he scored first and then playing solely defensively for the rest of the match, surviving a barrage of attacks showing heart and tactical knowledge.
– Matheus Gabriel (Checkmat) def. Kennedy Maciel (Alliance) via 2×0
– Richar Nogueira (Rodrigo Pinheiro JJ) def. João Mendes “Bisnaga” (Atos) via 0x0, 1×0 adv
– Samuel Nagai (Checkmat) def. Emilio Hernandez (Zenith) via choke from back
– Thiago Macedo (Rodrigo Pinheiro) def. Gianni Grippo (Alliance) via 4×0
In a strange turn of events, a tough route to the 1/4 finals, Jonnatas Gracie advanced straight through to the semis due to both athletes from the opposite side of the bracket (Jeremy Jackson & Edwin Najmi) not showing up to compete.
The male lightweight division was one of the toughest brackets of the tournament. No easy matches here. Johnatha Alves was very sharp here, submitting two very worthy challengers in Bruno Valdivino and Alexandre Molinaro in the early rounds, going up against one of the best guard players of the previous generation in Rodrigo Freitas at the 1/4 finals.
On bracket 2, we almost saw the upset of the year as Alexander Lane looked close to submitting Renato Canuto with an armbar in the first round of the tournament. Lane – of BJJ Revolution, was on the submission for almost 2 minutes, going from transition to transition, but Canuto was too experienced and too tricky to get caught. Renato escaped and submitted Alexander under regulation time. Canuto advanced to the second day where he faced a very savvy competitor in Paulo Gabriel of Gracie Humaitá.
– Johnatha Alves (AOJ) def. Rodrigo Freitas (RFJJ) via 3×0
– Jonnatas Gracie (Atos) x N/A
– Michael Liera Jr (Atos) def. Marcio Andre (NU) via 6×6 pts, 4×3 adv
– Renato Canuto (Checkmat) def. Paulo Gabriel (GH) via split decision
The Nagai brothers were on fire throughout the tournament, the first time either was competing at a major IBJJF tournament since reaching the black belt rank. Jackson was one of the last seeded competitors in the division but looked outstanding on his way to the quarter-finals, with 1 match won by submission (Rehan Muttalib) and another on points (Carlos Souza). As Nagai progressed he caused another Pans upset by submitting one of the division’s favorites – Guthierry Barbosa in the semi-final, after going over Nicolas Ospina in the quarters.
On the other side of the bracket, Ronaldo Junior put on a show once again, particularly against world silver medal Lucas Valente. Lucas is well known for his unpassable guard, but Junior paid no mind to labels, passing Valente 3x on his way through to the final. In the final, against Nagai, Ronaldo opted to fight fire with fire, dealing with Jackson’s intensity by turning the heat even further in the early minutes of the match. Great performance by the young competitor in a final of the fresh new black belts.
– Jackson Nagai (Checkmat) def. Nicolas Ospina (Studio 76) via armbar
– Guthierry Barbosa (Carlson Gracie) def. Vinicius Garcia (Richardson JJ)
– Lucas Valente (GB) def. Lucas Valle (R1ngs) via decision
– Ronaldo Jr (Atos) def. Felipe Cesar (Unity) via 0x0 pts, 8×2 adv
A great return to the big stage by Otavio Sousa, who steamrolled his first opponent on his way to the quarter-finals. Also with fantastic performances were Jake Watson and Gabriel Almeida, who submitted their way through the 2nd day of the event.
Although the quarter-finals went without any major upsets, the semis were quite the head spinner. In the Ribamar x Luna semi-final, Manuel was ahead until the very last second of the match. After scoring 2 points early on, “Riba” coasted for the rest of the match, spending 2 minutes inside Matheus’ closed guard with very defensive maneuvers. Near the end of the match (13 seconds to go), he received his second penalty, and, as the match ended, he appeared to have received another phantom penalty, which we and the spectators did not fully comprehend for which fault. Nevertheless, the decision was made and Luna advanced via penalties.
– Otavio Sousa (GB) def. Joseph Watson (GB) via armbar
– Gabriel Almeida (Checkmat) def. Henrique Silva (Integração) via toe hook
– Matheus Luna (Checkmat) def. Jake Watson (Maracaba) via 0x0 pts, 2×1 adv
– Manuel Ribamar (Rodrigo Pinheiro) x Ronnie Pace (Royce Gracie) via choke from back
Gustavo Batista was on fire throughout the tournament, both in the open weight and heavyweight divisions, showing a much more submission-oriented game than he had in the past. Proving he is not done evolving as a competitor (there’s a scary thought for the division’s contenders).
On the other side of the bracket, Horlando Monteiro welcomed Mikey Musumeci to the heavyweight division in the first round. Monteiro dominated the match from a top position, passing Musumeci’s guard and submitting with an arm triangle. He went on to face the fresher Dom Bell of Atos in the semi-finals. Dominique had a strong tournament up until then, but showed a much more aggressive side against the Brazilian (currently residing in Hawaii), ending the clash via submission.
– Gustavo Batista (Atos) def. Nisar Loynab (Atos) via 2×0
– Horlando Monteiro (Kimura) def. Ashur Darmo (TAC)
– Yuri Paiva (LEAD) def. Alexandro Enrique (Alliance)s
– Dominique Bell (Atos) def. Rafael Vasconcelos (Atos) via 2×0
No elimination rounds. All athletes started the tournament on Sunday. The division was up for the taking, with 4 athletes having real shots at gold here. Arguably the super-heavy favorite was Alliance’s Fellipe Andrew, who had a mal-function moment during the semi finals as he battled Checkmat’s Arnaldo Maidana. During the match, Arnaldo locked a standing anaconda choke on Fellipe. Andrew chose to back his way out of danger and away from the mats which earned him a disqualification by the referee.
One of the performances of the event was Guilherme Augusto. The former Brazilian Nationals champion thrives in the IBJJF ruleset and proved once again why he is among the best of the division.
– Fellipe Andrew (Alliance) def. Roberto Torralbas (TLI) via 13×0
– Arnaldo Maidana (Checkmat) def. Charles McGuire (ATT) via cross choke from closed guard
– Devhonte Johnson (Unity) advanced unopposed
– Guilherme Augusto (Alliance) def. Aaron “Tex” Johnson (Fight Sports) via arm-in Ezekiel
Both Luiz Panza and Max Gimenis, the division’s favorites, advanced with ease in a small division of 6 athletes.
– Renato Tagliari (Brasa) def. Austin Avera (R1ng) via 2×0
– Luiz Panza (Checkmat) def. Johny Gonçalves (Kronos) via armbar
– Stuard Maddox (LP) def. Leo D’avila (Atos) via wristlock from side control
– Max Gimenis (GFT) advanced unopposed
Both finalists looked tremendous on their way through to the last match of the tournament, running through everyone like hot knives through butter. The exception here was Max Gimenis, who put on a real challenge to Batista in the semi-final of the tournament. Gimenis had, in fact, a match ending choke from the back at the 2-minute mark, though in defending the submission, both athletes went out of bounds forcing the standing reset. A lost opportunity there which Batista took full advantage of in the later minutes of that match, turning the tables and winning by submission.
An honorable mention here to Murilo Santana, leader of Unity JJ, who looked like a real warrior throughout the open-weight tournament. Visibly in pain due to a rib-injury, Santana advanced 3 matches, even submitting one of Atos’ brightest athletes – Jonnatas Gracie, before the injury became overbearing. He did complete the semi-finals match against Fellipe Andrew, but he looked incredibly diminished throughout the 10 minutes.
In the final, Fellipe Andrew played extremely well from the top position. No mistakes, no space given to Batista, who struggled to settle any grips on the super-heavyweight competitor. Fantastic performance by Andrew.
– Fellipe Andrew def. Roberto Jimenez via botinha lock
– Murilo Santana def. Stuart Maddox via 2×0
– Gustavo Batista def. Jake Watson via choke from the back
– Max Gimenis def. Devhonte Johnson via choke from the back
FEMALE ADULT BLACK BELTS
One of the big points of interest for the female division was the inclusion of a few very hot prospects of the sport, who only recently received their black belt promotions. Although most eyes were on Atos’ Rafaela Guedes and Emilly Alves Vasconcelos, who looked very impressive in their matches, one of the surprises of the tournament was another newcomer, Claire North of the New Breed/TAC team coalition. North was a silver medal at the IBJJF worlds as a brown belt, back in 2018 but we had not seen her since. She looked very impressive in her middleweight challenge.
Veteran Luiza Monteiro continued advancing her outstanding gi career, proving once again she is, not only one of the most accomplished athletes in the sport but also one of the most fun to watch compete.
Female Black Belt Team Medal Tally:
#1 Atos – 6
#2 Gracie Humaita – 4
#3 Checkmat – 3, Gracie Barra – 3
#4 TAC – 2, Abmar Barbosa – 2
#5 R1ng – 1, GFT – 1, Fight Sports – 1, Clube Pina – 1, Team Lloyd Irvin – 1, Big Brothers – 1, Alliance – 1
Roosterweight world champ, Mayssa Bastos came up a weight class to challenge the heavier girls in a very thin division. Bastos dispatched of both challengers with ease.
– Mayssa Bastos (GFT) def. Patty Fontes (Checkmat) via katagatame
As expected, both athletes advanced through to the final with ease, particularly Gabi who scored 14 points on her opponent before snatching an armbar victory. A small bracket of 4.
Ribeiro spoiled the day for Atos in the female lightweight division. The former featherweight came up a weight class and defeated the talented Nikki Sullivan of Atos in the semi-finals, putting on tons of pressure from the top, which she used to pass the tricky guard of Sullivan. Outstanding performance there as was Monteiro’s over Fight Sport’s Natasha Quiza leading up to the final.
The final between Ribeiro and Monteiro was an absolute nail-biter! The match went down to the very last second, when Nathalie almost took Monteiro’s back after having hear guard passed earlier by Luiza. Two absolute warriors in, arguably, the best final of the night.
Two black belts making their debuts made it through to the final showing great composure and talent.
Quarter-Finals (2 matches only):
– Vanessa Griffin def. Raquel Canuto (Checkmat) via decision
– Claire North (TAC) def. Melissa Cueto (G. Humaitá) via Americana lock
– Rafaela Guedes (Atos) def. Vanessa Griffin (TLI) via 11×0
– Claire North (TAC) def. Brenda Ariane (Clube Pina) via 2×0
– Rafaela Guedes def. Claire North via 2×0 adv, 0x0 pts
Set out as the division’s favorites, both Malyjasiak and Cintra had to go through two of the sport’s rising stars in Emilly Alves Vasconcelos and Vedha Toscano to reach the final. When they met, the match was every bit as exciting as expected by jiu-jitsu fans. Close until the end, Cintra did push the pace harder and was more dangerous throughout the final. A great performance by both competitors.
Quarter-Finals (1 match only):
– Emilly Vasconcelos def. Brenda Heller via choke from the back
Only one athlete, Nathiely de Jesus, signed up to the division but did not make weight. No champion in at heavyweight.
A very big tournament for Rafaela Guedes, who was making her black belt debut at the Pans. Guedes went through one of the strongest athletes on the event, Jessica Flowers (2×0), and the experienced Maria Malyjasiak via decision to make the final. Monteiro also had two very tough opponents on her way to the final in Kendall Reusing and Gabrielle McComb and looking very impressive working from her guard and from the top. Very complete performance.
– Rafaela Guedes def. Jessica Flowers via 2×0
– Maria Malyjasiak def. Vedha Toscano via armbar
– Luiza Monteiro def. Kendall Reusing via toe-hold
– Gabrielle McComb def. Talita Nogueira via 2×0
– Luiza Monteiro closed-out the division with teammate Rafaela Guedes