MARCH 21, 2021, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. An important day for our sport as we had the pleasure of witnessing the first tournament organized by the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation (IBJJF) outside the United States, this year. The event was the all-important Rio International Open in Rio de Janeiro, a challenge that gathered the cream of the crop of jiu-jitsu in Brazil.
Considering how prevalent the sport is in Brazil, it came as no surprise that so many of the country’s top gyms brought forth their finest. Dream Art (São Paulo), Guigo (São Paulo), GF Team Matriz (Rio), Checkmat / Fight-Zone (Rio), Equipe Marcio Rodrigues (Rio), Clube Feijão (Maringá), BTT (Juiz de Fora), were only a few of the major clubs involved in this event at the black belt level.
LEONARDO SAGGIORO DOMINATES THE NEW GENERATION
In one single tournament, veteran BTT featherweight Saggioro took out an army of highly praised newcomers. During the first round Saggioro submitted 2x colored belt world champ, João Victor Oliveira (who was making his BB debut), going on to submit another high-flying recent promotion of B9 (Marco Barbosa), Mr. Matheus Onda – Onda had been on nothing short of a winning streak in Brazil, prior to this event.
During the semi-finals and finals, Saggioro beat both of the Sodré Brothers (Diego and Alex). Alex and Diego Sodré have been looked at as the future of the featherweight division for quite some time but were no match for Leonardo’s powerful pressure passing game and exquisite back-taking prowess.
LIGHTWEIGHT DIVISION ON FIRE
A stacked 76-kilogram division saw a melting pot of the fire-breathing grapplers that is the new generation currently brewing in the South American country. Darlan Casaca (Brothers SA), Jonata Gomes (Checkmat), Victor Nithael (Clube Feijão), Marlus Salgado (SAS), were all in and showed how tight the division is with very tough battles throughout.
One of the men of the day was Fight Zone RJ’s Jonata Gomes, who defeated the aforementioned Casaca and Luis Santos on his way to the final. In the semis, against Darlan, Gomes suffered an injury but pushed through making it to the final against the lightweight of the tournament, Victor Nithael.
Nithael, a representative of Nova União and a student of the famous Rodrigo Feijão, was at his best, this Saturday. Nithael had, had two disappointing performances in his past outings, but seems to be maturing as a black belt, taking out all three opponents with a solid strategy and great technique.
LEON BRITO AND ALEXANDRE JESUS LOOK IMPRESSIVE
One of Saggioro’s teammates, Leon Brito, came out strong at the Rio Open. Once looked at as one of the most promising heavyweights in Brazil, Brito’s flame seemed to fade a touch over the past year, as we didn’t see this exciting athlete much on the mats. This weekend, however, Brito showed his true potential by taking out very solid names on his way to a gold medal.
Equally impressive was Claudio Calasan’s star pupil, Alexandre de Jesus – AKA Robinho. Alexandre played mainly from the top, making best use of his dynamic guard passing to secure wins over Natan Chueng and Ygor Rodrigues. Two of the top grapplers on the scene today.
ERBERTH SANTOS RETURNS TO HIS WINNING WAYS
After 3 straight losses over the past few months, Erberth Santos returned to the mats committed to the win. This wasn’t the flamboyant, gung-ho, style grappler we have seen in the past, Erberth was all business. Playing strategically against two of the rising stars of the ultra-heavyweight division – Yatan Bueno (Dream Art) and Pedro Alex (GFT), after a submission win over Cleyton Flores.
Both battles (against Bueno and Alex) were spent standing, and won by the lesser of margins. Nevertheless, very solid wins by the São Paulo resident.
PESSANHA, BRAZIL’S GRAPPLING QUEEN REMAINS UNDEFEATED AT BLACK BELT
One of the youngest female athletes to ever earn a black belt, Gabrieli Pessanha maintains her dominance on the Brazilian circuit. 4 matches, 4 victories, and two gold medals. Among her victims were Bianca Basilio and Izadora Cristina, both solid names to have on your submission resume.
MALE / 64KG (LIGHT FEATHER) / BLACK BELT
#1 Wesley Santos (Alliance)
#2 Jonas Lisboa (Top Brother)
#3 Kaique Affonso (GB)
#3 Fernando Fávari (Checkmat)
MALE / ABS / BLACK BELT
#1 Yatan Bueno (Alliance – Dream Art)
#2 Erich Munis (Alliance – Dream Art)
#3 Gabriel Ventura (Guigo)
#3 Wildemar Santos (Atrium)
FEMALE / 49KG (ROOSTER) / BLACK BELT
#1 Jessica Caroline (CTA – PAXJJ)
#2 Maria Rolszt (Gracie Humaitá)
FEMALE / 53KG (LIGHT FEATHER) / BLACK BELT
#1 Gabriela Fechter (Checkmat)
FEMALE / 58KG (FEATHER) / BLACK BELT
#1 Bianca Basílio (Almeida JJ)
#2 Thaunay Correa (GB)
FEMALE / 64KG (LIGHT) / BLACK BELT
#1 Natalia Zumba Souza (Alliance)
#2 Ludimira Araujo (Nova União)
FEMALE / 74KG (MEDIUM HEAVY) / BLACK BELT
#1 Isadora Cristina (Alliance)
#2 Keila Rosa (GFT)
FEMALE / +74KG (SUPER HEAVY) / BLACK BELT
#1 Gabrieli Pessanha (InFight)
#2 Victoria Amaral (Checkmat)
#3 Claire-France Thevenon (Maki Team)
FEMALE / ABS / BLACK BELT
#1 Gabrieli Pessanha (InFight)
#2 Isadora Cristina (Alliance)
#3 Bianca Basílio (Almeida JJ)
#3 Thaunay Correa (GB)