After a one-year hiatus, the IBJJF World Championship is back. Running at the Walter Pyramid to Anaheim Convention Center (California) from December 9th to 12th, we will finally be able to see the elite athletes of our sport battling for the gold medal, even hungrier than usual.
Many athletes will make their debut in the black belt division, but, unlike the previous years, some of them never had a chance to make an attempt at a World gold medal in the brown belt division. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many athletes reached the brown belt but could not compete in this belt, at the highest level, due to the many restrictions that took place throughout the 2020-2021 period. Now, they are black belts and will compete in the professional division without a prior brown belt at Worlds experience.
It is safe to say, however, that even though they did not compete at the Worlds during this period, these athletes were not sitting down. They competed in prestigious events such as the AJP Tour, IBJJF Pan Ams, Opens, and pro-invitational type settings, this way gathering enough experience to arrive at this year’s Mundial with black belt world championship expectations.
In this article, we will remember the purple belt world champions who will make their Mundial black belt debut. Check it out.
Light-feather: KEVEN CARRASCO (Ares BJJ)
The American Keven Carrasco reached his black belt under Professor Osvaldo Moizinho in December 2020. During the year of 2021, he has been competing in IBJJF Opens and super fights events, and he reached the 145lbs Third Coast Grappling belt in October.
In 2019, he won the purple belt rooster weight division and now he is making his debut in the light-feather division as a black belt.
Light-feather: JESSA KHAN (AOJ)
In 2019, Jessa was the purple belt rooster weight champion and now, she will make her debut at Worlds in the light-feather division. Jessa had amazing performances in the colored belts and now, is repeating these performances at a higher level. The Mendes brothers’ student is coming as one of the favorites in the light-feather division.
Feather: FABRICIO ANDREY (Fight Sports)
In 2019, Fabricio “Hokage” Andrey was the world champion in the light-feather division. At the end of the year, he was promoted to brown belt by Professors Michael Langhi and Fabio Gurgel and won the European’s 2020, but then the COVID-19 pandemic reached the Western World.
Working hard at Dream Art, he was promoted to black belt by Professor Melqui Galvão and made his debut in the new belt at BJJ Bet in September 2020. Now representing Fight Sports, but still, under the guidance of Melqui, he is the current AJP Grand Slam Miami, Rio de Janeiro, and South America Continental Pro Champion, as well as the current Brazilian National champion in his division. He is coming as one of the favorites to take gold at the Mundial.
Feather: DIEGO SODRÉ (Nova União)
Rodrigo Feijão’s student, Diego Sodré won his last world championship as a purple belt in 2019, beating the dangerous Meyram Maquiné. He was promoted to black belt at the end of 2020 and in 2021, he made many appearances on AJP events.
He will make his featherweight debut in the same division as his brother, the formidable Alex Sodré.
Light: MARGOT CICARELLI (Unity Jiu-Jitsu)
Working under Professor Murilo Santana, Margot Ciccarelli won the world championship as a purple belt in 2019 in the featherweight division. As a brown belt, Margot won the NoGi World’s, European, American National’s (Gi and NoGi) and the NoGi Pans. Moreover, she had remarkable performances in AJP events.
Earlier this year, Margot was promoted by Murilo Santana and will make her first appearance at the World Championship as a black belt.
Heavy: LARISSA DIAS (Fight Sports)
Representing GF Team in 2019, the young Larissa Dias won the medium-heavy division as a purple belt. Now working under Professor Melqui Galvão, she is the current Pan Am champion in the brown belt division.
Dias had a remarkable appearance in the AJP Grand Slam Rio de Janeiro earlier this year winning the brown/black belt division as a brown belt, beating very tough black belts. She has since been promoted to black belt.
In her BB debut, Larissa won her weight and the open class at the Balneário Camboriú Open to qualify with the minimum points required by the IBJJF to compete in the Worlds. She will now make her debut in the black belt heavyweight division just 2 weeks after achieving her black belt.
Since they were blue belts, the Munis brothers have been remarkable athletes. In 2019, Erich reached the gold medal in the heavyweight division and Anderson, in the super-heavy. The brothers closed out the purple belt open class division.
Throughout 2020, the brothers competed mostly in super-fight events as brown belts, which led to their promotion to black belt at the end of the year. Now ready for the big show, they will compete for the first time at the Worlds representing Dream Art and as black belts and they are both in the super-heavyweight division.
Super-heavy: MAYARA CUSTÓDIO (Checkmat)
Mayara Custódio took second place in her weight division and gold in the open class as a purple belt in 2019. After a brilliant year as a brown belt Mayara was promoted to black belt by professor Sebastian Lalli (August 2020) and now, she has been working intensely on her game at Checkmat HQ and La Habra.
This year she won her second World Master title and is the current NoGi World champion. Now, Mayara will try and attempt another major gold medal, this time in her first World Championship appearance at black belt. Her division, super-heavy, is undoubtedly one of the toughest weight classes this year, with Gabi Garcia, Gabi Pessanha, Yara Soares, and Talita “Treta” Nogueira.
Although not purple belt world champions, there are a few other very important black belt debuts from athletes who did not get to compete at the Mundial since their purple belt days. Names you should certainly keep an eye on at this year’s tournament.
A big mention here to Meyram Maquiné (Dream Art) who had his last appearance at the Worlds in 2019 in the featherweight division and took second place. Meyram is coming as one of the favorites of his weight class.
Tainan Dalpra (AOJ) took second place in the 2019 Worlds and now he is coming as one of the favorites of the middleweight division. He has only one loss since reaching his black belt.
The third place in the purple belt heavyweight division was to Davi Cabral (GFTeam) who is coming to debut in the black belt as well in the same division.
In the female division, Kaori Hernandez (Gracie Barra) took third place in 2019 in the rooster weight division and is coming to win her weight class in the black belt.
Lavinia Barbosa (Checkmat) took second place in the light-feather weight and has been working alongside her teammate Nathalie Ribeiro to reach the gold in her debut as a black belt. She is hungry after winning the Pan Ams.
After a third place in 2019 in the middleweight division, Fernanda Cristo (Evox BJJ) will make her debut as a black belt in the medium-heavy division, and another remarkable name to keep note is Chloé McNally (Unity Jiu-Jitsu). She took second place in the medium-heavy division in 2019 and now, will make her debut in the same weight class.
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