SEPTEMBER 2, 2023, LAS VEGAS, NEVADA, USA, was the date set for the IBJJF Grand Prix, the cherry on top of the biggest celebration of jiu-jitsu of the year, that is the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation (IBJJF) Convention, a show that is both a fair for grappling entrepreneurs which includes 3 major gi BJJ competitive events. Namely the World Masters Championship, the Jiu-Jitsu Con tournament, and the aforementioned GP, all of which feature over 10,000 competitors, an absolutely remarkable achievement.
The IBJJF Grand Prix that took place yesterday had quite a few interesting super-fights on the card but the real appeal to the event was the tournament itself, particularly due to the inclusion of the two biggest stars in the sport today, Victor Hugo of Six Blades and Nicholas Meregalli of New Wave. Many people were expecting the two athletes to meet at the World Championship that took place in June this year but, sadly, Meregalli did not compete there, which cleared the way for Hugo to conquer the open weight title. Seeing Nicholas’ name on the GP line-up meant the fans were likely to see this most anticipated clash of 2023 finally happen.
The two gi jiu-jitsu juggernauts did not disappoint, both putting on epic and dominant wins on their way to the final of the GP, where they met. We saw a very even match there with good exchanges from both players. In the end, a beautiful and trademarked sweep from lasso guard by Meregalli sealed the deal for the John Danaher pupil. 2×0.
– GUTEMBERG PEREIRA (70-20-0) def. PAULO MERLIN (9-4-0) via 5×0 points
* First Smother Tap recorded at this level in a gi jiu-jitsu match
All eyes were on Tainan Dalpra x Yan Lucas here and although Tainan & Yan did have a fun match – largely dominated by the AOJ middleweight – the Match Of The Night honors went undoubtedly to Jackson Nagai vs. Natan Chueng, a superb clash that had a little bit of everything: takedowns, sweeps, guard passing attempts, submission attempts and constant scrambles. We definitely hope to see these two go at it again. The match went to Nagai who got ahead near the end after a balanced clash up to then.
Also impressive was Janaina Lebre’s performance as she dominated the Talented Emily Fernandez from post to post. In another highly anticipated match between two well rated black belt newcomers Cole Abate (AOJ) & Eduardo Granzotto (Checkmat) the clear favorite was not able to establish his dominance. Dudu was a major underdog here as he traditionally competes two weight classes below Abate and is less known to the sport’s wider audience, but he did very well at stifling Abate’s offense, forcing the American to a win by advantages. Despite the narrow numbers on the final score, Cole was indeed in the driver’s seat for the duration of the match, he just could not break through Dudu’s defense.