As we reach the half-term of jiu jitsu’s yearly run and enter into the no-gi portion of 2016, we look back at the gi season for a few of the athletes who stood out with their outstanding performances, particularly in the colored belt divisions.
With Brazil still leading the podium placements of the top tournaments in the world’s grappling circuit, we start with the southern hemisphere country to showcase the high quality being developed by the local instructors.
Purple Belt / ZR Team
World Champion (2014 juv. blue weight + absolute, 2015 juv. blue)
European Champion (2016 purple, 2015/2014 blue weight + absolute)
Pan American Champion (2014 juv. blue weight + absolute, 2015 juv. blue)
South American Champion (2015)
Brazilian National champion (9x)
World Championship Runner-up (2016)
Abu Dhabi World Pro 3rd Place (2016)
Pan American 3rd Place (2016)
We quickstart this list with an athlete destined for great things in our sport. A star since his days as a juvenile blue belt, Guilherme is one of the stars of the newly founded ZR Team, a team led by Rocha’s father (and iconic grappling coach) Zé Radiola.
Rocha is a featherweight and is well known for his eye pleasing game, aggressive and always hunting for the submission.
VINICIUS “TRATOR” GAZOLA
Brown Belt / Alliance SP
World Champion (2016)
Pan American Champion (2016 absolute)
World No-Gi Champion (2015 absolute)
Brazilian Champion (3x)
Brazilian No Gi Champion (2013 Juv. Blue absolute, 2014 juv. Blue weight + absolute)
World No-Gi 3rd Place (2015)
As you might have guessed with a nickname such as Trator (tractor), Gazola’s style involves plenty of pressure, reminiscing the style of Vinicius’ coach Fabio Gurgel. Vinicius Gazola had an incredible year as a purple belt winning all 3 of the IBJJF’s top tournaments. His good results remained as Vinicius progressed to the next level by winning the absolute division of CBJJE’s brown belt World Championship just a couple of weeks after earning his grade (July 2016).
GUSTAVO “BRAGUINHA” BATISTA
Purple Belt / NS Brotherhood
European Champion 2016 weight + absolute
Brazilian Champion 2016 absolute
Brazilian 2nd place (2016)
Pan American 2nd (2016 absolute)
Pan American 3rd (2016 absolute heavy)
Another athlete that we’ve been following since his blue belt days is Gustavo “Braguinha”, one of the stars of Sao Paulo’s grappling circuit who has been making waves on an international level. The Leandro Lo pupil who has in the lasso guard one of his strongest assets, had an incredible run as a purple belt this year, and is seen as one of the hottest prospects in the heavyweight division.
Purple Belt / Checkmat RJ
Rio Winter Open Champion (2016)
Brazilian National No-Gi Champion (2015)
Brazilian National Championship 2nd (2016)
Rio Winter Open 2nd (2016 absolute)
Sao Paulo Open 3rd Place (2015)
South American Championship 3rd place (2015)
Brazilian National Championship 3rd place (2015)
A former gymnast, Gabriela Fechter embodies the style of her coach Ricardo Vieira down to a tee: Athletic, calculated and versatile. Spawned from the Fight Zone academy in Copacabana, Fechter – like many other important athletes brought forward by FZ, is an all-rounder and has a very bright future ahead of her in the featherweight division.
JÚLIO SOUZA ARANTES
Blue Belt / Zenith
World Champion (2016 absolute)
Brazilian National Champion (2016 absolute)
European Champion (2016_
Rio Summer Open Champion (2016)
World Championship 2nd (2016 lightweight)
Brazilian National Championship 2nd (2016 lightweight)
Zenith is a relatively new team in the game, but they are certainly breaking through over the past couple of years by delivering valuable prospects to jiu jitsu’s talent pool. Júlio Souza Arantes is certainly one of those prospects.
The student of Rodrigo Carvalho has taken the juvenile blue belt division by storm, winning impressively in the IBJJF world circuit.