Lots of goodies happening this year for no-gi fans, and it all starts this weekend with the first edition of the ADCC’s Brazilian Trials. Unlike it happens in the US, where there are two distinct coasts where jiu-jitsu flourishes (East and West), the Brazilian grappling scene is a bit more diverse with São Paulo being the toughest and most thriving jiu-jitsu circuit in the country and the rest of the tournament scene being more spread out.
As of late, the Balneário de Camboriú in the southern state of Santa Catarina has been thriving with many interesting events by the AJP, Copa Pódio, and now, of course, the ADCC. Santa Catarina is at a vantage point in the country as it neighbors a few states with a long history in combat sports such as Paraná (think Chute-Boxe, Miyao Bros, Gezary Matuda, Munis Bros, or Cobrinha), Rio Grande do Sul (think Fabricio Werdum, Nicholas Meregalli, Gustavo Batista, Mario Reis, Monique Elias, Moacir Mendes Jr.), and Mato Gross where Fight Sports started.
Balneário will be the first of the Brazilian Trials set up for the month of February. Below is a shortlist of a few of the big players you should expect to see on the mats this weekend.
– Diego “Pato” Oliveira (Dream Art) was the biggest breakthrough of 2021, this year Pato is coming for one of the rare titles he does not yet hold. He will be the one of the favorites in this division.
– Diogo Reis (Fight Sports), a huge star in the making, Reis has been solely a gi player so far. We are excited to see what this bright young prospect has to show in the no-gi scene.
– Ruan Alvarenga (Alliance) is, very likely, the biggest name you haven’t heard of yet. A superb athlete and somewhat of a protege of Marcelo Garcia, Alvarenga won the Brazilian trials back in 2019 as a brown belt and he is even better now.
– Fabricio Andrey (Fight Sports). The current IBJJF World (gi) champion will be making his ADCC debut in Balneário. Traditionally more of a gi specialist, Andrey is very athletic and a superb competitor. He is also in one of the best grappling camps on earth, so expect him to come in very prepared.
– Cleber Sousa (Almeida JJ), “Clandestino” is a true veteran of the game and the most experienced athlete on the division at the highest level. He will also be one of the smallest athletes in at 66, considering he often competes at rooster-weight.
– Rodrigo Francioni (Fight Sports), a 2020 Pan No-Gi champion and a 2021 World No-Gi medalist, Francioni is one of the toughest challengers to the podium.
– Mica Galvão (Fight Sports) although still in his teens, Micael will be the man to beat at the Trials and rightfully so. The Manauara is one of the most dangerous athletes in jiu-jitsu right now, by mixing incredible skill with power and a serious gas tank.
– JZ Cavalcante (Fight Sports), is one of the veterans in the game. There aren’t many combat disciplines Cavalcante hasn’t competed in and competed well.
– Servio Tulio (Felipe Pena / Gracie Barra), is one of the most fun athletes to watch compete. Scrapy, technical, and offense-oriented, Tulio is also very big for this weight class. If his stamina doesn’t suffer from the weight cut, he should be a big problem for a lot of people.
– Italo Moura (Unity). One of the hardest guards to pass in the grappling world, Italo is yet to make a big statement in the black belt division. This will be a big opportunity for the young Brazilian.
– Lucas Protasio (Checkmat). If you haven’t seen this young man compete, do yourself a favor: Sit down, grab a cup of coffee, and put on a few of Protasio’s latest matches as this young man only had forward gears. His aggression and willingness to put himself in danger does sometimes play against him, but he has more than enough skill to pull this off.
– Roberto Jimenez (Studio 76) will be competing at 77-kg. A tough weight cut for an athlete who made his career while competing in the heavyweight division. Roberto is also one of the most exciting athletes to watch with one of the highest submission ratios in the sport. He should be one of the front runners in the division.
– Luiz Paulo (Fight Sports), is another of Melqui Galvão’s top students and a training partner of Mica Galvão. Although less focussed on no-gi, Paulo has always done well in this ruleset and has tremendous potential.
Other names to keep an eye on:
– Magid Hage (Surfight), Carlos Henrique (Dream Art), Fabio Caloi (Alliance), Jhonny Loureiro (Alliance), Pedro Crixel (Cicero Costha).
– Claudio Calasans (Calasans BJJ) Former open weight ADCC champion.
– Isaque Bahiense (Dream Art). A serious contender to the ADCC title if he can get through the tournament. IBJJF World & Pan champion.
– André Porfirio (Fight Sports) is one of the hardest workers in the game and has a wide experience in a range of rulesets, being particularly savvy without the gi. A supreme guard player, Porfirio has, more recently, worked hard on his passing game as well and will be one of the toughest guys to beat in the tournament.
– Valdir BB Monster (Fight Sports) is an ADCC veteran and a very tough guy to overcome in this ruleset. Built for the ADCC setting with great takedowns and tons of aggression to boost.
– Diego Ramalho (ZR Team) is one of Zé Radiola’s top students. He had an unbeaten run in no-gi that lasted several years and is excellent at leg locks.
Other names to keep an eye on:
– Gabriel Brod (Felipe Pena), Rafael Paganini (Alliance), Luan Carvalho (Nova Uniao), Alexandre Jesus (Calasans BJJ), Delson Heleno “Pé de Chumbo”, Gabriel Costa (Guigo JJ)
– Henrique Cardoso (KMKZ Ceconi) is one of the most exciting athletes in the sport right now. He is also one of the most accomplished no-gi grapplers in Brazil and should be seen as the front-runner.
– Pedro Machado (Gordo JJ) will be making his black belt debut at the ADCC Trials. As a brown belt, Machado was one of the most impressive gi athletes in the world, a success he will be attempting to mimic in Santa Catarina.
– Thiago Sá (Checkmat) is a veteran of the game and one of the names behind the development of the toe-hook footlock. Originally a single-X guard specialist, Sá has been working hard on his wrestling while training in the Emirates over the past few years, a key facet to the ADCC ruleset.
– Luccas Lira (Fight Sports) is one of Cyborg’s top students. His skillset earned him a sponsorship by the ADCC promotor, so expect him to do very well.
– Pedro Agrizzi (Striker) is one of the main competitors on the Brazilian National circuit. Although mostly known for his gi work, he is a supreme competitor and should be a challenge for anyone in the division.
– Caio Borralho was one of the stars on Dana White’s contender series. He’s proven to have great grappling while inside the octagon and will be fun to see how he will fair against the jiu-jitsu’s top talent.
– Victor Honorio (GFTeam), we haven’t seen this young man compete in over two years but he was one of the very best ultra-heavyweights in the game. Very fast for his size and strong as an ox, if Victor is in his usual form, he will be the man to beat here.
– Wallace Costa (GFTeam), a rising star in the BJJ world, Costa works well from the guard, an attribute that might come to play in this “top game heavy” division.
– Pedro Alex “Bombom” (GFTeam), although one of Wallace’s main training partners, Pedro Alex is all about the top game. He is also, one of the rising stars in Brazil.
– Antonio Assef (GFTeam), jiu-jitsu’s most famous doctor is Assef. Known as “Doutor Porrada” (Fight Doctor), Antonio is a veteran of the game who, despite his long career, has kept very active on the national circuit, with consistent wins in many of Brazil’s top tournaments.
The cover photo was shot by photographer Dion Watts.