While most of the grappling world had its eyes on the epic BJJ Stars Middleweight Grand Prix showdown this weekend (check the results of that one here), on April 30, 2022, the Northern Hemisphere was putting forth its own epic professional gi jiu-jitsu tournament in an event that gathered many of the sport’s top players.
Set by BJJ black belt, Ricardo Feliciano at his own gym – Checkmat Murrieta – in California was the Warrior Challenge. The event was set to unveil two champions in two distinct divisions, the purple belt open weight and black belt open weight class.
The black belt in particular gathered quite a few big international names such as Erberth Santos, Fellipe Trovo, Jansen Gomes, Austin Baker, Sergio Rios, Guthierry Barbosa, Mathias Luna, and more.
The purple belt division was dominated by Dory Aoun and Takeshiro “Samurai” Kauan, two of the toughest purple belts on the planet right now. Unsurprisingly, Samurai and Aoun made it through to the final with the Atos standout (Kauan) taking the gold medal and the US$1000 prize after earning 3 submissions on his way to the final.
On the black belt side, things weren’t as straightforward with a few intriguing matches right off the starting line, matches such as that of Sergio Pichilinga versus Mathias Luna (Sergio won via points), Erberth Santos and Guthierry Barbosa (Santos via submission), and Jansen Gomes versus UFC fighter Jared Vanderaa (Gomes also via submission), an action-packed first round.
The quarter-finals had the always entertaining Sergio Rios beat Ty Freeman on points. Sadly the well-known Pichilinga ended the match injured and was unable to continue. As stipulated by the rules, it was Freeman who advanced to the semi-finals.
Also in the quarter-finals was the exciting battle between rising prospect Jansen “Nenego” Gomes and former IBJJF World Champion, Erberth Santos – one of the most well-known faces in the sport. The match was almost solely spent on the feet in what many would describe as an aggressive takedown battle. Despite some calls for an early takedown by Santos the scoreboard remained tied with zeros up to the end, forcing the medium-heavy and the super-heavyweight athletes to return to the mat for an overtime round. In the extra round, it was Gomes who conquered a decisive takedown and the victory via 2×0.
After the semi-finals, Austin Baker and Jansen Gomes advanced to the final. Once again, the talent of the young Ricardo Vieira black belt – Nenego – shined through with a 5×0 win against the American powerhouse.
BLACK BELT ¼ FINALS
BLACK BELT SEMI-FINALS
BLACK BELT FINAL