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5 Reasons Why The IBJJF Worlds is Tougher Than The ADCC

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Craig Jones Instructionals

Both the Abu Dhabi Combat Club (ADCC) and the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation (IBJJF) World Championships hold claims as to which is the most prestigious submission grappling tournament in the sport. No-Gi wise, the ADCC is unrivaled in the respect it carries, and the same can be said about the IBJJF’s ‘Mundial’. But which is the hardest?

Aside from the fact that the ADCC has a wider variety of stylists on its brackets and its ruleset, the two tournaments are not, in our opinion, on a level playing field. Be that in the professional “look and feel” brought forward by the IBJJF setting, nor in the 5 points we set forth below. Without further ado:


The ADCC has 16 man brackets, meaning, 4 matches to victory. That is the maximum bouts a champion will have to go through during the 2-day tournament. 16 athletes are the size of the smallest division in the World Championship (rooster), this year. All remaining weight classes have more, even after the IBJJF raised the ceiling of minimum points required to participate in the tournament recently.

To compete at the black belt level of the IBJJF World Championship an athlete is required to either be a former Worlds champ or score a minimum of 80 points in the federation’s international circuit, which is not, by any means, an easy feat.

Much of the ADCC star power, to this day, is reliant on invitations, and those invitations are often based on who is friends with the event’s promoter. We regularly see big names miss the cut, overlooked for friends of the company, athletes who have not paved their path in the sport and not by lack of trying.

The fact that the IBJJF has the most competitive circuit in this sport makes every athlete who qualified a top tier competitor. One look at the rooster, light-feather, feather, light, any weight class bracket you look at has world class first rounds with very rare exceptions. The same cannot be said of the ADCC, whose first rounds are often warm-ups for the title challengers before the big matches ahead. Two factors contribute to this:

The ADCC trials are open for all, including hobbyists who have not battled week-in, week-out with the sport’s best, and subsequentially sometimes produce sub-par contenders (though not always). These trials are also not as talent-rich as a large chunk of big BJJ names opts not to compete in them.

Another aspect that contributes to that “first round warm-up” of the ADCC is the remote locations of ½ the trials, which do great for the expansion of the ADCC brand, but to little to add value to the brackets of the tournament’s world championship.

To have an idea of how deep the talent pool of say, the IBJJF Roosterweights this year, there are 16 black belt world titles on the line, and plenty of Pans and brown belt world titles too. The talent pool is superior.

One of the cool things about the ADCC is its “fantasy league” approach, and although it makes for great entertainment, we do see a few mismatches weight-wise, which, once again contribute to tougher matches. We have light-featherweights vs featherweights at 66 kilograms, a few featherweights, lightweight and middleweights bungled up at 77 kg, and so on and o forth. A good deal for the heavier athlete of each class, who will sometimes battle competitors 2 weight classes below them.

When it comes to the female divisions it is hard to compare the two tournaments. The IBJJF has invested a ton of effort in developing the female black belt division over the past 5 years, while the ADCC has not. This is glaringly obvious when assessing the size of the divisions, the number of weight classes and the accomplishments of the athletes in one roster and the other.

And there you have it!

Which one would you deem the hardest? we would love to read your thoughts on the comments section.

5050 Guard Instructional by Lachlan Giles

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