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WNO 23 Meregali Vs Rocha Preview

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Gordon Ryan Guard Passing Instructional

Kickstarting an amazing weekend of action for jiu-jitsu fans, where we will have none other than the ADCC Asian Qualifiers, the AJP Grand Slam in Abu Dhabi, as well as the IBJJF Denver & Salvador Open, is Flo Grappling’s Who’s Number One (WNO), one of the most well known No-Gi grappling events in the sport, which will be streaming their show tomorrow (Friday), April 10, 2024.

The 23rd edition of WNO is bringing back Nicholas Meregali, one of the most familiar faces in the jiu-jitsu world who will be facing Vagner Rocha, in an event that will feature one of the best match-ups of the year in Tommy Langaker vs Andrew Tackett. The event will also feature 3 family members, namely Vagner Rocha and his children, Jasmine & Achilles Rocha in what is possibly the first family triangle competing in a professional grappling event.

Below is a small report of this card.

MAIN CARD

Nicholas Meregali vs Vagner Rocha

A match-up between a 42-year-old veteran who has competed as low as 77 kg (170 lb) in the past and the #2 no-gi grappler in the world, who is a natural super-heavyweight (220 lb) might not be, on paper, a particularly balanced affair, nevertheless, these two highly decorated athletes will be looking to entertain fans in the main event.

Rocha is a counter grappler who is masterful at stifling guards and making it “ugly” which may cause some issues to Meregali if the New Wave competitor is unable to put Vagner on his back. Expect Nicholas to dominate once/if he gets to the top position, but also expect Vagner to be a hard man to take to the floor.

Andrew Tackett vs Tommy Langaker

If you only have time to watch one match on this WNO card, this is the match you want to watch. Currently, on a 25-match winning streak, American jiu-jitsu phenom and 2024 ADCC West Coast Trials winner, Tackett, will be facing, arguably, the best European middleweight in no-gi grappling Mr. Tommy Langaker.

The USA ADCC Trials Champ x Euro ADCC Trials Champ match-up has all the elements for a fun clash. On paper, 30yo Langaker has the best curriculum and is vastly more experienced, though his past two losses have come to younger, faster, athletes who love to scramble, and this is exactly what Tackett brings to the table. A slight edge for Tackett here but don’t be surprised if Tommy takes it. Either way, they will be entertaining.

Felipe Pena vs Rafael Lovato Jr

Two legends of the sport who competed in similar weight classes for over a decade and, strangely, only met once in the competition back in 2017. A tight match in the ADCC World Championship that went to Pena via decision.

Currently, Lovato Junior and Pena find themselves in similar moments in their careers with their names fully cemented in the sport’s history and with little else to prove to the community or themselves. This Friday we will know which wants it more in what we expect to be a tightly contested match.

Nicky Ryan vs JT Torres

Going on his 13th year as a black belt is JT Torres, an athlete who was a dominant force in the 77-kilo division back in 2019 but has opted to pursue excellence in the coaching role as of late – with great success.

Nicky Ryan is coming in with age on his side, being 12 years younger than Torres, but substantially less battle-tested with only about 14 matches of experience in his 3.5 years as a black belt against the 100+ bouts of JT. Both athletes have fun games, with solid stand-up and top-notch pressure passing, so this should be fun.

Jasmine Rocha vs Emily “Ferreira” Fernandez

A fun match between two submission-oriented athletes. Rocha is substantially more experienced in no-gi and has a more impressive curriculum, nevertheless, Emily is a worthy opponent, particularly from her closed guard.

Diogo “Baby Shark” Reis vs Shay Montague

On paper, this clash is somewhat of a mismatch. On one side we have the current ADCC 66-kilogram champion, Diogo Reis (77-8-3), on the other the rookie black belt Shay Montague (8-4-0), who is also one to two classes below Reis in weight. It is hard to envision Reis being on the wrong side of a victory here, nevertheless, Shay is a submission-oriented grappler with a great guard both offensively and defensively, which should make for an entertaining match.

UNDERCARD

– Achilles Rocha vs Camron Couch

Luccas Lira vs Husam Alabed

– Cassia Moura vs Jessie Crane

– Evan Leve vs Marlon Tanaka

Bernardo Faria BJJ Foundations

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