DECEMBER 12, 2021, ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA, USA, was the capital of jiu-jitsu once again as the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation (IBJJF) returned with its most prestigious event, the World Jiu-Jitsu Championship, a tournament that had been removed from the sport’s international calendar during 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The much-anticipated event did miss a few of its stars for various reasons (more on that here) but also had quite a few interesting new names emerging from the younger generation. Find out more about each division of the adult black belt divisions in this report.
DREAM ARTS CROWNS FIRST WORLD CHAMPION
We had alluded to the importance of the Dream Art Project over the years, but 2021 was the first time this São Paulo, Brazil, based workgroup competed at the IBJJF World Championships as a team (previously competed for Alliance).
As expected, given the quality of this pro-team, the Dream Art representatives came out of this tournament with a fair few medals, but the key moment was the crowning of the squad’s very first black belt champion. That honor went to Anna Rodrigues, who, coincidently, was also the first of the team’s athletes to graduate as a black belt. Rodrigues had a beautiful performance in California, submitting her way to the final.
CHECKMAT WINS FIRST WORLD TEAM TITLE
The outstanding work being done by coaches Leonardo Vieira, Ricardo Vieira, and Lucas Leite finally brought forth the first team title for the well-known grappling squad. With epic performances from Renato Canuto, Matheus Gabriel at the black belt level, and colored belts Dudu Grazotto (purple), Jansen “Nenego” Gomes (brown), Junior Fernandes (purple), Paulo Lanzillotti (brown), Guilherme Bacha (brown), to name a few, the team was able to surpass team Alliance (second place) by 10 points, Atos placed 3rd.
2021 Adult Black Belt World Champions
Male 57KG: Mikey Musumeci (Pedigo Submission Fighting)
Male 64KG: Diego Oliveira (Unity / Cicero Costha)
Male 70KG: Fabricio Andrey (Fight Sports)
Male 76KG: Renato Canuto (Checkmat)
Male 82KG: Tainan Dalpra (AOJ)
Male 88KG: Gustavo Batista (Atos)
Male 94KG: Kaynan Duarte (Atos)
Male 100KG: Erich Munis (Dream Art)
Male +100KG: Vitor Hugo (Six Blades)
Male Open: Felipe Pena (Gracie Barra)
Female 48KG: Mayssa Bastos (GF Team)
Female 53KG: Anna Rodrigues (Dream Art)
Female 58KG: Gabrielle McComb (Atos)
Female 63KG: Beatriz Mesquita (Gracie Humaitá)
Female 69KG: Andresa Cintra (Gracie Barra)
Female 74KG: Ana Carolina Vieira (Aviv Jiu-Jitsu)
Female 79KG: Melissa Cueto (Alliance)
Female +79KG: Gabrieli Pessanha (InFight)
Female Open: Gabrieli Pessanha (InFight)
“A level above” is all we can say about Musumeci’s performance this weekend. No one touched the American jiu-jitsu legend who conquered his 4th IBJJF World Title with the gi. It is also worth referencing Mikey has NEVER tasted defeat in the rooster weight class.
– Jonas Andrade def. Tomoyuki Hashimoto via 2×2 pts, 2×1 adv
– Rodnei Barbosa def. Roiter Lima via 8×6 pts
– Mikey Musumeci def. Bebeto Oliveira via Botinha lock
– Bruno Malfacine def. Thalison Soares via decision
One of the most pleasant surprises of the tournament was Malachi Edmond. The Team Lloyd Irvin standout was the #13 seed at light-featherweight but managed to pull a few upsets on his way to the final. With a different game-plan than we’ve seen from him in the past, Malachi surprised a few of his opponents by picking a passing stance instead of his traditional guard.
On the other side of the bracket was, arguably, the BJJ athlete of the year, Mr. Diego “Pato” Oliveira. The Manaus athlete has been on a tear throughout 2021, and it showed at the Mundial. A very dominant performance in the final, “Pato” put 11 points on the board and finished with a choke from the mount.
HUGE! What a performance by Fabricio Andrey. The young Melqui Galvão black belt came into the featherweight division like a ball of fire, with endless amounts of offensive movement at a frantic pace. Definitely one of the most entertaining athletes in the tournament.
The cherry on top of the cake that was Andrey’s performance was an elevator sweep (balloon sweep) to a triangle choke in the very first minutes of the final match against the Wizard, Jamil Hill-Taylor. One of the cleanest and nicest submissions we’ve seen at a Worlds final.
– Diego Sodré def. Osvaldo Moizinho via 0x0 pts, 3×1 adv
– Fabricio Andrey def. Richar Nogueira via 7×2 pts
– Alex Sodré def. Isaac Doederlein via 2×2 pts, 1×2 penalties
– Jamil Hill-Taylor def. Kennedy Maciel via 0x0 pts, 0x1 penalties
24 athletes in the leve division and a whole lot of fantastic matches. This was one of the most interesting divisions to follow, much thanks to Checkmat’s Dynamic Duo: Renato Canuto & Matheus Gabriel. Very fun performances full of movement and set at a high pace. A work rate that produced a gold medal and the closeout for the Checkmat team.
– Matheus Gabriel def. Michael Liera via 4×2 pts
– Renato Canuto def. Levi Jones via 3×0 pts
– Lucas Valente def. Márcio André via split decision
– Murilo Amaral advanced unopposed as Jonatha Alves could not compete due to an injury endured on the first day of the World Championships (yesterday).
– Renato Canuto and Matheus Gabriel closed the division for team Checkmat.
One of the nicest displays of clean jiu-jitsu of the tournament was the performance of Tainan Dalpra. The relentless pace set by the AOJ black belt as well as his accuracy was impossible to handle by most in the division up until the final. Once there, Dalpra met Isaque Bahiense an athlete well-known for his tactical style and ability to shut down offensive grappling. Bahiense did slow Tainan for most of the match by placing the Guilherme Mendes black belt into 5o-50, though the strategy did not prove successful.
– Isaque Bahiense def. Jackson Nagai via 3×2 pts
– Tommy Langaker def. Jaime Canuto via Triangle
– Tainan Dalpra def. Ronaldo Junior via 8×4 pts
– Jonnatas Gracie def. Leonardo Lara via 3×2 pts
Superb and dominant performances by the Atos duo with Batista beating his former instructor, Leandro Lo, in the semi-finals.
– Gustavo Batista def. Ruan Oliveira via Armbar
– Lucas Barbosa def. Fabio Alano via 0x0 pts, 3×1 adv
– Leandro Lo def. Otávio Sousa via 2×0 pts
– André Porfírio def. Murilo Santana via 0x0 pts, 1×0 adv
A spectacular performance by Atos’ Kaynan Duarte as we saw the young Brazilian competitor conquer his first world title. Duarte had won the event back in 2019 but his title had been since stripped for PEDs use. For this second run at jiu-jitsu’s most prestigious title, Duarte left no doubts on the mat as to who is the best of the heavyweights in the world right now, with his hardest match being against Mario Reis’ black belt, Gabriel Henrique in the semi-finals.
Another interesting addition to the heavyweights this year was Luan Azevedo, a black belt under Cicero Costha. Azevedo is as tough as they come, but was yet to make a mark in the United States due to visa issues. Finally able to compete in the Northern Hemisphere, Azevedo proved his worth by taking out Adam Warszinki, Rider Zuchi, and Dimitrius Souza. Impressive!
– Gabriel Henrique def. Matheus Godoy via 3×2 pts
– Dimitrius Souza def. Felipe Pimentel via Choke from the back
– Kaynan Duarte def. Helton Jose via Choke from the back
– Luan Azevedo def. Rider Zuchi via decision
Erich Munis of Dream Art had conquered the last World Championship (2019) as a purple belt. This year, as a black belt, Munis proved once again why he’s been widely regarded as one of the hottest prospects of the new generation by taking another world title, this time at black belt.
Very composed for such a young athlete, Munis looked extremely calm out there, taking the opportunities as they came, without rushing movements or forcing positions that weren’t “there”. A very sober performance.
– Erich Munis def. Joshua Guerra via Triangle
– Fellipe Andrew def. Marcelo Gomide via Mounted X choke
– Felipe Pena def. Harryson Pereira via Cross choke
– Devhonte Johnson def. Fellipe Trovo via 3×0 pts
Arguably the most bizarre ending of any weight class this year was at the ultra-heavyweight. After conquering a place in the final, Dream Art competitor Nicholas Meregali was disciplined and disqualified from the tournament, in what looked like a possible 3rd world title at a 3rd weight class, after winning the heavy (2017) and superheavyweight (2019) divisions.
– Max Gimenis def. Luiz Panza via 2×2 pts, 2×0 adv
– Vitor Hugo def. Wallace Costa via Triangle
– Nicholas Meregali def. Robert Abreu via Loop choke
– Igor Schneider def. Anthony Zuazo via 30×0 pts
* Nicholas Meregali was disqualified after the match was ended and after both athletes came off the mat. The disciplinary decision was made by the refereeing body for showing “the finger” to a crowd member midway through the match.
Epic performances by Felipe Pena and Nicholas Meregali. We were truly excited to see these two incredible grapplers make another attempt at an absolute gold medal in Buchecha’s absence and they did not disappoint. In the end, an epic final between Preguiça and Meregali was in order but, sadly, we could not see this clash come to fruition after a disciplinary action enforced on Nicholas blocked him from competing in the finals of both the ultra-heavy and open weight classes.
– Nicholas Meregali def. Vitor Hugo via 2×2 pts, 1×0 adv
– Kaynan Duarte def. Wallace Costa via Arm in guillotine
– Felipe Pena def. Max Gimenis via Choke from back
– Fellipe Andrew def. Patrick Gaudio via Toe hold
Felipe Pena takes the title after Nicholas Meregali suffered a disciplinary disqualification from the tournament for his conduct at the final of the ultra-heavyweight division, earlier. Preguiça left his belt on the mat after having his arm raised, signaling his retirement from the World Championships.
One of the biggest female rooster weight divisions in the history of the IBJJF World Champions with 8 competitors. Although with more athletes, none could stop the reigning champ, Mayssa Bastos. Another dominant performance by the Queen of the Rooster Weights.
– Mayssa Bastos def. Jessica Caroline via choke from the back
9 athletes in the female light-featherweight division and another positive improvement from previous years. Without a doubt, the two best 118lb’ers reached the final as both Tammi and Rodrigues showed dominance in their runs towards the final.
Although both have been in this game for some time, this was the first clash between these two athletes and, as expected, a fairly even affair. In a slight clash of styles between Musumeci’s technical yet scrappy jiu-jitsu and Anna Rodrigues’ “no grip wasted” clean type approach, victory went to the Dream Art athlete.
Arguably the most fun female division to follow throughout the tournament, the featherweights had in Gabi McComb their brightest star. Although Gabrielle’s work rate has always been one of the key features of her style, it was still utterly impressive to see her overwhelming her opponents one by one. Top or bottom, the new Atos world champion only has one gear in her, and that gear is forward.
A lot of stock was put on the new blood of the division coming into the tournament, names such as Margot Ciccarelli and Janaina Menezes. Although one of the most talent-dense divisions of the tournament, in the end, it was once again down to the two legends of the sport.
Hard to tell how many times Luiza and Beatriz have met in the past, but certainly in the double digits by now. Always a war, this one went to Mesquita who conquered her 7th black belt world title this weekend.
An interesting division with solid talents such as Claire North, Magdalena Loszka, Vannessa Griffin, Raquel Canuto, and Thamara Ferreira, but it was all down to the reigning champion, Andressa Cintra of Gracie Barra. Superb performance by Cintra who always comes to finish her opponents and proved it again this weekend.
– Thamara Ferreira def. Raquel Canuto via 5×0 pts
– Andressa Cintra def. Claire North via botinha lock
– Andresa Cintra def. Thamara Ferreira via 2×2 pts, 3×1 adv
3 out of 4 default medals at medium-heavy, but a fun weight class nonetheless with 3 fresh new black belts on the podium.
– Ana Carolina Vieira def. Fernanda Yukari Jesus via 1×0 adv, 0x0 pts
– Elisabeth Clay def. Chloe McNally via toe hold
– Ana Carolina Vieira def. Elisabeth Clay via decision
This was the largest division in the female category with 10 competitors, being also one of the toughest with plenty of big names of the sport such as Maggie Grindatti, Larissa Dias, Maria Malyjasiak, as well as, the most impressive name of all, Melissa Cueto. Formerly with Gracie Humaitá, Melissa moved to Alliance early this year, a move that appears to have paid off with a fantastic gold medal performance. Cueto’s very first gold at black belt.
– Melissa Cueto def. Maggie Grindatti via 2×0 adv, 0x0 pts
– Izadora Cristina def. Maria Malyjasiak via 2×0 pts
– Melissa Cueto def. Izadora Cristina via choke from the back
A very small division saw Pessanha submit one of the legends of our sport, Gabrielle Garcia of Alliance. The historic grappler left her black belt on the mat after her semi-final a sign of retirement from the sport’s professional circuit. Time will tell if her warrior spirit allows her to stay away from the mats for long (hopefully not).
14 matches between these two competitors in just over two years. As we stand 35% of Yara Soares’ matches at the black belt level have been against Gabrieli Pessanha. Many of these past matches have been truly exciting, sadly, this wasn’t the case this time. Competitive matches aside, tremendous overall performance by Gabrieli Pessanha, who conquered double gold in her first World Championship at black belt.