This upcoming September 17, 2022, will be the closest thing to a Patron’s Day grappling fans could experience as it will mark the return of the ADCC World Championships, submission-grappling’s most prestigious tournament. A bi-annual event that had its 2021 championship postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic but is now on its way to becoming the biggest ever no-gi jiu-jitsu show ever produced. In this article, we bring you all you need to know about the tournament’s 77 kilograms (169.7lbs) division past and present; the competitors, the champions, and the numbers.
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MALE -77 KG CHALLENGERS LIST
JT TORRES (USA) – Current Champion
The reigning champion will be starting the tournament in the pole position (#1 seed) which will be a great asset for the ADCC veteran in these shark-infested waters of the 77-kg division.
With a record of 12-2 in the ADCC World Championships after 4 incursions in the promotion’s deepest waters, Torres has not suffered A SINGLE POINT since 2011. Very hard to takedown and ever harder to sweep, JT’s only weak spot could be his lack of competitive activity since the 2019 ADCC event. Only 3 matches since then, all under the IBJJF ruleset.
OLIVER TAZA (CAN/LEB) – 1st Europe & Africa Trials Winner
One of the most active athletes in the division is Oliver Taza, who has (at the time of us wring this article [07/2022]) 24 matches (17-5-2) across an array of rulesets just this year. Taza is a student of the revered John Danaher and is one of team New Wave’s most complete athletes with solid takedowns, great top and bottom game – both defense and offense – and great submission skills. The complete package.
TOMMY LANGAKER (NOR) – 2nd Europe & Africa Trials Winner
Norway’s Tommy Langaker is the least experienced no-gi athlete on this roster, but what he lacks in submission-grappling experience, he makes up for with a lifetime in the gi, competing at the highest level. Langaker shed the kimono for the first time, this year to try his skills at the ADCC European Trials and impressed everyone with a dominant victory in the division.
Despite his excellent performance earlier, he is mostly known for his collar-and-sleeve guard work in BJJ and has a lot of ground to cover before he can exchange in the wrestling department against the power-houses of the division. His lack of a refined stand-up game may be his Achilles heel at the big show, but only time will tell.
KADE RUOTOLO (USA) – East Coast Trials Winner
In our eyes, there are about 3-4 athletes at the forefront of this division, who are coming in with very similar odds and Ruotolo is one of them. Currently, on a 12-match winning streak, Ruotolo has the perfect style to make a long and fruitful career in the ADCC’s 77-kilogram weight class. Great takedowns, impossible to pin, and an endless supply of gas will make Ruotolo a very hard man to beat.
WILLIAM TACKETT (USA) – West Coast Trials Winner
One should not hold back on superlatives when assessing William Tackett’s race to the ADCC World Championships. 14 (13-1) matches were how many it took for the Texas-based athlete to punch his ticket to the big show after his incursions in the North American East and West Coast Trials. Out of this grappling marathon, Tackett submitted 8 men, with big names of our sport such as Jonathan Satava and Nick Ronan, being on that hit list. William is big for this division and has no flagrant wholes in his game.
MICA GALVÃO (BRA) – 1st South America Trials Winner
The division is filled with new blood, and 18-year-old Galvão is certainly at the forefront of the new grappling wave. The young Manauara is also the most active athlete on the roster, this year, with 29 matches, no losses, and 4 draws with 19 submission wins.
As we had referenced when describing Kade Ruotolo, we believe there are 3 to 4 favorites in this division and Micael is certainly one of those as well. Possibly the most aggressive submission hunter on the roster, Galvão could very well become a Marcelo Garcia type figure for the promotion if he takes control of the weight class this year.
ROBERTO JIMENEZ (ECU) – 2nd South America Trials Winner
Arguably, the most exciting aspect about this 77-kg division is that there are no stallers on this card. Everyone is a game-bred fighter at heart which makes this, arguably, the most interesting bracket to follow, an interest that is greatly enhanced by Jimenez’s participation.
The Ecuatorian is one of the scrappiest and quickest back takers in the tournament, with solid wrestling to boot. His leg-lock defense has been a weaker point in his game, though he showed some improvement on that front during the South American Trials.
KENTA IWAMOTO (JAP) – Asia & Oceania Trials Winner
The least familiar name to grappling fans on this card is Asia & Oceania Trials winner Iwamoto, a student of Shinya Aoki who will be going on his second attempt in the ADCC World Championships after his 2019 run fell short in the first round to Paulo Miyao, at 66-KG.
Kenta does not venture into the sport’s top international events, as such, it is hard to assess his true potential at this stage. He came into the 2022 trials with a strong wrestling game and solid positional awareness, although the Oceania & Asia Trials – traditionally speaking – are not the most challenging of the lot. Iwamoto is undergoing his ADCC camp in America with Craig Jones’ B-Team.
LACHLAN GILES (AUS) – Invitation
Alongside Craig Jones, Lachlan is the most well-known Australian Grappling product of today, and rightfully so. Despite having a busy life both as an instructor, physio, and family man, Giles has still managed to showcase his skills at the highest level with submission wins over big names of the sport such as Mahamed Aly, Patrick Gaudio, Ricco Rodriguez, Mansher Khera, Rida Haissam, to mention a few.
A real student of the game, Lachlan is a very well-rounded athlete, though he shines brightest when attacking the heels of his opponents. Despite his all-round solid game, the ADCC World Championships will mark Giles’ 3-year-long absence from the competitive arena, a lack of activity that may very well work against the Absolute MMA frontman.
LUCAS LEPRI (BRA) – Invitation
The most successful lightweight gi-player of all time got very close to an ADCC gold medal twice by losing in the final of the big tournament in 2015 & 2017. Currently semi-retired, the Brazilian native will make one last effort to steal the only belt that has escaped his grasp over the 15-year period that he’s competed as a black belt. If he makes it, this would truly be the cherry on top of a very rich career. Much like Lachlan Giles, Lepri has not competed since the 2019 ADCC tournament.
DAVI RAMOS (BRA) – Invitation
In 2015 Davi Ramos shocked the world with a major upset in the semi-final and final of the ADCC tournament by defeating Gilbert Burns and Lucas Lepri, two of the 77-KG division’s favorites. That was then, this is now. Since his big 2015 performance, Davi has not been particularly successful in the BJJ scene with an 8-12-2 record and one single submission finish.
Always a dynamic, strong competitor with tons of flair, Ramos will likely be at the bottom of the seeding when making the brackets, which will make this year’s ADCC a very steep mountain to climb for the Rio de Janeiro resident.
NICKY RYAN (USA) – Invitation
Back in 2017, many saw Nicky Ryan as the rising star who would dominate the sport for years to come. That prophecy did not come to fruition as, despite his tremendous potential, Ryan has had solely 9 matches at a pro-level competition over the past 5 years, mostly super-fights, holding a combined record of 6-3-0.
Despite having competed as low as 66-kg in the ADCC, Ryan has grown a lot over the past few years and is fairly large for this weight class, which will be a bonus come game-day. He is also a solid all-around grappler who transitions well between a submission and points mindset and may catch a few of the more active athletes off guard if taken lightly.
DANTE LEON (CAN) – Invitation
2019 IBJJF World No-Gi Champion and 2021 silver medal returns to the ADCC mats for another attempt at gold after his 2019 run was stopped short in the semi-finals. On paper, Dante has plenty of tools for a good run in the division such as good wrestling and solid passing, skills that are perfectly suited for the ADCC ruleset, despite Leon’s IBJJF success having not translated (yet) into this promotion, currently holding a 2-3 record with the ADCC.
RENATO CANUTO (BRA) – Invitation
One of the most exciting lightweights in the world, Renato Canuto is also an IBJJF World Champion (2021) and World No-Gi Champion (2017) who competed at the 2019 ADCC event, ending that with a 1-1 record and a Match Of The Tournament honorary prize for his loss with Garry Tonon, a war decided by a penalty. Don’t blink when this man is on the mat.
PJ BARCH (USA) – Invitation
We have been saying this for a few years now, PJ Barch is the most exciting 10th Planet prospect around, both for his technique, style, and gamesmanship. Despite Barch’s potential, PJ has came up short a few times, a hairline away from his mainstream goals, so make no mistake, despite being an invited athlete, he will be a contender to the podium.
ANDY VARELA (USA) – Invitation
Another very interesting prospect whose style is certainly in tune with many previously successful ADCC rules players. A ferocious competitor who loves to take opponents down, who competes very well passing from a distance, and is very quick with his offense and acrobatic submission attempts. Andy is physical, always comes in ready, and will be a tough nut to crack in this stacked division.
ADCC’S 77-KILOGRAM DIVISION BY THE NUMBERS
In this segment of the ADCC 77-Kilogram division, we bring you a few important stats from the past ADCC World Championships in an attempt to celebrate the legends of our sport while also presenting a few of the current game meta. Meaning, that what the new generation of grappling is doing at the highest level under this ADCC ruleset, as it is widely regarded as the most complete and inclusive of all submission-wrestling promotions.
MOST MATCHES IN ADCC 77KG HISTORY
Unsurprisingly to many of you, the athlete with the most matches in the 77-kilogram division history was none other than the ADCC GOAT, Marcelo Garcia, who compete in 20 matches during his reign as the king of this weight class.
MOST MATCHES & SUBMISSIONS
– Marcelo Garcia 21 & 18
Adding 2+2 here, Marcelo Garcia is the most winning welterweight ever in the ADCC tournament while also being top submission artist for the promotion (check who the top finishers of all time are by clicking here), as such it is no surprise to see him as the top submission artist in this weight class in the history of the tournament with 18 submissions and 86% submission rate (88% if we take into account his open-weight performances.
TOTAL SUBMISSIONS AT 77KG
An interesting statistic for this division is the fact that this is the weight class with the most submissions in the history of the tournament (77), a statistic greatly exacerbated by the fact that many of the past ADCC’s welterweight champions were submission machines, namely the promotion’s three most iconic 170 lbs Jean-Jacques Machado, Marcelo Garcia, and Kron Gracie, all of which had 100% submission rates during their gold medal runs of 1999 (Jean Jacques), 2007 (Marcelo), 2013 (Kron).
Another fun piece of information is how the submission game has been far more streamlined over the past 3 editions of the tournament in comparison with the previous 11. What we mean by this is that, whilst the previous editions of the event saw an array of submissions, namely RNCs, Guillotines, Armbars, Calf slicers, Ezekiels, Flying armbar, Heel hooks, Katagatames, Kneebars, Toe holds, Triangles, Wristlocks, North south chokes, etc, 2015, 2017, and 2019 ADCC tournaments witnessed a narrow range of submissions with just 3 (RNC, Armbars, and Heel Hooks).
This could be a symptom of the current grappling meta having transitioned to a more ashi-garami, saddle-centric game for bottom players, although it is interesting to reference that these metrics have not bored out across the other weight classes.
ADCC MACROS AT 77-KILOGRAMS
POSITIONAL STATS, please note that the stats here presented were taken from a deep study performed by BJJ Heroes over the 2015, 2017, and 2019 events of the ADCC World Championships. The data on the positional grappling exchanges here published accounts solely for solidified positions. Near attempts were not taken into account in this study, nor were the open-weight divisions as the purpose of these stats was to attempt to pinpoint the different dynamics of modern-day submission-grappling among each division.
The 77-kg division is the most successful weight class when it comes to takedowns, taking 33% of throws over the tournament’s last 3 editions, and being consistently above every other weight class when addressing each year individually. Much of this success is owed to JT Torres and Lucas Lepri two athletes who ranked #2 in numbers of successful takedowns during this period.
Judging by the metrics the 77-kilogram division is the most stand-up-centric of all weight classes as it ranks very low in the sweeps and guard passes, though it is also the weight class with the most submissions – an interesting conflict only explained by how many submissions occurred from takedown scrambles with quick back-takes to RNC and guillotines emerging from these dynamics, further assuring that this weight class has been mostly decided in stand-up battles over the past 7 years.
This could also be down to the fact that so many of the division’s big players work mostly from a passing stance or enjoy competing for the takedown, namely JT Torres, Renato Canuto, Garry Tonon, Vagner Rocha, Lucas Lepri, Dante Leon, to name a few.
The 77-kg division ranks the lowest in guard passes. Its most efficient guard passer, Lucas Lepri ranked #4 in the top guard passers in the tournament over the past 3 events with 6 passes.
Back takes are a part of the ADCC dynamics that is incredibly even across most weight classes, with the data showing very similar numbers of back controls from 66 to +99 kilograms. In this case here, the welterweights ranked #2 in the top back-taking categories of the ADCC World Championships, with 22 controls accounted for, and only 3 of those back takes occurred for the bottom/guard player. All other 19 were conquered by a top player.
JT TORRES – TOP 77KG BACK TAKER
In the 77-kg weight class, JT Torres is the king of back-takes being also the #3 ranked back taker overall with 4 back controls over the past three editions of the ADCC world championship. As mentioned above, Torres is also the top takedown artist in the division, ranking #2 overall with 5 takedowns, just one below the two top performers in that metric – Yuri Simões & Gordon Ryan.
All photos used here were taken by Lisa Albon at the 2019 ADCC World Championships, with the exception of the last one (JT Torres).