Recent Worlds 2016 held at the The Walter Pyramid in Long Beach reaffirmed dominance of the older seasoned players, some names emerged as the ones to watch.
Erberth Santos has been a black belt under Luis “Guigo” Guilherme since December of 2014. He has had amazing results at Worlds, Pan American Jiu Jitsu Championship as well as the Brazilian National Championship that year. Sometime last year he left Guigo and joined team Ryan Gracie. Recently he managed to cause a big upset when he defeated Bernardo Faria by submission. In spite of being awarded Best Black Belt Male Player of the Year by the UAJJF he has faced some tough times. While Santos managed to score a victory over Andre Galvao at World Pro he also got Double DQ-ed (with Victor Honorio) so the title of Absolute champion evaded him.
Similarly Gold at Worlds evaded Santos in spite of outstanding performances in matches leading upto finals. In the absolute finals he was defeated by seasoned veteran Marcus Almeida “Buchecha” and in the 94kg catefory he lost from Guilherme Augusto on points. A bit more experience might be all it takes for “Dino” (short for Dinosaurus) to capture the coveted double gold.
Najmi is a Romulo Barral black belt. He is known for his crowd pleasing playing style oriented towards submissions. While Edwin Najmi managed to win over Gabriel Rollo via Darce choke in the semifinals he was quickly subdued by Lucas Lepri on a flawless spree via a choke from back. It’s impressive to note Edwin Najmi won slightly over 50% of his matches via submission. He’s definitely the one to watch for!
Arges is another one of Romulo Barral’s blackbelts. Gabriel Arges earned his reputation through impressive fight records during his tenures as a purple and brown belt where he won most major titles. At this past Mundial he has managed to evict Claudio Calasans in the quarterfinals of upto 82kg division. Given how strong his leglock game was throughout the competition we wouldn’t be surprised if some submission only events take interest and invite Arges. As luck would have it, he was to meet his teammate Otavio Sousa in the finals and the victory went to Sousa by close out.
Andre is a black belt under Fabio Andrade. His competitive success is only paralleled with the story of resilience that helped him not only avoid succumbing to criminality but also helping many other underprivileged kids. Nova Uniao champ has been great during Mundials but he lost the gold to Rafael Mendes after going through both Bruno Frazatoo and Cobrinha. He is the first individual to have successfully passed Rubens Charles Cobrinha’s guard. While that particular case might’ve featured a bit of fowl play, we’re definitely looking forward to what he does in the future.
Obelenyte might be the only double gold winner on the list but that doesn’t make her any less exciting! The Lithuanian born Marcelo Garcia black belt is also Marcelo’s first female black belt. She has been considered a phenomenon since early age since she is one of the youngest ever World Champion in the adult division (won at 14). She might be the best female black belt today because her unique mix of strength, pressure and technique allow her to dominate the opponents. On her way to the Absolute Gold at Mundials she beat established greats like Mackenzie Dern and Bia Mesquita and even went through Venla Luukkonen in the superheavy division like butter – final score was 33-0!
Domynika posing with Garry Tonon: