My good friend Kris Novell did a great Worlds 2012 preview on his blog http://pullingtheline.com/ with Brown and Black belts as well as women’s black.
Since we’ve already done the Black belt preview and predictions, here are Kris’s Brown and women’s black belt preview and picks:
This division only has 12 entries. The clear favorite is last year’s silver medalist in Levy Jackson of Checkmat.
Special shout out to Gracie Barra’s lone representative Steve Trocino. I started training with Steve many years ago and wish him success at this year’s tournament.
Ronaldo Candido, last year’s Champion and this year’s Pan Champion is back to defend his throne. Looking for revenge is 2011’s runner up Isaac Chavez of Nova Uniao. Other’s wanting to spoil a repeat of last year’s final should be the duo from Alliance in Matthew Maldonado and Thomas Lisboa (bronze medalist in 2011).
How is Jonathan Thomas still a brown belt? His partner at weight over the years, Michel Langhi, has moved up to the black belt. Jonathan looks to repeat his win a year ago. Replacing Michel is Victor Paiva, son of Alliance Legend Gigi Paiva. A third person to look out from Alliance is Pedro Torres who got Bronze in this weight group at purple belt. Pedro has been honing his skills at the Alliance Orlando with Bruno Malfacine.
Aside from Jonathan, another heavy favorite here is Gianni Grippo. This John Danaher student has had a lot of success even at such a young age. He has already won the Pans this year and looks to add another medal to his growing collection.
People to look out for: Davin Maxwell of Cassio Werneck – silver medalist at 2012’s Pans, Eduardo August Carvalho of Alliance, Rafael “Ze Triangulo” Costa of Gracie Elite, Josh Vogel of Balance Studios/Relson Gracie, Andris Brunovskis of Lloyd Irvin – talk about a sick guard!
Now this is a loaded division! The gold and silver medalists from last year are back in Jordon Schultz and Ralph Go of Atos Philippines (big shout out to him as he is the most accomplished competitor in my home country!). The only difference is that Jordon now represents Lloyd Irvin, a side story that added a little bit of intrigue at this year’s Pans when he faced off against former teammate Sinistro in the first round. Hopefully things have died down and we can get back to jiu jitsu. Even though these 2 were the top dogs last year, odds are they won’t meet again in the finals.
Standing in the way is the talented duo from Gracie Barra – AJ Agazarm and Stephen Martin. AJ is a former Ohio State wrestler and Stephen is a pupil of Braulio Estima at Gracie Barra Birmingham. They already got gold and silver at the Pans and look to repeat the feat this weekend.
Chris Visentin will be hoping to close out the tournament for Atos with Ralph Go. Chris has been very successful at the Mundials winning the Blue and Purple belt divisions. Like Jordon, Chris decided to leave Alliance as well and move across the country (he was a Fabio Clemente/Lucas Lepri student at Alliance New York) and join Andre Galvao and his stellar army of competitors
People to look out for: Nathan Mendelsohn of Claudio Franca/Coalition 95 – depending on the brackets he has a very good chance of medaling, Diogo Almeida of Gracie Barra Rio de Janeiro, Gary Tonnon of Ricardo Almeida – unknown to must but is an excellent grappler, Daren Roberts of Lloyd Irvin – another Alliance transplant, a couple years ago I had the pleasure of training with him in Atlanta and he is an extremely talented competitor but an even better teacher. He runs one of the best kids programs I have seen.
The revelation of this year’s Pans is thankfully back for the Worlds. Renato Cardoso of Checkmat had everyone on the edge of their seats at this year’s Pans. He foot locked his way to a double gold and I really enjoyed watching him do it.
Moving back up from light is Sinistro Itturalde of Alliance. His impassable guard will surely be in the medal mix. Speaking of guards, another one to watch is Beneil Darush, this student of Bruno “Mamute” Paulista has been preparing vigorously with Romulo Barral and Company. Beneil has been winning medals at all the tournaments for a couple years but really got this year when he gave Kron Gracie all he could handle at the Abu Dhabi Pro trials.
The tag team of Ronis Gracie and Sean Roberts from Gracie Elite will surely go far in the brackets. Ronis has been preparing for this with the boys from Atos, so you know he will be sharp.
Now 2 competitors that I always have enjoyed watching are DJ Jackson and Alec Baulding. I had always thought that if these 2 fought each other it would be a great battle with DJ’s ungodly strength and top game against Alec’s incredible athleticism and guard. Now that they are in the same division they happen to be on the same team! Along with Daren Roberts and Jordon Schultz, Alec left Alliance at the beginning of this year. But from past experience it seems that Lloyd Irvin teammates have no ill feelings about facing each other in the finals, if they do meet hopefully we will be treated to a great fight.
People to watch: Luca Anacoreta of Aeterna Jiu Jitsu – lost in last year’s purple finals to DJ Jackson, Brian Morizi of Atos – he may have just gotten the brown belt but be sure he will be hunting for the gold, Adam Piccolotti of Raul Castillo
I think that we will have a Gracie Barra closeout here with Felipe Pena and Charles Negromonte. If this happens they should fight in the finals as they have already done so this year at the recent Brazilian Nationals final. Felipe is having a lot of success in the past year. He doubled up at the 2011 Worlds at Purple and this year has already defended his brown belt with gold at the Pans and Brazilian Nationals.
An intriguing entry here is the new brown belt Sebastian Broesche. Up until 2010 no one had any idea who Sebastian was but he took the worlds by storm and won weight and absolute at Purple Belt. He did this after being only a purple belt for a couple months. It seems he is in the same situation again, can he repeat the feat at brown belt?
People to watch out for: Dan Schon of BJJ Revolution, Abner Soares and Gabriel Procopio of BTT – both have had success at the lower belts, Yuri Schneider of Godoi – constant medalist at Purple and a newly promoted to brown belt, Ilari Gronholm of Hilti BJJ, Roberto Torralbas of Lloyd Irvin – he has medaled at many major tournaments and is coming off a silver at the Pans, losing only to Felipe Pena
The favorite in this division should be the German, Johannes Wieth. This Saulo Ribeiro student runs a school in Munich but trains several months out of the year with Rafael Lovato and Saulo. Johannes has won the mundials at Blue and Purple. In 2011, his first year as a brown belt, he took 2nd in his category.
Since Joao Rocha has moved up to Super Pesado, Johannes’s main competition should be in Jurandi Concencaio. This Godoi student has already won gold at this year’s Pans and got bronze at the 2011 worlds.
Favorite Joao Rocha of Soul Fighters should continue his winning ways. Joao won the heavy division in 2011 but so far in 2012 he has had just as much success in the heavier weight class. Joao has it all – a good Judo game with tight passing and possess a deadly guard. Speaking of good Judo, Luke Costello is in this division and should give a run for the gold. Depending on how the brackets pan out, look for these two to meet sometime in the competition, hopefully in the finals.
People to watch: Thiago Xiemens of Alliance – he usually competes in the Ultra Heavy, but he probably got tired of losing to Willie Leonard! Aaron “Tex” Johnson of Alliance – Tex got bronze in this division last year and Silver at this year’s Pans.
One name here, Orlando Sanchez. This mountain of a man owns the division in 2012. Orlando is coming off a double win at the Brazilian Nationals; some say this is a harder feat than doing so at the Worlds. Orlando has had a fast rise in the jiu jitsu ranks; I want to say he’s been training for 3 to 4 years now.
A curious entry into this category is Orlando’s teammate Lucas Rocha. Lucas usually fights in the middle weight division, he is several weight classes up and probably is outweighed by over a 100 pounds. I am not sure if this is an error or if this is a strategic maneuver on Gracie Barra’s part. Regardless of the weight disadvantage, this Ze Radiola student (he also is his nephew) is very talented and will do well.
The one with more than just a chance to spoil Orlando’s run is Willie Leonard of Lloyd Irvin. The only reason Willie didn’t medal at the Pans was because he fought Orlando in the first round. Brown belt brackets are made randomly and no one is seeded. Hopefully these 2 are at opposite ends of the bracket and would meet in the final.
Lastly, a third favorite here should Abraham Marte of Yamasaki Academy. Abraham lost a controversial final last year to Alexander Trans. If he doesn’t run into Willie or Orlando in the first few rounds, he should easily make it to the medal fights.
Women’s Black Belt
Now that the black and brown belts are separated in the women’s division, the amount of competitors will be on the smaller side. But with the exception of Hanette Stack (out due to injury) most of the favorites are here.
Leticia Ribeiro will be the heavy favorite. She is one of the most decorated women competitors in history and I believe she competed in the first ever mundials for women, 1999 I think? Her main competition should Sofia Amarante of The Avengers. This Cyborg student should give Leticia a fight but in the end this division belongs to her.
This should be a rematch of the Abu Dhabi Pro tournament a couple months ago where we saw Michelle Nicollini submit Kyra Gracie with a toe hold. Can Michelle do it again? She has been very sharp as of late, I think her submission of Kyra only took 2minutes – though in Kyra’s defense her foot was heavily bandaged and hurt. Kyra has been training with the Atos guys down in San Diego; rumor was she was going to compete for them. But she’s back with Gracie Elite and got to do the Atos training camp with the Mendes Bros, Tracey Gooddell and Bruna Ribeiro. This should be an interesting side story as Kyra and Bruna could face each other in this division.
Only 4 entries here and the favorite will be Bea Mesquita. She has been tearing the bjj scene since she was a blue belt. The first time I heard of her was during that TV show Fight Quest. They went to Brazil to highlight Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and one of the show’s host got chocked out by Bea. She’s still tapping people out left and right!
Valerie Worthington is now Alliance? I did not know that! This should be a good thing for her as she won’t have to face Luanna Alzuguir till the final. This is Luanna’s division to lose.
I really want to say Penny Thomas here but I am not convinced. Penny doesn’t seem to be as sharp as she was a few years ago. There was a time when I thought she would eventually beat Gabi Garcia in the absolute. I hope she finds back her form and comes here at her best. Talita Nogueira should be the favorite as she beat Penny in the 2011 finals
Gabi Garcia is a character in one of my fondest jiu jitsu memories. It was 2007 and it was the first worlds in the USA. There was a lull during the black belt fights and the purple belt women’s open was going on. Gabi was facing the diminutive Ana Carolina Vidal of Gracie Humaita. All I can remember was the image of Gabi flying through the air as Ana hit a beautiful hip throw. The crowd went crazy! The only other time I felt that energy from the crowd was when Kron got submitted by Sergio Moraes. But in Gabi’s defense she has come long way since her days of fighting for the Macaco Gold team. She may not be the most technical fighter but she and Fabio Gurgel are doing something right, the results are proof of it.
To read the full article: http://pullingtheline.com/content/2012-world-jiu-jitsu-championship