The 2021 IBJJF World Championship was nothing less than superb, with heaps of athletes putting their best performance on the line. You can see the full results here.
However, the eagerly expected absolute final match – the one between Felipe Pena and Nicholas Meregali – did not take place. The reason? Meregali’s disqualification from an earlier ultra-heavyweight semifinal match. Namely, Meregali showed a middle finger to someone in the audience, while the match was still ongoing.
Even though the exact reasons are still unknown, some of those who were watching the match live are saying that the middle finger insult was directed towards Xande Ribeiro and Rafael Lovato Jr.; who were allegedly yelling to the referee that Meregali was stalling the match.
Watch the incident:
Lovato Jr on Victor Hugo winning by Meregali and eventually winning the finals:
There will be people that say he (Victor Hugo) didn’t deserve his spot in the final, but upholding the integrity of our art through the athletes conduct is extremely important. His opponent’s actions took place during the match not after which is why Victor was declared the winner. No one wants to win that way, but the @ibjjf had to make the right decision otherwise future competitors could go out there & do the exact same thing. Victor still had to step back on those mats & earn that gold medal & that is exactly what he did, by submission no less. This guy is the example of hard work, attitude, humility, & respect that you want in a Champion. I am so happy for you little big brother & very grateful to be a part of your journey. Still just getting started…
Nicholas Meregali spoke out on his social media:
I know that what I did can bring some difficulties to my career, but I have my values and regardless of what they try to do with me, I will fight for them. I won’t fit into standards that I don’t agree with just because of useless common sense. I have no reason to accept being desrespected, in any other sport that guy would have been kicked out of the gym. They took 2 world titles from me, but I’m sure the sport will improve after that.