IBJJF Pan Ams 2012, Preview and Predictions

Being the real BJJ nerd that I am, I’ll be watching the event live this weekend on Budovideos for 20 dollars for both saturday and sunday. Here is a preview of the black belt divisions and some predictions!

Thanks to JSho for writting this article on the EFN website.

DATE: March 29th, 30th, 31th and April 01st 2012. 
University California Irvine
100 Bren event center
Irvine, California 92617

Schedule:  http://www.ibjjf.org/cronopan2012.htm 
Athlete list: http://www.ibjjfdb.com/CampeonatoInscricao/PorCategoriaETimePdf?CampeonatoId=106 

Random Fact 1
The Pans are the IBJJF competition with most number of different Gracie Gold Medallists:
-Kayron Gracie (2010)
-Roger Gracie (2006)
-Rolles Gracie (2006)
-Royler Gracie (1997, 1999)
-Ryan Gracie (1998)

Random Fact 2:
Only 1 “gringo” has ever won the Pans at Black Belt Adult (Rafael Lovato Jr who won it in 2007 & 2008),
but 3 different Japanese fighters have won gold (Yoshihiko Matsumoto in 2009, Dai Yoshioka in 2006
& Takeo Antônio Tani in 2001.

Random Fact 3
Rodolfo Vieira is the only man to have ever held Pan and Mundial double gold at the same time (he also holds double gold fromt he world pro gi).

Random Fact 4
Announcers may have trouble with the pronunciation of OsaBemi-ye Adedapoidle-Tyehimba fighting at Blue Senior 2 Ultra Heavy.

General Observations
Attendees/contenders from the list as at end of play 25th March, a couple of non returning champions, most noticeably no Rodolfo Vieira, perhaps keeping his powder dry for the World Pro Gi Championships in Abu Dhabi shortly. Antonio Braga Neto, Augusto “Tanquinho”, Bruno Frazzatto & Caio Terra are some other players we might have expected to see at the Pans, although injury and/or the World Pro Gi may also explain their absences.
Quite a number of people are also fighting at unusual weights – Malfacine is at featherweight, Kron is back up to middleweight, Rafael Lovato Jr has made it down to Medium Heavy, Marcus “Buchecha” is up to Ultra Heavy, Lucas Leite is up to Medium Heavy adn new Atos member Mike Fowler is somehow down to Featherweight.

* These weights are correct (IBJJF weighs with the Gi on, and gives an allowance of 3,3 kgs per gi) so these are the weights with the gi, same thing.

*** Black Adult Masculino – Galo / Rooster-weight / under 55kg ***
Reigning Champion (2011)    Rafael Freitas   (Gracie Barra)
Contenders: Rafael Freitas, Felipe Costa, Fabio Passos, Koji Shibamoto

What might happen: Koji Shibamoto, reigning Euros champ and Freitas, reigning Pans champ are here, are present but Bruno Malfacine, reigning Brasilieros & Mundials champ and Perennial medallist Caio Terra are absent, Terra through injury and Malfacine through competiting at Light Feather. A small bracket (pun intended), I’d expect to see Freitas take the win here.

*** Pluma / Light Featherweight / under 61kg ***
Reigning Champion (2011) Carlos Holanda Vieira (Checkmat)
Contenders: Gui Mendes, Laercio Fernandes, Bernardo Pitel, Pablo Silva, Bruno Malfacine, Samir Chantre, Daniel Beleza

What might happen: The bracket is pretty competitive, with a heavier Malfacine and former mundials champion Silva also in the mix in contention, but reigning Mundials champ Gui Mendes must be the favourite here.

*** Pena / Featherweight / under 67 kg ***
Reigning Champion (2011) Bruno Frazzatto Barbosa (Atos JJ)
Contenders: Rafael Mendes, Justin Rader, Mario Reis, Mike Fowler, Rubens “Cobrinha”

What might happen:   A pair of former mundials champions (Cobrinha and Reis) are present here, but reigning champ Rafael Mendes will probably be confident of gold here. Americans Mike Fowler, Atos’ newest recruit (almost unbelievably at feather from his regular Middleweight) and Justin Rader will surely be in contention for medals.

*** Leve / Lightweight / under 73kg ***
Reigning Champion (2011) Lucas Alves Lepri (Alliance)
Contenders: Rodrigo Caporal, JT Torres, Lucas Lepri, Zak Maxwell, Leandro Lo

What might happen: A few notable absences here, no Gilbert “Durinho” still seemingly retired from competition, no Michael Langhi and no Kron Gracie (up a weight category). No Roberto “Satoshi” either, Satoshi having shaken up the competition scene earlier this year at the Euros when he beat JT Torres and Michael Langhi to take Gold. Langhi’s stablemate, former Mundials & Pans champion Lucas Lepri is competing, as is Leandro Lo Pereira Nascimento, who burst onto the scene with World Pro Gi and Brasilieros titles in 2011. American Zak Maxwell will be confident having beaten last years Mundials silver medallist Kron Gracie at the recent World Pro Gi trials in San Diego, his countryman JT Torres will also be in contention for a medal.

*** Medio / Middleweight / under 79kg ***
Reigning Champion (2011) Claudio Calasans Junior (Atos JJ)
Contenders: Gabriel Goulart, Claudio Calasans, Clark Gracie, Abmar Barbosa, Kron Gracie, Otavio Sousa, Vitor Estima, Murilo Santana

What might happen: No Garcia, but a brace of Gracies will be competing at the Pans. With Marcelinho having competed (and won) at only one Pan Ams as a black belt (and that way back in 2007), most competitors will be pleased to have a shot at gold rather than scrapping for silver. Calasans would normally be overwhelming favourite (holding as he does the World Pro Gi and Pans titles), but to take the gold here he’ll need to overcome two Gracie Barra standouts (one from each side of the bracket) in Vitor Estima, younger brother of ADCC Superfight Champion Braulio and Otavio Souza. Souza has two golds from previous pans and at the higher Medium Heavy category too. Claudio might beat one of the pair, but I can’t see him taking out both. Santana, Goulart and Barbosa may well feel they have a say in proceedings too.

*** Meio-Pesado / Middle-Heavyweight / under 85kg *** [/b]Reigning Champion (2011) Andre Galvao (Atos JJ)
Contenders: Andre Galvao, Rafael Lovato Jr, Romulo Barral, Kayron Gracie, Diogo Almeida

What might happen: Galvao, reigning champion here is likely to make the final, who he meets there is unclear. Kayron Gracie, fighting higher than his usual Medio and Lovato Jr fighting lighter than his usual Heavy might be in contention, multiple mundials champ Romulo Barral is more likely to face Galvao, but his form has been a bit off ever since his knee injury in the 2010 Mundials.

*** Pesado / Heavyweight / under 91kg ***
Reigning Champion (2011)  Rodolfo Vieira (GF Team)
Contenders: Yuri Simoes, Lucas Leite, Gustavo Pires, Roberto “Tussa’ Alencar

What might happen: No Rodolfo this time, but strong pairs from Checkmat, Gracie Barra and Alliance. Former Mundials champ Leite, fighting much heavier than his regular Middleweight, is joined by rising star Yuri Simoes. Simoes has won most medals you can win at the major championships in the lower belts and with his teammates Antonio Carlos, Joao Assis and Marcus “Buchecha” all campaigning at heavier weights and other larger players such as Paulo Tarcisio absent, he will be looking to make an impact here. Gustavo Pires and Roberto “Tussa” may have too much experience and size for the Checkmat pairing however.

*** Super-Pesado / Super-Heavyweight / under 97kg ***
Reigning Champion (2011) Marcus Vinicius O. “Buchecha” Almeida (Checkmat)
Contenders: Bernardo Faria, Antonio Carlos, Joao Assis, James Puopolo

What might happen: “Buchecha” is up at Ultra Heavy and with only 8 competitors registered, Faria is probably favourite here and the double gold medallist in 2010 and double silver medallist in 2011 thanks to Rodolfo Vieira, will look to repeat his 2010 success given Vieira’s absence. It won’t be easy however, he’ll probably have to face both of the Checkmat pairing of Antonio Carlos and Joao Assis if he is to get the gold.

*** Pesadissimo / Ultra-Heavyweight / over 97kg ***
Reigning Champion (2011)
Antonio Braga Texeira Neto (AB MMA)
Contenders: Alexander Trans, Marcus Vinicius O. “Buchecha” Almeida, Ricardo Evangelista

What might happen: With no Braga Neto, Cavaca or Cyborg and a very small field (well in a manner of speaking), on another day Trans might have fancied adding another title to his 2012 Europeans title, but his teammate Marcus “Buchecha” is fighting up in weight and must surely be favourite to take this title.

*** Absolute ***
Reigning Champion (2011)
Rodolfo Vieira (GF Team)
Contenders: ….

What might happen: Rodolfo Vieira, the reigning Pans Absolute champ (and indeed reigning Mundials and World Pro Gi double champion too) is absent and the absolute title is up for grabs. Faria may fancy his chances of another double gold to add to his 2010 titles, but with no Nogueira, Peinado or Moraes in the field, hehas little in the way of support from Alliance. Checkmat must surely be favourites for this title if Assis, Buchecha, Trans and Antonio Carlos all enter.