IBJJF Worlds 2012, Analysis & Predictions

Source: The excellent J SHO for EFN

This is the 17th Mundials of the modern era (1996 – ) and despite the absence of a number of Elite players due to injury, MMA or retirement (not least champions Roger Gracie and Braulio Estima) this edition looks to have surpassed even last year’s stellar competitor list.

BJJ Eastern Europe will be running a Play by Play on saturday June 2 and Sunday 3!!!

Some random Mundial stats to start us off:

*Of the 160 black belt golds won since 1996, Gracie Barra & offshoots have won 52 gold, Alliance & offshoots have won 44 gold, Gracie Humaita have won 22 golds, Nova Uniao have won 13 golds and Carlson Gracie Team & offshoots have won 11 golds
*Roger has won 10 golds (7 weight and 3 absolute)
*Xande has won 6 golds (4 weight & 2 absolute).
*Saulo Ribeiro, Marcelo Garcia and Robson Moura have both won 5 golds at their weight.
*Royler Gracie, Bruno Malfacine, Fabio Gurgel, Roberto Magalhães (Roleta) & Rubens Charles (Cobrinha) won 4 golds at their weight.
*Robson Moura won his first black belt gold in 1997 and his most recent in 2007, the longest span in terms of first and last golds.
*Only 4 men have won 10 or more medals at Black Belt: Xande Ribeiro (12), Saulo Ribeiro (10), Comprido (10) and Roger (15)
*Roleta and Cobrinha have both won the Pan Ams and the Mundials 3 years in a row.
*Royler, Robson and Cobrinha have won their divisions 4 years in a row.
*Saulo won a different weight division 4 years in a row (1997 – 2000 Medio, Pesado, Meio Pesado, Super Pesado).
*Roger Gracie has been in his weight category final 7 years in a row, winning all 7.
*Xande is the “winningest” Champion here, with 6 Mundials, 4 Copa do Mundo and 2 ADCC Titles to his name.

*** The Divisions***
Competitors to date here at the IBJJF site

*** Roosterweight – Galo ***
2011 Mundials: Bruno Malfacine
2011 CBJJE Mundials: Ivaniel Oliveira
2012 Europeans: Koji Shibamoto
2012 Pan Ams: Caio Terra
2012 World Pro Gi: N/A
2012 Brasilieros: Igor dos Santos

The Contenders?
Bruno Malfacine; Felipe Costa; Koji Shibamoto; Rafael Freitas; Igor dos Santos

What might happen?
In the absence of Roger, as close as it gets to a sure thing at the Mundials, the identity of the finalists can pretty confidently be predicted with Malfacine will be looking for his 4th Gold in a row here, probably by a 4th straight finals match with Caio Terra. Shibamoto may have won major tournaments, but not when Terra or Bruno have been in the same division. Costa is unlikely to add to his Mundials titles but may break the record for most bronze in a division. Freitas and Dos Santos won’t make it easy for Terra or Bruno, but I’d still see the latter two making their 5th straight face-off in a Mundials Final

Random facts
*Malfacine will be going for his Fifth Mundials gold and his fourth in a row, with Costa and Terra gunning for their second.
*Felipe Costa has six bronze medals in this division, equaling Comprido’s record at Black Belt.

*** Light Featherweight – Pluma ***
2011 Mundials: Guilherme Mendes
2011 CBJJE Mundials: Adriano Mineiro
2012 Europeans: Carlos Vieira Holanda
2012 Pan Ams: Bruno Malfacine
2012 World Pro Gi (-65kg): Fernando Vieira
2012 Brasilieros: José Tiago

The Contenders?
Daniel Beleza; Carlos Vieira Holanda; Ary Farias; Guilherme Mendes;  Gabriel Willcox; Bernardo Pitel; Laercio Fernandes; Dai Yoshioka; Pablo Silva; Samuel Braga
What might happen?
Gracie Barra (Braga and Souza) and Atos (Gui & Ary) both have very strong pairings, with multiple Mundials and Pan titles between them. Farias’ vanquisher in the recent Brasilieros final Jose Tiago is not enrolled and Malfacine, who beat Gui at the Pans will not be in contention, but perennial medalists Beleza, Holanda and Fernandes will be in contention as well. Depending on the brackets, I would most likely expect to see Atos vs Barra semi-finals with Gui and Braga the likely finalists.

Random facts
*Mendes & Braga will be going for a third Mundials title.
*In 2011 Gui and Rafa Mendes joined the Ribeiro brothers and the Correa brothers (aka Gordo & Gordinho) as world champion siblings, but they were the first to have done it in the same year. They will be confident of repeating the feat this year
*Bernardo Pitel last tasted Gold here in 2001, if we managed to pull off a win here this year, his span between golds would be a new record (surpassing Robson Moura’s 1997 and 2007 golds

*** Featherweight – Pena ***
2011 Mundials: Rafael Mendes
2011 CBJJE Mundials: Mário Reis
2012 Europeans: Bruno Frazatto
2012 Pan Ams: Rafael Mendes
2012 World Pro Gi (-70kg): Samuel Hertzog
2012 Brasilieros: Leonardo Saggioro

The Contenders?
Rafael Mendes; Leonardo Saggioro; Eduardo Ramos; Justin Rader; Isaque Paiva; Samuel
Hertzog; Rubens “Cobrinha”; Mario Reis; Marcelino Freitas; Mike Fowler.

What might happen?
Former World Champion Mario Reis has recently joined Alliance. The veteran black belt may yet
one day have had more clubs that Liz Taylor has had husbands, but in a way he was already part
of the same club as Cobrinha, the club of people who cannot beat Rafa Mendes.
Mendes blew the competition away at this year’s Pans, mauling Justin Rader and then submitting
Cobrinha in the final, the first time this has happened at black belt. The bracket has depth, with
Frazatto’s conqueror Isaque Paiva; World Pro Gi champ Hertzog and Brasilieros champ Saggioro
in attendance, but as above, which of these contenders has the gameplan to dethrone Mendes?

Random facts
*Mendes, like his brother Gui, will be looking for a third Mundials Gold.
*If Cobrinha wins this year, he makes it 5 Mundial Golds
*Two time champion Mario Reis had medaled at black belt eight years in a row, but will be hoping he can add to his golds from 2003 and 2004.
*Mendes is the only reigning ADCC and Mundials champion.
*Gabriel Willcox is the lightest person to ever win his weight (Pena) and the absolute at the same IBJJF Black Belt competition (2006 Masters & Seniors). Mario Reis has achieved the same feat at the 2009 CBJJE Mundials.

*** Lightweight – Leve ***
2011 Mundials: Gilbert Burns
2011 CBJJE Mundials: Leandro Lo
2012 Europeans: Roberto Satoshi
2012 Pan Ams: Leandro Lo
2012 World Pro Gi (-76kg): Roberto Satoshi
2012 Brasilieros: Leandro Lo

The Contenders?
Lucas Lepri;  Roberto Satoshi de Souza; Leandro Lo; Jonathan Torres; Zak Maxwell;  Davi Ramos

Random facts
The days of the Alliance Hegemony at Leve are well and truly over, with Langhi and Lepri both without any titles and both having to become accustomed to the sight of Leandro Lo or Roberto “Satoshi” taking the gold. Reigning champion Gilbert “Durinho” has retired from BJJ competition to focus on MMA and all the major titles since have fallen to either Lo or Satoshi. Langhi has reportedly been struggling with visa issues and will not be competing, leaving Lepri an uphill task this time. Atos standout Davi Ramos and the two very talented American players JT Torres and Zak Maxwell (who defeated Kron Gracie earlier this year) will also be in contention for medals.

*** Middleweight – Medio ***
2011 Mundials: Marcelo Garcia
2011 CBJJE Mundials: Adriano Silva
2012 Europeans: Victor Estima
2012 Pan Ams: Claudio Calasans
2012 World Pro Gi (-82kg): Claudio Calasans
2012 Brasilieros: Murilo Santana

The Contenders?
Claudio Calasans; Murilo Santana; Abmar Barbosa; Alan “Fin Fou” do Nascimento; Otavio Sousa; Bruno Alves; Victor Estima; Lucas Leite; Clark Gracie; Kron Gracie; Bill Cooper; Vagner Rocha

What might happen?
A host of champions from many major tournaments, but the greatest middleweight of all time is absent. With Marcelinho away, reportedly due to a broken collarbone, a large number of elite players will be looking for a rare change at Mundials Medio Gold. Heavy favourite is likely to be Claudio Calasans, who, despite modest success as a lightweight has racked up many world level titles since moving to the higher weight class. Others who have tried and failed to best Marcelo such as Victor Estima, Murilo Santana and Lucas Leite are all in contention to make the finals, but the staggering array of talent that has entered (Fin Fou, Clark and Kron Gracie, Bill Cooper, Abmar Barbosa to mention a few more) means that all bets are off and this division promises 8 enthralling quarter-finals, to say nothing of the potential confrontations in the semis and final.

Random facts
*With the exception of Shaolin in 2001 & Pe de Chumbo in 2002, Alliance or an offshoot have won the Medio Gold every year since 1999.
*Alexandre Paiva, his student Terere and his student Sergio Moraes have all won Medio Gold, the only chain of 3 instructors/students to have done so at the Mundials.

*** Middle Heavy – Meio Pesado ***
2011 Mundials: Sergio Moraes
2011 CBJJE Mundials: Vitor Toledo
2012 Europeans: Rodrigo Fajardo
2012 Pan Ams: Kayron Gracie
2012 World Pro Gi (-88kg): Andre Galvao
2012 Brasilieros: Nivaldo Oliveira

The Contenders?
Andre Galvão; Vitor Toledo; Nivaldo Oliveira; Eduardo Santoro; Rômulo Barral; Rafael Lovato Jr.; Eduardo Telles

What might happen?
Sergio Moraes will not be defending his title given his focus on the TUF Brazil competition.
Absent too is Pans Champion Kayron Gracie. With Romulo Barral seemingly a shadow of his
former self, Checkmat’s rising star Nivaldo Oliviera, who took double gold at the recent Brasilieros
will be strongly favoured. Multiple time world champion Andre Galvao will also be looking to add
to his World Pro Gi title and even the presence of former champion Lovato and the ever tricky
Eduardo Telles will probably not prevent Nivaldo and Andre meeting in the final.

Random facts
*Romulo will be going for his 3rd gold in this division.
*Galvao will be trying for his 3rd Mundials title.

*** Heavy – Pesado ***
2011 Mundials: Rodolfo Vieira
2011 CBJJE Mundials: Fabiano Leite Souza
2012 Europeans: Rodolfo Vieira
2012 Pan Ams: Lucas Leite
2012 World Pro Gi (-94kg): Rodolfo Vieira
2012 Brasilieros: Alexandro Ceconi

The Contenders?
Alexandre Ribiero; Tarsis Humphreys; Alexandro Ceconi; Yuri Simões; Rodolfo Vieira; Paulo Tarcisio; Neiman Gracie; Roberto “Tussa” Alencar

What might happen?
Someone other than Rodolfo might win. Well, that might happen I suppose and with Xande, Tarsis, Ceconi, Yuri and Paulo registered, this will be a well contested division. The possible final between Xande and Rodolfo will be intriguing and after a bit of a lull, Xande seems to be back on form but what will probably happen is Rodolfo demonstrates once again, “to be the man, you gotta beat the man and he is the man!” All bets are off if Ric Flair turns up however.

Random facts
*Alliance and Gracie Humaita have both won this category 5 times each.
*Alexandre and Saulo Ribiero have both won this category, Xande 4 times in 2004/6/7/8 and Saulo in 1996. They are the only brothers to have both won gold in the same Mundials division.

*** Super Heavy – Super-Pesado ***
2011 Mundials: Leonardo Noguiera
2011 CBJJE Mundials: Augusto Ferrari
2012 Europeans: Bernardo Faria
2012 Pan Ams: Bernardo Faria
2012 World Pro Gi (-100kg): Alexandre Ribiero
2012 Brasilieros: Leonardo Nogueira

The Contenders?
Antônio Carlos Júnior; Bernardo Faria; Leonardo Nogueira; Antonio Peinado

What might happen?
Another year, another collective sigh of relief as Roger Grace has elected to focus on MMA, training with the BlackHouse team and eschewing gi and nogi competition again this year. Alliance has entered 3 elite players with Checkmat in contrast represented only by Antonio Carlos Jr. Antonio may be reigning Pan Ams Absolute champion, but he lost at super Pesado to Faria in the same event. He then went onto to lose in the semis at the recent Brasilieros to reigning World Champion Leo Nogueira. With no Joao Assis or other Checkmat teamate acting as wingman, Antonio may struggle to get his first Mundials title. Xande Ribiero beat Faria in the World Pro Gi this year and clearly still has what it takes to win major titles, but he has gone back to Pesado, leaving this an almost guaranteed Gold for Alliance team.

Random facts
*Roger has won this division 6 times.

*** Ultra Heavy- Pesadissimo ***
2011 Mundials: Antonio Braga Neto
2011 CBJJE Mundials: Nivaldo Oliveira
2012 Europeans: Alexander Trans
2012 Pan Ams: Marcus Vinicius O. Almeida “Buchecha”
2012 World Pro Gi (+100kg): Marcus Vinicius O. Almeida “Buchecha”
2012 Brasilieros:  Alexander Trans

The Contenders?
Rodrigo “Comprido” Medeiros; Márcio “Pe de Pano” Cruz; Ricardo Ferreira Evangelista; Marcus Vinícius “Buchecha”; Alexander Trans; Michael “Big Mick” Wilson; Roberto “Cyborg” Abreu

What might happen?
With reigning champ Antonio Braga Neto absent, this division will probably be a question of “which Checkmat superstar will get the gold?”, given all 4 “majors” this year were taken out by Nivaldo, “Buchecha” and the newcomer Alexander Trans. Trans has had a fantastic start to his first year at black belt, following up double gold as a brown belt last year with wins at the Europeans and Brasilieros and a silver behind his teammate “Buchecha” at the Pans.
Legends of the game “Pe de Pano” and “Comprido” will be in the mix, but I wouldn’t expect either to be able to take out Trans or ‘Buchecha”. Stalwart Roberto “Cyborg” will be dangerous as always, but I think this will be an all Checkmat final with “Buchecha” taking the title.

Random facts
*Pe De Pano will be going for his 4th (& potentially 5th) Black Belt Gold.
Comprido makes a return to competition and is one of only 4 men to have 10 black belt medals at the Mundials. He is also one of only 6 to have double absolute golds (a distinction he shares with fellow Ultra-Heavyweight Pe de Pano and no doubt may soon shares with current stand out Rodolfo Vieira, who will be looking for back to back titles).

*** Absolute ***
2011 Mundials: Rodolfo Vieira
2011 CBJJE Mundials: Nivaldo Oliveira
2012 Europeans: Rodolfo Vieira
2012 Pan Ams: Antonio Carlos Junior
2012 World Pro Gi: Rodolfo Vieira
2012 Brasilieros: Nivaldo Oliveira

The Contenders?
Too many to list… this could be interesting!

What might happen?
All 6 Major Absolute title holders are present, not so remarkable perhaps given Rodolfo holds three and Nivaldo holds two. Roger and Xande are absent and although all eyes will be on the man of the moment, Rodolfo will face some stiff competition, with Alliance and Checkmat in particular fully laden with talent at this edition of the Mundials.
Bracketing, as always, will be key (this writer’s get out of jail card), but one might expect the semi-finals to comprise Vieira, Galvao, Xande & “Buchecha”. No-one yet seems to have an answer to Rodolfo’s game and I’d expect him to get his second absolute title.

Random facts
*Xande Ribeiro, Amauri Bitetti, Marcio Cruz (Pe de Pano), Rodrigo Medeiros (Comprido) Ronaldo Souza (Jacare) have all won the Absolute division twice.
*Roger Gracie has won the Absolute three times.
*Margarida (2001), Pe de Pano (2002) & Jacare (2005) have won their weight division and the absolute in the same year (Jacare couldn’t contest the Meio Pesado final in 2004).
*Xande (2006, 2008) has won his weight and the absolute in the same year twice.
Roger (2007, 2009, 2010) has won his weight and the absolute in the same year three times.
*Roger Gracie made the absolute final 8 years in a row, winning 3.

The Absolute winners to date
1996   Amauri Bitetti (Meio Pesado)
1997   Amauri Bitetti (Meio Pesado)
1998   Jose Mario Sperry (Super Pesado)
1999   Rodrigo Medeiros (Pesado)
2000   Rodrigo Medeiros (Pesado)
2001   Fernando Pontes (Pesado)
2002   Marcio Cruz (Pesadissimo)
2003   Marcio Cruz (Pesadissimo)
2004   Ronaldo Souza (Meio Pesado)
2005   Ronaldo Souza (Meio Pesado)
2006   Xande Ribeiro (Pesado)
2007   Roger Gracie (Super Pesado)
2008   Xande Ribeiro (Pesado)
2009   Roger Gracie (Super Pesado)
2010   Roger Gracie (Super Pesado)
2011   Rodolfo Vieira (Pesado)