My good friend Kris Novell made this very detailed review for his website Pulling The Line. Lots of good articles there.
Brown Belt Male
Lower weights are usually pretty low in number of entrants. Only one I’m familiar with here is Levy Jackson – champion at this year’s gi worlds at this belt and division; he also came second last year. Maybe he’ll get his black belt after winning this weekend.
Like the rooster division there are only 4 entrants here. Johnny Munoz from C-Quence who I think just got his brown belt after doing very well locally (So Cal guy) and at the larger IBJJF tournaments should make it to the finals.
Interesting that Matthew Maldonado appears to be representing the Alliance “B” team– I say this since he is listed under “Alliance International.” Curious if this is an error as he has been on an absolute tear as of late, he did very well at last weekend’s Abu Dhabi Pro trials losing to Gianni Grippo in the finals. Matthew closed out the gi worlds division with his teammate this year. I think he will do it again meeting Jacare’s product from Atlanta in Jeffrey Cummings.
Lookout for Matthew Aragoni from Raul Castillo BJJ; he’ll be a tough fight for anyone.
This is going to be a division that I will enjoy watching; in my view 3 fighters here with equal chances to win: Rafael Pereira (Gordo Bjj/Gracie Elite), Aj Agazaram (Gracie Barra), and Gary Tonon (Renzo Gracie/Ricardo Almeida/Tom Deblass/Gracie Elite).
Rafael and Aj had a controversial match in the recently concluded Miami Open. Controversial as some felt Aj was fleeing the mat on several occasions, in the end Aj got the win. Both are on opposite ends of the bracket and could meet in the finals.
Aj, the former Ohio State Buckeye wrestler, will have a tougher route getting to finals. Barring an upset he would meet Gary in the semis. These 2 have gone against each other several times this year. I think Aj won their last meeting at the ADCC trials but prior to that Gary had put Aj to sleep at the Pan No Gi I believe.
This is a stacked division! Watch out for Brian Morizi (Atos BJJ), Francisco “Sinistro” Itturalde (Alliance Ecuador), Sean Roberts (Ralph Gracie/Gracie Elite), Nathan Mendelsohn (Coalition 95/Claudio Franca) and Paul Schon (Cobrinha/Alliance),
Brian Morizi has been on the competition scene for many years now. If you live in Southern California you will for sure have seen him. He had been really successful at the lower belts representing Gracie Barra, but since his move to training under Andre Galvao, I feel his jiu jitsu has sky rocketed. He’s been a brown for not even a year now but has been very successful.
Sinistro is probably the favorite of the division. At such a young age he has already accomplished so much in his jiu jitsu career. I believe he is now based in New York and training consistently with Fabio Clemente and crew and probably Marcelo Garcia as well. He did well at last weekend’s Abu Dhabi pro and will look to continue his win streak.
Nate Mendelsohn is an avid competitor based up north in Santa Clara. He has won numerous tournaments here and all over the world.
Keenan Cornelius – that is all – seriously, it’s not even fair.
Roberto Torralbas should win this one; I think he runs the Third Law Lloyd Irvin School in Florida. He is a frequent competitor and should add another medal.
Only one I am familiar with here is Abner Soares of Brazilian Top Team. He won this division at Purple last year and I believe gi Pans the year before. He is a little small for this division, looks to be Middle Heavy but probably moves up to utilize his speed.
Lloyd Irvin’s behemoths have this division on lockdown. Willie Leonard has been winning this division since blue belt; he should be favored to win again. I’m pretty sure if he meets his teammate Kenneth Brown in the finals they will fight. Lloyd’s guys always go at it.
Caio Terra vs. Monstrinho in the finals; a rematch of the American Nationals No Gi Finals. Will the Alliance rep be able to beat Caio?
Though he didn’t get a bye in the first round, I still think Laercio Fernandes is the favorite here. This Giva Santana product trains frequently with Cobrinha, so you know he will be sharp! Laercio lost a close fight to Gui Mendes in the finals of this year’s Gi Worlds. I think he will get that mundial gold he’s been looking for this weekend.
Rafael “Barata” Freitas gets a bye and should meet Laercio in the semifinals. The other side of the bracket should go to Marcelo Garcia’s training partner Henrique Rezende. The Alliance guys are very high on Henrique. He hasn’t really broken through yet on the main stage, this could be this weekend if he gets to the finals and beats Laercio.
With the Mendes Brothers living in California now I was really hoping they would do these Worlds. Doesn’t seem that way as they appear to be focusing on their new Newport Beach school. That means latest Cobrinha vs. Mendes edition will have wait till next year’s Pans.
The clear favorite here will be Cobrinha. I don’t think he’ll really break a sweat
Cobrinha should meet Rafa’s training partner Ed Ramos in the finals. If Cobrinha is on that day there really shouldn’t be a problem
Look out for Justin Rader (Lovato BJJ), Samir Chantre (Gracie Elite) and Osvaldo “Quexinho” Moizinho (Gracie Elite, but I think a Soul Fighter Black belt – too bad he is on Cobrinha’s side of the bracket though)
This is going be a closely watched division with Lucas Lepri (Alliance), JT Torres (Lloyd Irvin) Leandro Lo (Cicero Costha), Augusto “Tanquinho” Mendes (Soul Fighter) and Zach Maxwell (Gracie Humaita/Regis Lebre) all vying for gold.
Not much more needs to be said about Lucas and Leandro. They have met several times over the past 2 years, normally in the finals, with Leandro usually edging out a victory. I had my concerns about how Lo’s gi game with translate to no gi. He relies heavily on the sleeves and pant legs with his spider guard, x-spider guard, and toreando passing. But he did win last weekend’s No Gi brasileiros, so that should quell some concerns.
Jt Torres is a perennial competitor who has a bright future ahead of him. He hasn’t won too many IBJJF medals at black belt (I believe 3rd at worlds last year may have been his best showing) but he has lost some tough and controversial fights. There is so little that sets the top competitors apart, it really all depends on if it is their day or not. I know that Jt is hungry and one day soon he will get that elusive black belt gold.
Tanquinho is coming off knee surgery and slowly getting back into the groove. Prior to his knee surgery he had come off 2 wins vs. Rafa Mendes and Cobrinha. Once he gets back into form, Tanquinho will wreck havoc in the Feather and Light divisions.
Zak Maxwell is a machine! He shows no emotion win or loss. I really enjoy watching his game and he looks to have fitted into his black belt nicely; he holds a win over Kron Gracie.
Riding his win over Cyborg last weekend at the World Pro Trials, DJ Jackson may be the favorite here. His immense pressure and superior wrestling seem tailor made for no gi. Aside from the Cyborg win, Dj already holds wins over Lucas Lepri and Ian McPherson – all in just a couple months at black belt. Dj could possibly have a rematch in the finals with Bill “The Grill Cooper. They fought at GrapplersQuest (I believe DJ was a purple belt) and Dj was able to get a leg lock submission win over Cooper.
Clark Gracie and his omoplata will try and stop that rematch as he is in the same bracket as Cooper. But this is if Clark beats Murilo Santana in his 2nd fight – which will be tough. Murilo doesn’t get much exposure as he comes from a smaller school in Barbosa BJJ and competes mainly in Brazil. But this guy is good! He will be in the hunt for gold. I wouldn’t be surprised with a DJ vs. Murilo final.
We have Kleber “Buiu” Oliveira (Gracie Barra Rio), Victor Bomfim (GF Team), Ezra Lenon (ATT), Pablo Popovitch (Avengers), and Romulo Barral (Gracie Barra BH).
Barral is one of the favorites here. He has had a good year thus far winning gold at the Gi Worlds in June; all coming after reconstructive knee surgery. But I am not completely sold on Barral’s no gi game – I think mostly due to his style of guard play. He has not done too well at the ADCC’s, losing in the first round at the most recent edition. But recently he seems to be favoring the top position more with his ridiculous knee slide passing, maybe he will come out and show us some take downs.
Buiu, Bomfim, Lenon and Popovitch are all in the same side of the brackets. This undoubtedly will be the tougher route to the finals. Buiu is an explosive specimen, a sort of poor man’s Jacare. He has had extensive training with Roger Gracie and will look to close out the division with teammate Barral.
Victor Bomfim is unknown here in the States but has been very successful locally in Brazil. He recently left Gordo Jiu Jitsu and has joined GF Team. Training with the likes of Rodolfo, Ricardo Evangelista, Wancler Oliveira, etc should definitely have improved his game.
Ezra Lenon came on the radar only recently with his wins over Abmar Barbosa and Pablo Popovitch. Should he make it through the earlier round he will have a rematch with Pablo in the semis.
Pablo Popovitch, Weapon X himself. I am always amazed at how this man can make it to medium heavy! He is huge! He has won his division at the No Gi worlds for several years now and probably one of the more successful no gi competitors out there – he’s done very well at all the ADCC’s he’s competed in. A Barral vs. Popovitch final will be very interesting to watch.
Pretty good field here – my 2 personal favorites are Rafael Lovato and Nivaldo Oliveira; but they are both on the same side of the brackets.
Side 1 has Roberto “Tussa” Alencar (Gracie Barra), The Turtle Master Eduardo Telles (Brassa), and Diego Gamonal (BTT).
Tussa is always a favorite to make it into the later rounds, he has one of the most memorable No Gi Worlds fights ever when he beat Marcello Louzado with a triangle in the last 30 seconds, I think 2009 edition?
Eduardo Telles is I believe a recent San Diego transplant, I think he is teaching out of Robert Lovi’s gym. From what I’ve heard he’s been training over at Galvao’s gym getting ready for this tournament, so he should be in shape to compete.
David Avellan is an interesting entry here. I am not too familiar with his BJJ lineage as I always thought he came from a sort of grappling hybrid background. But he holds wins over some of BJJ’s biggest stars: Lovato, Tarsis Humphreys, Xande Ribeiro, and Cyborg – I think most if not all came at ADCC.
Only 7 competitors but 5 of whom could win and it wouldn’t be too much of a surprise.
Alliance’s heavyweight duo of Bernardo Farias and Antonio Peinado will look to not only close out this division but the absolute as well.
The Checkmat combo of Joao Assis and Tarcisio Jardim will be no push over’s. Joao has a bye in the first round and should meet Farias in the semis. Tarcisio get’s a tough first match in Peinado but the winner of that will have to face the legendary Xande Ribeiro.
Xande should be on point as he has probably been focusing on no gi for several months now due to his recent no gi super fight vs. Dean Lister. I think Xande meets Farias in the finals, a rematch of the 2011 world’s gi final where Bernardo squeaked out a win over Xande.
Who can stop Cyborg? Judging from the list, I don’t think anyone can. This will be his division to lose
Female Black Belt
Final will be Nyjah Easton (Lloyd Irvin) vs. Sofia Amarante (Avengers).
Recently promoted black belt Ana Carolina Vidal should win this division.
Only 3 competitors but Bia Mesquita (Gracie Humaita/Leticia Ribeiro) is in it. She is always fun to watch with her technicality and intensity. She will also be a favorite in the Absolute.
Just 2 competitors, but are in the top 10 women practitioners in the world right now.
Penny Thomas (Gracie Humaita/Limao JJ) goes against Luisa Monteiro (Cicero Costa). Penny is an avid competitor and is probably one of the most familiar faces in the women’s scene. She lost to Fernanda Mazzelli in the finals of the gi worlds this year.
Luiza Monteiro has really come around in the last year. I believe she got most of her training from Checkmat but this year joined her boyfriend Leandro Lo over at Cicero Costha. At the gi edition of the tournament this year, Luiza took gold in her division and silver in the absolute – where she beat Luanna Alzuguir in the semis.
Michelle Nicolini – not cause she’s the only entrant but she is also bad a$$! She’ll rest and be a favorite for the finals.
The women here are breathing a sigh of relief, no Gabi Garcia this year! 2 entrants in Tammy Griego (Gracie Barra/Tussa Alencar) and Fernanda Mazzelli. I think Fernanda wins this.