Tuesday, May 26, 2015

2015 IBJJF World Jiu-Jitsu Championships (Preview)

2015 IBJJF Worlds here we come!  This year features a new method of determining WHO can participate at the black belt level.  Competitors were required to compete throughout the year in IBJJF event in order to accumulate enough points in order to qualify for the Worlds Championship tournament.  This has prevented the typical monster-sized divisions at black belt and should ensure that those competing deserve to be there.  Prior to this pretty much anyone could enter the tournament at black belt so I think it's a good thing for this particular event.

So you want to watch this live?  Well you are in luck because it's being streamed here:

I will warn people that I personally have had problems watching some streaming events (2015 Pan & EBI III specifically).  Upon the checkout process I would receive an error stating "invalid country specified."  Unfortunately I could never get an answer from Budovideos or the IBJJF.  I was able to determine that the company that is handling transactions for these events are based in Europe.  My bank was basically kicking back the charges unbeknownst to me.  So that being said if you have any problems ordering the event you may need to contact your bank or credit card company to inform them that it is not a fraudulent charge.

With that out of the way let's get on to the good stuff!

As usual I will list some of the brown belt divisions that I have a vested interest in for the 2015 World Championships preview.  I think it's silly to ignore the non-black belt divisions as were are looking (or should be) at the future crop of talented black belts for years to come.

Brown / Adult Male / Light Feather (34 Competitors)
2014 Champ: Ram Ananda (Alliance) / 2nd place: Windson Ramos Silva (CheckMat)

There are a handful names that stand out for me: Michael Musumeci Jr (ATT), Michael Woolf Barnato (Ralph Gracie), Darson Hemmings (Ribeiro JJ), Jacob Sandoval (Alliance).  Do not sleep on Gustavo Fonseca (Atos) either but the first three are my favorites to make it to the podium.

My pick: Michael Musumeci Jr (ATT)...and I predict a black belt promotion in short order.

Brown / Adult Male / Feather (49 Competitors)
2014 Champ: Marcio Andre (Nova Uniao) / 2nd place: Isaac Doederlein (Alliance)

Cobrinha talent Isaac Doederlein (Alliance) is my immediate favorite in this division.  Rick Slomba of Atos is a personal favorite that I think will do some damage but for me this one is easy. Doederlein is ready for the next level.

My pick: Isaac Doederlein (Alliance)

Brown / Adult Male / Light (60 Competitors)
2014 Champ: Michael Liera Jr. (Atos)

Romulo Barral protege Edwin Najmi (Gracie Barra) will likely be everyone's favorite in this division. Don't sleep on Brandon Russell (Lovato) is a solid competitor to keep an eye on.

Brown / Adult Male / Super Heavy (17 Competitors)
2014 Champ: Erberth Santos (TLI)

My pick: Jared Lynn Dopp (Lovato JJ)

Black / Adult Male / Rooster (9 Competitors)
2014 Champ: Bruno Malfacine (Alliance) / 2nd place: J. Miyao (PSLPB)

This year reigning champ Malfacine return to defend his title but for the second year in a row we won't be treated to Caio Terra in competition.  The usual names are present though: Fabbio Passos (Alliance), Rafael Freitas (Gracie Barra), Joao Miyao (PSLPB Cicero Costha), Koji Shibamoto (Tri-Force).  I would expect to see a rematch of Malfacine x Miyao in the final.  Last year's battle was very close and I'd expect no less.  Miyao has been much more active over the last year so I have to give him the edge.

My pick: Joao Miyao (PSLPB Cicero Costha)

Black / Adult Male / Light Feather (16 Competitors)
2014 Champ: Gui Mendes (Atos) / 2nd place: P. Miyao (PSLPB)

In case you haven't heard in recent news, Gui Mendes has announced that he is retiring from competition so we will not see him in the tournament.  The big names that jump out this year are as follows: Samir Chantre (Brasa CTA), Carlos Vieira Holanda (CheckMat), Paulo Miyao (PSLPB), Daniel Beleza (SAS Team USA), and Vitor Paschoal (Brasa CTA).  Depending on how the brackets are set up I would favor seeing Samir Chantre x P. Miyao (PSLPB) in the final.

My pick: P. Miyao (PSLPB)

Black / Adult Male / Feather (16 Competitors)
2014 Champ: Rafael Medes (Atos) / 2nd place: Cobrinha (Alliance)

Well I will say that Cobrinha was kind of a last minute competitor to show up into the division so I'm really excited to see a very stacked division this year at Feather.  Gianni Grippo (Alliance) has shown that he has the chops to compete at the highest of levels coming off gold at Abu Dhabi among other titles over the last 9 months at black belt.  He has had some wars with P. Miyao and Osvaldo Moizinho aka Queixinho who is also competing at Feather.  Mario Reis (Alliance) will most certainly be a favorite to medal.  The seemingly never againg Megaton Dias (Gracie Humaita) will be present to show these young guys he still has what it takes to compete at 47.  It's very difficult to say who will make it to the final and I'm excited to see how the brackets are set up for this one.

My pick: Rafa Mendes (Atos)

Black / Adult Male / Light (20 Competitors)
2014 Champ: Lucas Lepri (Alliance) / 2nd place: Jonathan Torres (Atos)

I am very interested in the Light division this year.  We are usually treated to a Michael Langhi & Lucas Lepri (Alliance) close out in the finals.  Just a few weeks ago Nova Uniao black belt Luan Carvalho Alves edged out Michael Langhi at the Brasiliero's in the semi-finals and went on to take gold in that tournament.  That said I expect Luan to be a contender at this years Worlds in the Light division.  *EDIT: Apparently Luan will not be competing as it appears he may be having visa issues to travel for the competition.* Enter newer black belts Michael Liera Jr. (Atos) and Andris Brunovskis (Atos); don't sleep on Rodrigo Caporal (Atos) or last year's silver medalist Jonathan Torres (Atos).  Atos has a very strong presence in the division and will make some noise.  I'm excited to see how Liera will do being a newer black belt.

My pick: Lucas Lepri (Alliance)

Black / Adult Male / Middle (22 Competitors)
2014 Champ: Leandro Lo (PSLPB) / 2nd place: Otavio Sousa (Gracie Barra)

I feel very certain the returning middle weights are pleased to see that Lo has moved up to Medium Heavy for this year's tournament.  This is an incredibly stacked division.  2014 silver medalist Otavio Sousa (GB) returns and is likely the immediate favorite.  Sinistro (Alliance), new Marcelo Garcia black belts Jonathan Satava & Marcos Tinoco (Alliance) will have their hands full but should be exciting to watch.  Tanner Rice (Amazonas), Atos standout Claudio Calasans, Murilo Santana (Barbosa JJ), Marcel Mafra (CheckMat), Victor Estima (Gracie Barra), Magid Hage (Gracie Barra), and last but not least Victor Oliveira (GF Team) round out an impressive line-up.

My pick: Victor Estima (Gracie Barra)

Black / Adult Male / Medium Heavy (20 Competitors)
2014 Champ: Braulio Estima (Gracie Barra) / 2nd place: Romulo Barral (Gracie Barra)

Well neither 2014 finalists will be competing this year.  Braulio is out due to suspension for failing PED testing last year and Barral is focused primarily on ADCC this year.  That's okay though because we will be treated to Leandro Lo (PSLPB) stepping up a weight class which I doubt will be a problem for him.  He is usually in the finals of the Open Weight class every tournament so barring injury he has to be a heavy favorite.  Marcelo Garcia black belt Matheus Diniz is going to be someone to keep a close eye on.  Gustavo Campos and Pedro Mello both of Atos will be likely forces.   Depending on how the brackets are set up I expect to see Lo x Campos in the final.

My pick: Leandro Lo (PSLPB)

Black / Adult Male / Heavy (19 Competitors)
2014 Champ: Felipe Pena (Gracie Barra) / 2nd place: Andre Galvao (Atos)

Again we won't be treated to defending champ "Preguinca", Galvao, OR Rafael Lovato (2014 bronze medalist).  Don't fret because Keenan Cornelius (Atos) has moved up a weight class!  Additionally we have Jackson Sousa (CheckMat), Lucas Leite (CheckMat), Manny Diaz (Soul Fighters), and Timothy Spriggs (TLI).  Oh...and don't sleep on Xande Ribeiro (Ribeiro JJ).  Keenan had a really disappointing 2014 Worlds when he lost to Diego Gamonal (BTT) over a (in my opinion) controversial knee reap.  Keenan will for sure be looking to redeem himself and collect his first World's title at black belt.

My pick: Keenan Cornelius (Atos)

Black / Adult Male / Super Heavy (9 Competitors)
2014 Champ: Rodolfo Vieira (GF Team) / 2nd place: Bernardo Faria (Alliance)

Rodolfo won't be competing this year as he's been focused on MMA so make way for a new champ this year at Super Heavy.  Bernardo Faria (Alliance) has to be the favorite as he is usually coming up short against the monster Rodolfo.  Yri Simoes (Brasa CTA) will certainly look to improve from last year's bronze, Roberto "Tussa" Alencar (Gracie Barra) will likely find his way onto the podium.  Joao Gabriel Rocha (Soul Fighters), James Puopolo (Ribeiro JJ), and Erberth Santos (Guigo BJJ) will all be factors in a traditionally small division.

My pick: Bernardo Faria (Alliance)

Black / Adult Male / Ultra Heavy (13 Competitors)
2014 Champ: Marcus "Buchecha" Almedia (CheckMat) / 2nd place: Alexander Trans (UAE JJ)

As luck, or bad luck would have it depending on who you are...Buchecha is BACK!  Rodrigo Cavaca (Zenith BJJ), Alexander Trans (UAE), and 2014 bronze medalist Ricardo Evangelista (GF Team) are my favorites to watch in this division.

My pick: Buchecha (CheckMat)

Black / Adult Male / Open Weight Prediction
2014 Champ: Marcus "Buchecha" Almeida (CheckMat) / 2nd place: Rodolfo Vieira (GT Team)

Of course we can only imagine who will be participating in the open.  2014 runners up include Keenan & Faria.  We can obviously eliminate Rodolfo this year.  If Buchecha is able to enter the absolute then without a doubt he will be the favorite to repeat as I don't see many people being able to dethrone him.

My pick: Marcus "Buchecha" Almedia (CheckMat)

Black / Adult Female / Light Feather (4 Competitors)
2014 Champ: Gezary Bandeira (ATT)

In a tiny division we have the 2014 champ returning.  I'm not going to lie...I don't know the other competitors so my choice is easy here.

My pick: Gezary Bandeira (ATT)

Black / Adult Female / Feather (8 Competitors)
2014 Champ: Michelle Nicolini (CheckMat) / 2nd place: Tammi Musumeci (ATT)

Who can forget this match from 2014?  The final saw Nicolini with a come from behind victory and destroying Tammi's arm.  This was easily the most exciting final of last year's tournament.  Both competitors are back for 2015 but so is red-hot Mackenzie Dern (Gracie Humaita) who just seems unbeatable.  Dern is coming off gold at her weight in Abu Dhabi and not only a close win over Gabi Garcia (Alliance) but gold in the open class at Abu Dhabi.  Dern even beat Nicolini on points earlier in the same tournament.

My pick: Mackenzie Dern (Gracie Humaita)

Black / Adult Female / Light (10 Competitors)
2014 Champ: Beatriz Mesquita (Gracie Humaita) / 2nd place: Luiza Monteiro (PSLPB)

All of the medalists from 2014 outside of Luiza (moved up to Middle) are back this year and will be challenged by Angelica Galvao (Atos), and Nyjah Easton (TLI).

My pick: Beatriz Mesquita (Gracie Humaita)

Black / Adult Female / Middle (8 Competitors)
2014 Champ: Janni Larson (CheckMat)

Reigning champ Janni Larson (CheckMat) isn't returning this year to defend her title but the division gets an instant new challenge in Luiza Monteiro Costa (PSLPB).  Look for Ida Hansson (CheckMat) and Sijara Eubanks (TLI) to be making it to the podium.

My pick: Luiza Monteiro (PSLPB)

Black / Adult Female / Medium Heavy (5 Competitors)
2014 Champ: Ana Cordeiro (Gracie Barra) / 2nd place: Hannette Staack (Soul Fighters)

Hannette Staack (Soul Fighters) won't be competing this year.  Something notable is that 2014 Heavy champ Andresa Correa (Alliance) has dropped down a weight class. Outside of that my knowledge of the competitors is pretty limited.

My pick: Andresa Correa (Alliance)

Black / Adult Female / Heavy (4 Competitors)
2014 Champ: Andresa Correa (Alliance)

2014 Champ Correa has dropped down a weight class which should make way for the Marcelo Garcia talent Dominyka Obelenyte (Alliance).  Tammy Greigo (Gracie Barra) is the only big challenge I see for her this year.

My pick: Dominyka Obelenyte (Alliance)

Black / Adult Female / Super Heavy (5 Competitors)
2014 Champ: Venla Luukkonen (Hilti BJJ)

With the reigning champ returning to a small division I'm not going to make any bold predictions here.  No Gabi Garcia this year.

My pick: Venla Luukkonen (Hilti BJJ)

Black / Adult Female / Open Weight Prediction
2014 Champ: Beatriz Mesquita (Gracie Humaita) / 2nd place: Michelle Nicolini (CheckMat)

Since Gabi Garcia is not competing this year (again) we are likely to see a more competitive field.  I feel like this will be a great tournament for Dominyka Obelenyte (Alliance).

My pick: Dominyka Obelenyte (Alliance)

IBJJF Site: http://ibjjf.org/championship/world-jiu-jitsu-championship/
Schedule: http://ibjjf.org/championships/world-jiu-jitsu-championship-2015-pre-schedule-update/
Brackets: http://events.ibjjf.com/sportos/application/sheet/index.php?idevent=319&dayofevent=1
Divisions: http://static.ibjjfdb.com/Campeonato/000415/en-US/RegistrationsByCategoryAndAcademy.pdf
How to watch live: http://www.ibjjftv.com/

Gui Mendes retirement announcement:

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