Countdown to the 2016 Worlds: how Leandro Lo won four world titles in three weight divisions in four years

Leandro Lo
Leandro Lo

Birthday boy Leandro Lo is turning 27 this Wednesday, May 11.

The leader of NS Brotherhood appeared in the black belt division like a rocket in 2011, when he beat Michael Langhi and Celso Venícius at the WPJJC, in Abu Dhabi.

Since then, he has built quite an impressive record and he has already written his name in the history of the world championship.

Lo is now a four-time world champion, but not a regular one.

Since 2012, he has won four gold medals in three different weight divisions: lightweight (2012-13), middleweight (2014), medium-heavy (2015).

Let’s look back and see how he did it.

Lo’s first appearance in the black belt division of the Worlds was not a very pleasure one.

In 2011, he made his way to the lightweight quarterfinals, but could not resist Kron Gracie’s game and ended up tapping to a choke from the back.

One year later, he was back to try it again and things worked out differently.

The final match was against Lucas Lepri, the third encounter in less than four months that year.

“He’s got a really tight game. Our matches are always decided by the smallest of details. At the Pan, I won with a sweep, then at the WPJJC, he beat me by an advantage and now at the Worlds I won by an advantage.”

GRACIEAMSG’s Dan Rod captured Lo’s emotion perfectly after the 2012 lightweight final: “It’s the happiest day of my life!” said Lo.

Leandro Lo at the 2012 Worlds
Leandro Lo at the 2012 Worlds

In 2013, Lo tried to move up to the middleweight division and had a disappointing showing at the Pan, just two months prior to the the Worlds.

Back at the lightweight, he met his well known rivals and once again was able to put his game to work.

This time, he beat Lepri in the semifinal and swept Michael Langhi in the final for his second gold medal.

Questioned to evaluate his performance, he answered with a straight face: “I submitted no one. I have to improve!”

After the second title as a lightweight, Lo decided to make his move to the middleweight.

Two reasons motivated him to make the change, as he explained in 2014: “I want new challenges and I also want to be stronger for the open class.”

Yes, that’s right, one of Lo’s main goals at the Worlds is to become the black belt open class champion someday and he knows he has to be heavier to have the chance to do so.

So then, he went to face two-time champion Otavio Sousa in what turned out to be one of the best matches of that year.

Lo’s base when on top and Sousa’s vicious attacks from bellow made the crowd stand up the whole time.

Just watch.

So we come to 2015 and Lo decided to move up another weight division.

Still looking for that open gold medal, Lo gained a few pounds in muscles and jumped in the medium-heavy division.

Once again using his sweep powers and almost unbeatable top base, he beat Tarsis Humphreys for his fourth gold medal in four years.

The Open class

Lo made his first appearance at the black belt absolute division at the Worlds in 2013. Still a lightweight, he was stopped by Bernardo Faria with a 2-0 lead in the eightfinals.

One year later, Lo went for his second attempt to make history and be the lightest athlete to win the open class. Unfortunately, a 6-4 defeat to Keenan Cornelius in the eightfinals put a break on his attempt.

In 2015, Lo had his best appearance so far in the open class. Perhaps, his plan of moving up in weight divisions is working. This time, he beat Keenan 8-6 in the quarterfinals to meet Bernardo Faria in the semfinal. The battle against Keenan was later considered the best match of the year.

Click to watch.

Don’t forget to register for the 2016 World championship.

The final deadline is May 24.

Click here to sign up now.

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