The year of 2006 in the World Jiu-Jitsu Championship was all about Xande Ribeiro. Beating the odds, he defeated favorite Roger Gracie to be crowned male adult black belt open class champion. At Tijuca, in the last year the Worlds were held in its birthplace, Xande took the gold using takedowns as his big weapon, at least in the final against Roger. To get there, Roger’s 5th and Xande’s 1st, the two had no easy path.
Roger first choked Zumbi Lara from the back, then caught Rodrigo Cavaca on a triangle. The semifinal was against Marcelo Garcia and here is how GRACIEMAG #114 reported it.
Standing, Roger saw the Alliance middleweight tangle his short legs and try to pull him into guard. Roger maneuvered and kneeled in the half-guard; passed it at 3:27; Marcelinho was trying to slide away from danger, but as he escaped the mount he left his back exposed to the rival. Roger sat on a Garcia who had his belly down, used the hooks in the so-called “spread-chicken” position and trapped the neck at 5:22. “This year he gave me even less room,” Marcelo smiled.
Xande also had three fights until the gold medal match. First he faced a newly promoted to black belt Tarsis Humphreys and scored a solid 13-0. The next opponent was Romulo Barral, who started ahead with a sweep. Xande swept back, passed and got the mount, from where he choked Rominho. The spot on the final would come with another choke from the mount over Roberto “Cyborg” Abreu, who had defeated Braulio Estima and Demian Maia.
The final was the last match of the championship, as it usually is, on late Sunday afternoon. Here is how it went, according to the report of GRACIEMAG’S Marcelo Dunlop, on issue #114:
Indeed, Roger Gracie vs Xande Ribeiro begins in outright standup action, with a duel of such strong grips that Xande is at one point left without his upper gi. Roger drives him off, resists Xande’s charges and, with de-ashi-barai, takes down the younger Ribeiro brother at 7:30.“It was then that Alexandre started to recover,” Saulo narrates. “Roger tried for a guillotine attack, pulled into guard and suffered the two points. Draw. Alexandre went to the half-guard, got an advantage and Roger restored the guard.”
Precisely when Saulo shouted from the fence, “Keep it, he’ll get desperate,” at 5min, Roger again took the lead in their Jiu-Jitsu spectacle: with an omoplata, he made the Gracie Humaitá black-belt turn, thus characterizing the sweep: 4-2 for Roger. With 3:30 to go, the 2003/04/05 vice-champion went after the submission that was missing in a perfect campaign. On the ground, he embraces the foe’s back, rests his head and breathes, as if noticing the time to let the chronograph do its job.
Wrong. Their rhythm remains, and Roger keeps the fight open. So open that, at 40s to go, they both get up. Could lighting strike twice? The answer comes thundering down and causes a roar in the gym: from the fence, Saulo performs an ippon-seio-nage in the air and shouts: “The takedown!” Through telepathy or whatever it is that unites two brothers, Xande repeats the gesture and grabs Roger’s collar; the latter’s defensive instinct is overwhelmed by his not-so-cautious submitting instinct: rival’s back unprotected, Gracie sees the chance to connect with the hooks and attack the neck. The scale tips over toward Xande.
Roger goes to the ground. Referee Muzio De Angelis raises two fingers. The clock says 15s. The chronograph goes over its routine: end of fight and tournament, 4-4 on the score, with one advantage to Roger and two to the new king, Alexandre. “It was a wazari attained at a perfect shot,” Xande summed up, after a long hug to his brother Saulo.