It’s time for the Pan, which is about to kick off at 10 am in Irvine, California.
GRACIEMAG.com never flees a fight and thus gives its predictions on the main categories in yet another major tournament.
The open weight brackets haven’t yet been drawn up, nor are sign-ups out of the way. Of the names to appear in the weight divisions, standing out are revelation Marcus “Bochecha” Almeida (CheckMat), James Puopolo (Gracie Humaitá), Jarrod Bunch (Beverly Hills), David Kohl (Paragon), Clark Gracie (BJJ Revolution) and Ian MacPherson (Alliance Atlanta). If all of them go in: Bochecha in first, Jarrod second and Ian in third.
Bruno Malfacine (Alliance) is the man to beat. But Joseph Capizzi, Felipe Costa and especially the unpredictable Makato Sawada can mix things up. Prediction: Bruno Malfacine and Felipe Costa.
The light featherweight division is an ace festival, which should draw more attention than usual. Pablo Silva and Rafael Barata (Gracie Barra), Kuraoka (Axis), Felipe Lattari (Cia Paulista), Samir Chantre (Gracie Fighter), Sidemar (Cia Paulista) and Fabio Passos (Alliance) are solid names. And keep an eye on past world champions Carlos Holanda (CheckMat), Bernardo Pitel (Nova União) and Caio Terra (Gracie Fighter). Wellington Megaton (Gracie Humaitá) dropped a weight class to compete at light featherweight, promise of good takedowns. Prediction: Pablo Silva and Caio Terra.
The featherweight division, too, is chock full of tough guys, like Renan Borges (BTT), Javier Vasquez (Gracie), Canal (GFTeam) and Marcelino Freitas (Nova União). But Cobrinha doesn’t want a fifth title to escape him. Predictions: Rubens Charles “Cobrinha” and Renan Borges.
Bill Cooper, Rafael Formiga, Jonatas Tagarela, Jonathan Torres and newbie Bruno Amorim will try to impede a Langhi/Lepri shutout.
Predictions: Lucas Lepri and Michael Langhi.
Sergio Moraes looks to seal the good phase he’s been having, months after shutting out the division with Marcelo Garcia at the Worlds. According to the brackets, he will have ahead of him Diego Gamonal, Mike Fowler or Kayron Gracie, Lucas Leite or Adriano Silva, Kron Gracie or the Rodrigos, Teixeira and Costa.
Predictions: Sergio Moraes and Lucas Leite.
In spite of the known and respected names on the list, current champion Otavio Sousa Sousa (Gracie Barra-PE) is the firm favorite, if just for what he did at the last Pan (and even was runner-up in the absolute).
Predictions: Otavio Sousa and Diego Herzog.
The division captained by Rafael Lovato Jr., is infested with promising former brown. From Ecuador, Léo Iturralde comes in to “feel the black belts’ pressure,” as he posted on twitter. From São Paulo, Léo Nogueira is looking to show why he’s the current brown belt world champion. And there’s still João Assis, absolute champion at brown belt from the last Pan, Gabriel Kitober, Bernardo Faria, all holders of titles at brown belt.
Prediction: Rafael Lovato and Bernardo Faria.
Could this be the most evenly-matched division of all times? Could very well be. In it are Marcel Fortuna, Fernando Soluço, Eduardo Ramos, Bruno Bastos, Carlos Melo and Rodrigo Cavaca, on one side; and Felipe “Monstro” Pacces, Guybson Sá, Braga Neto, Rodrigo Pinheiro, Daniel Azevedo and Roberto Tussa (moving up in weight), on the other.
Predictions? Get me out of this one, friend! Cavaca is one of the favorites, but he might not have trained that much because of his arm… I’ll take a stab: Braga Neto and Bruno Bastos.
Big Mac on one side, Gabriel Vella on the other. That’s the final prediction.