“I’m ready for my brown belt, if they’re ready to give it to me”

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Gianni Grippo. Photo Deb Blyth.

In the purple belt featherweight division, Gianni Grippo of Renzo Gracie won the gold in a dog fight against Pedro Torres of Alliance. This fight was a rematch from the 2011 Pan semifinal, with Grippo emerging the victor both times. Grippo had seven matches in his division. He won five of them by points and two of them by submissions. His semifinal and final matches were not won easily. “They were tough to say the least,” Grippo says, “I went crazy training for this tournament. Today was a battle.”

Grippo says his goal was to not surrender any points during the day. “I gave up two points in my final seventh match,” he says, “but not in any of my other matches.” The final match was close with Grippo winning by one advantage point. “I’m on the ‘hit list’ now,” he laughs, “I know it, but I love it. It makes me train harder. I like people gunning for me.”

Grippo, who is only 19 years old, has won the Gi Worlds three times: twice as a blue belt and now he’s earned the purple belt world title too. He’s also won the No-Gi Worlds once as a blue belt and once as a purple belt. Grippo trains under Professor John Donaher and famed trainer Martin Rooney is his conditioning coach. “I’m ready for my brown belt, if they’re ready to give it to me,” he smiles.

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