For the third time, Checkmat BJJ has won the No-Gi Worlds adult division team contest, with Gracie Barra coming in second and Lloyd Irvin in third. In the juvenile division, Alliance came in first, with Gracie Barra taking second and Ralph Gracie clinching third. In the Master/Senior division, Checkmat took first place, Gracie Humaita took second and Gracie Barra came in third.
The big double gold medal winner of the day was adult black belt Marcus “Buchecha” Almeida of Checkmat BJJ, who won his super heavyweight division against Antonio Peinado of Alliance and then took gold in the open class, closing out the bracket with teammate João Assis.
In his weight division, Buchecha had two matches. He submitted his first opponent with an armbar and then in the final, against his good friend Antonio, he got a quick arm triangle to finish the match. “I was wondering what he was doing at the beginning of the match,” Buchecha says of Antonio, “He pulled guard, which was strange because he normally doesn’t do that. I was able to get my arm in and get the arm triangle. Buchecha says he was really happy to get to fight to the finish this time; he’s had to close out brackets with his teammates on a few ocasions, so it was nice to have the opportunity to fight and win this one on his own.
In the absolute, Buchecha had three matches. He won the first match 17-2; the second, against his good friend Marcel Gonçalves of the Avengers, by points; and his third, against Jimmy Harbison of Lloyd Irvin, with a foot lock. “He is a tough guy,” Buchecha says of Jimmy, “I’d fought him before in the gi, but I didn’t know his No-Gi game. I was able to get a tight footlock in and submit him.” Then Buchecha closed out the final with teammate João Assis. “Last year we closed out the division and I gave it to him, so today he gave it back to me,” Buchecha says happily.
Buchecha says this is the first tournament he’s been the big name at for winning double gold, but he’s actually won the open class at a Worlds event (Gi and No-Gi) at every belt level – blue, purple, brown, and black. That is quite an accomplishment for this 21-year-old black belt who started training in Jiu-Jitsu with his dad when he was young. “My dad’s a black belt too,” Buchecha says, “I still roll with him twice a week. He’s really strong.”
Buchecha’s dream has always been to be a world champion (which has come true many times now) and to make Jiu-Jitsu his life. His parents have always supported him in this quest. “Once I stopped training and my dad said, ‘No, my son! You keep training. You’ll be known all over the world for your Jiu-Jitsu.’ He was right. Before Jiu-Jitsu I’d never left my state in Brazil. Jiu-Jitsu has taken me all around the world.”
Buchecha says, even though his dad is in real estate and Jiu-Jitsu is just for fun for him, he and Buchecha’s mom have supported him all along his journey in the gentle art and he has really appreciated it. “My parents are the basis for who I am today,” Buchecha says, “They support me and tell me I can be whatever I want to be. I’m proud to be their son. This title today is for them.” Buchecha would like to thank his students in Florida; Joe Mollings, who was his boss in Florida; his master Rodrigo Cavaca; and all of his Checkmat teammates. Buchecha says, “I also want to thank my parents, my friends, Koral Gis and God.”
Michelle Nicolini of Checkmat BJJ was the big double gold No-Gi Worlds winner of the women’s adult brown/black open class and her featherweight division. Interestingly enough, Michelle and Buchecha are boyfriend/girlfriend, so today’s win was very special for both of them.
In her featherweight division, Michelle had one match against Lloyd Irvin’s Nyjah Easton. Nyjah was a firecracker, coming at Michelle quickly and aggressively. “I knew she was going to pull guard, and she did it fast,” Michelle says, “I needed to open her guard to get to half-guard. I took her back and got an armbar.”
In the absolute, the pressure was on Michelle to win because she won the open class last year at the No-Gi Worlds and she wanted a repeat for this year. She had two matches. She won the first with an armbar in about two minutes, and in the final against Beatriz Mesquita of Gracie Humaita, she was able to get her trademark footlock for the win. “Bia is one of the toughest girls,” Michelle says, “I knew I had to be careful. She’s very smart, and Leticia (Ribeiro) is her coach and she is the best. I had to fight against Bia on the mats and Leticia off the mat!”
Michelle says she had a great experience at the No-Gi Worlds. “I feel very free in No-Gi,” she says, “I love it. People can’t use so much power against me without a gi.” Next up for Michelle are the Abu Dhabi World Pro Trials in Manaus. Then she will continue to train until mid January, when she leaves for another whirlwind European seminar tour. She will then begin her gi season and compete at every big competition around the world. Her goal for 2012 is to win the Europeans, the Pan, the Worlds and the No-Gi Worlds. She hasn’t done it yet, but she’s hoping 2012 will be her year.
Michelle, who is 29 years old has been training for 12 years. She’s a first degree black belt and says she should be seeing another stripe on her black belt next year. The thing she likes best about the Jiu-Jitsu lifestyle is the travel she gets to do and she also likes seeing how Jiu-Jitsu changes other people’s lives she comes into contact with along the way. “I’m always surprised by how many people love Jiu-Jitsu,” she says, “I love to see how it’s changed people’s lives. I also love it when people tell me I inspire them by my fighting. I always want to do my best.”