Braga Neto and 900 others at US Open

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Super heavyweight Braga Neto against Marcel Mãozinha (bottom), in the final of the 2009 Brazilian nationals. Now they are teammates in California. Photo: Gustavo Aragão.

The aim of promoter Claudio França was to reach the thousand-athlete mark, but the US Open ended sign-ups with 920, for its 15th installment in Santa Cruz, California, to kick off October 15.

“As last year we had 800 fighters, the number is really good. Next year we’ll make it,” said the master in celebration, in his usual mellow way.

Among those to sign up at the last minute, world champion (gi and no-gi) Antonio Braga Neto stands out. Neto has the thorny mission of not just winning the absolute, but overshadowing the participation of the 919 other fighters. Can the Roberto Gordo student do it?

Besides Braga Neto, black belt Marcel “Mãozinha” Fortuna, his teammate at Ralph Gracie academy, is in. Other aces to grace the mats are Philipe Della Monica, Ryan Hall, Augusto Tanquinho, Rafael Formiga, Theodoro Canal, Carlos Melo, James Foster, Mikey Gomez, Rodrigo Freitas, and Mike Weaver, among others.

The organization is also calling on spectators and athletes for the rules seminar to be conducted by Master Alvaro Mansur, an fifth-degree black belt, on the coming 14th. Click here to find out more.

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