10 fighters to keep your eye on in 2010

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GRACIEMAG.com is no betting site, but it tends to come up spades when it comes to predicting future Jiu-Jitsu champions. With the season just beginning, we decided to stick our necks out and pick ten names to show up time and again on the website and in the magazine this year. Did we forget anyone? Leave your comment below.

10 – Patrick Gaudio (Top Brother)

Patrick on the winners' stand at the Worlds. Personal archives.

Juvenile blue belt Patrick (Top Brother) was World and Brazilian National champion in 2009. At the Rio de Janeiro state championship he won at weight and absolute and remains a great promise. The Carioca is the son of black belt and IBJJF referee Fabiano Gaudio, and brings his proud pop nothing but joy.

9 – José Carlos “Polenguinho” Dias (Nova União)

Polengue squeezes out the kimura. Photo: Carlos Ozório

Despite his being a juvenile, with Brazilian National, Brazilian Team National and Rio International Open titles, the Nova União blue belt competes in the adult division, where he beat a slew of opponents at featherweight at the Rio State Championship. Polengue comes from a family of fighters. He is the brother and cousin of MMA beasts Hacran Dias and Marlon Sandro, respectively, and has his mind on competing in the cage, too.

8 – José Carlos (DDR)

Zé Carlos is coming on strong. Photo: Carlos Ozório.

In 2009, Jose Carlos didn’t see action at the Worlds. For the Brazilian Nationals, the collapse of a bridge made his arrival at the Tijuca Tennis Club impossible, as the competitor is from the town of Araruama, north of the city of Rio. Even so, Zé has been impressive. Despite his only being a purple belt, he beat black belt Gilbert Durinho at the Abu Dhabi World Jiu-Jitsu Pro qualifiers. At the Rio Open he was the best at middleweight. The beast from DDR JJ also won the 2008 Brazilian Nationals and the Pan.

7 – Zach Maxwell (Gracie Humaitá)

Zach sinks a choke in the final of the last Worlds. Photo: Regis Chen.

A Regis Lebre student, the American has been impressing for some years now and promises to make things even tougher for his opponents in 2010. He won the Pan at purple belt in 2008, and at brown in 2009. His first world title came last season, at brown belt, after choking Eduardo Ramos (Atos) in the featherweight final. “And he doesn’t even smile after his wins,” repeats friend Fabricio Morango after each of the promising youth’s triumphs.

6 – Beatriz Mesquita (Gracie Humaitá)

Bia in the purple belt absolute final of the 2009 Worlds. Photo: Ivan Trindade.

A Letícia Ribeiro student, the athlete from Saquarema, Rio de Janeiro wins nearly everything she is in. After taking gold at the 2009 Pan, she repeated the feat at the Worlds, a competition she has won the last three installments of. In 2009, the lightweight also made it onto the winners’ stand for the absolute. The result earned her her brown belt, which she went right to work using. Proof she is the real deal came when she won the Rio Open, where she competed against black belts, since, in the female division, brown and black belts compete against each other.

5 – Ian McPherson (Alliance)

Ian is another ace out of Alliance. Photo: Luca Atalla

An ace with his own fan club in the USA, McPherson is the student of Romero Jacaré, in Atlanta. At the last World Championship, in the medium heavyweight brown belt division, the fighter demonstrated great technical proficiency. In the deciding match, he beat Rhalan Gracie, son of Relson, and took top spot on the podium. He’s our bet for brown belt absolute gold this year.

4 – Gunnar Nelson (Renzo Gracie)

Gunnar, on top, against Vinny Pezão. Photo: Carlos Ozório

The youth from Iceland, Gunnar Nelson, had an excellent campaign at the 2009 Jiu-Jitsu Worlds as a middleweight brown belt. He was only stopped in the decider by Gabriel Goulart, of Alliance, another who has just what it takes to dazzle in 2010. It was at the ADCC in Barcelona, though, where Nelson won the match that would place him on this list: he encountered favorites in the absolute division, like Jeff Monson and David Avellan, beating both to take fourth place. In MMA he is undefeated with six fights.

3 – Ary Farias (CheckMat)

GRACIEMAG.com was present when Ary was awarded his black belt. At brown the fighter won the Pan, European and Worlds. Photo: Carlos Ozório

Ary is one of the professor Ricardo Vieira’s greatest promises. The prodigy disputed and won everything he could at every belt, ending with brown belt, in 2009. He was champion of Europe, the Pan and the Worlds, at light featherweight. Until the 2010 World Championship at least, he will remain a brown belt. But he’s a rookie with the experience of a veteran, thus he shouldn’t feel the pressure of getting his black belt as often happens. Keep an eye peeled for him.

2 Philipe “Furão” Della Monica  (Gracie Barra)

Furão with teammate Marcelo Arroz, no Mundial. Photo: Ray Santana.

Gracie Barra’s money is on this black belt this year. In 2009, Furão took third at the Jiu-Jitsu Worlds. In 2010, though, he will compete at middleweight, one division up. An Aldo Caveirinha student, from Minas Gerais, the Gracie Barra America teacher is all set to make life hard for a lot of people in the toughest division of the Worlds.

1 – Ricardo “Demente” Abreu  (Nova União)

In small towne São Paulo, Ricardo has been training and lifting like a bull Photo: Personal archive.

After years out of action, disillusioned by the lack of sponsorship, the Robinho Moura student returned going full steam at the 2009 Worlds. He caught everyone’s attention by overcoming with mastery such beasts as Antonio Braga Neto and Antonio Peinado and only stopped at champion Roger Gracie, in the super heavyweight final. After winning the absolute of the South American Championship, he is hard at work (as you can see in the photo) in preparing to take the European Championship and go into the 2010 Worlds as strong as can be.

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