Before the black belt finals began, Tony, the official announcer, reminded everyone, with his powerful voice: – In 1995, The Jiu-Jitsu Pan-American gathered 150 athletes in this very location to begin an odyssey. Fifteen years thereafter, here we are again and 2,800 athletes stepped onto the ten match areas set up in 2010. Jiu-Jitsu is here to stay! A solid stream of applause followed, each applauding the other and themselves, since each of us (including you) is a part of the bewildering growth of the Gentle Art.
In all four days were devoted totally to Jiu-Jitsu. Each of the nearly 3 thousand competitors deserves thanks for their love for the sport. But, as space is limited, we will highlight some who embody the spirit of the most popular championship of the year. Ricardo “Franjinha” Miller, leader of Paragon BJJ, made his debut in the Senior 2 division in grand style. He won his weight class and the absolute: – And didn’t suffer a single point scored against me! – he celebrated.
Abmar Barbosa, of Drysdale BJJ, was a welcome surprise. He scored 11 to 0 over Kron Gracie with authority in the second round of the middleweight category and had a riveting bout with another member of the family, Kayron.
Indeed, the recently-promoted black belt was the second big name of the Pan 2010. – He fought like a veteran! Put that in the article! – “decreed” a renowned teacher. We put it in not because of the decree, but because he deserves it. Kayron was brilliant. With a rubber back, the “kid”, as he is known by friends at Gracie Barra, knew how to control his matches and annul his opponents’ strength, among them world champion Sergio Moraes.
– I have a lot of experienced people helping me in training. – said Kayron, sharing the credit. If Kayron was the second big name, the greatest personality of Pan 2010 was, without a doubt, Bernardo Faria.
– Who? The less attentive would ask. Minas Gerais native Bernardo Faria has been a black belt since September of 2008. – I consider myself to still be a first-year black belt. – he says. Good the guard, Faria had already had a good showing at the European Championship, when he closed out the heavyweight division with General Gurgel, but a loss to Cavaca took him out of the running in the absolute in Lisbon. In Irvine, the boy with a degree in business administration, but who makes his living in Jiu-Jitsu, was on a roll. In the open class, he beat Gabriel Vella and managed to exact revenge over Rodrigo Cavaca on Saturday. On Sunday he was unflinching against world champion (2008) Antonio Braga Neto and trailing on the scorecards the whole match managed a omoplata in the final minute, persisted and took two points as reward for the sweep. Also champion of the heavyweight division, Faria was so vibrantly overjoyed with his second gold that he brought his teammates from Alliance and the crowd in general to tears. – To be champion at black belt was a dream I just had to fulfill – he summarized. From now on, no longer will “who?” be uttered when speaking of Bernardo Faria, absolute champion of the Pan-American 2010. But that was not all. Gabriel Vella reappeared on the scene, now at Ryan Gracie academy, to win.
Cobrinha kicked off his farewell to competition year on the attack and winning, becoming the first five-time champion of the Pan at black belt. Lucas Lepri and Michael Langhi closed out the lightweight division again. Luanna Alzuguir got the submission in all her matches. Gabrielle Garcia, once again with the crowd against her (how can she be blamed for being bigger than her opponents?) took her weight class and the absolute. At brown Zak Maxwell, the boy who never cracks a smile, put on a show in the absolute final. The Regis Lebre student submitted a game Lucas Rocha, from Ze Radiola’s talent factory. Hillary Williams nearly had her arm yanked out by Gabrielle’s arm on Saturday, but returned Sunday to win the middleweight division with two submissions. – My arm hurts a lot, but I’m happy with the medals! – gushed the blond, who heads to Abu Dhabi for the World Pro JJ Cup. There was more, much more, but room is scarce. Click here for complete results. Don’t miss GRACIEMAG 159, bringing complete coverage from the 2010 Pan, with a full photo spread.