The black belts only see action next weekend, but there was no lack of excitement this Saturday, at Rio de Janeiro’s Tijuca Tennis Club, with the blue and purple belt athletes. Furthermore, besides the crowd that showed up for the Brazilian Nationals, there were top-tier fighters galore watching on.
With his sights set on another team title, Fabio Gurgel led the folks from Alliance. The same went for André Marola and MMA stalwart Marlon Sandro, of Nova União; and Roberto Gordo and Pé de Pano for Gordo Evolve team. There was even Mike Fowler overseeing the gang from Lloyd Irvin. Antonio Braga Neto promise he’ll be there next weekend to mix it up with the black belts, and Hillary Williams wants into the weight and open weight action.
But, despite all these superstars in the limelight, the true stars sported their gis and took to the mats. In the blue belt category, among other standouts, Nova União boasted two champions who will prompt a lot of talk down the road. One is José Carlos “Polenguinho” Dias. 2009’s juvenile champion had six matches before getting his gold, now in the adult division, In the final, he beat Deivines dos Santos (GFTeam) with a takedown, in a hard-fought battle. At roosterweight, Evandro “Brilhante” dos Santos showed why he was given his nickname (“Brilliant” in Portuguese), and was crowned champion.
At purple belt, Marcelo Villa Nova (Alliance) had four matches and took gold. At lightweight, CheckMat’s Thiago Gaia had five bouts and won the decider by 8 to 0 (back mount) against Rodrigo da Conçeição (Alliance), a tough Alexandre Paiva student.
Also at purple belt, in the middleweight division, CheckMat doubled up with Tiago dos Santos and Jackson Sousa, to the joy of their teachers, Rodrigo Cavaca and Léo Vieira. They had four bouts a piece. This year’s Pan champion João Gabriel Rocha (Soul Fighters) carries on strong. In his fifth match, the grand finale, he defeated Gracie Barra representative Felipe “Preguiça” Carsalade, and his troublesome guard.
This Sunday, the Brazilian Nationals had the blue and purple belt absolute matches (see here).
Check out some of the images below and click here to see the full results.