A lot was at stake this Saturday in Natal, Brazil. Besides the thirteen all-expenses-paid trips to the World Pro finals in Abu Dhabi, five thousand dollars would be distributed among the absolute winners, guaranteeing hard-fought battles. And in the first South American qualifier to take place in Brazil’s northeast, despite athletes from the entire country participating, the representatives from the northern region of the country showed their grounds skills are up to speed. Among the black belt standouts, Antonio Carlos “Cara de Sapato” took top spot in both the under 92kg division and the absolute.
The CheckMat brown belt, who this year closed out the absolute division with Marcus Bochecha at the Worlds, put on a show. At weight, the beast from the state of Paraíba had three matches. In the first, he swept and took Renan Vital’s (Gordo) back. Next he won with a choke. In the decider, he attacked the hard-nosed Fabiano Boi’s (Alliance) back till putting both hooks in. That stamped his ticket to Abu Dhabi.
Then, Antonio beat two more opponents in the absolute, until closing out with Nilson Ricardo (Nova União) in second and Fabiano Boi and Caio Alencar (Kimura Nova União) in third. On the winners’ stand, professor Helder “Bob Sponja” Medeiras was left with no choice but to promote his student to black belt, an emotional conclusion to the event.
In the over 92 kg division, another beast from the northeast – the city of Natal – had it all. Caio Alencar (Kimura/Nova União) submitted everyone in his way. First with a triangle, then an arm-triangle. In the semifinal he won via armbat and, in the match deciding his spot at the World Pro, against Vitor Hugo (Nova União), the submission came by way of a choke from back mount.
The under-83 kg division ent to Amazonas state, with Robert Drysdale’s ace Robert “Pato” Fonseco. On the way, the black belt tapped out fighters of the caliber of Adriano Silva (Barbosa). Fighting a total of three matches, Pato’s gold came after overcoming Nilson Ricardo (Nova União), runner-up at the Brazilian No-Gi Nationals, who overcame hard-nosed competitors like Eduardo Telles (Nine Nine). An armbar secured him his all-expenses-paid tri to the World Pro.
The under-83 kg weight group was decided between Davi Ramos (Top Brother) and Leonardo “Cascão” Saggioro. Davi took the upper hand in the even match with a penalty point. Earlier, the champion landed a choke from back mount, went past Helder “Bob Sponja” (CheckMat) by two advantages to one and beat Thiago Rocha (Alliance) with a sweep.
Richard Ávila (Kamikaze) flew in from Criciuma, in the south of the country, and didn’t regret it. Ávila defeated four opponents and didn’t have to do the final. The reason: the semifinal between Diego Quadros (Nova União) and Maximiliano (CheckMat) ended with both being disqualified, for three penalty points each. All that was left for Richard to do was celebrate his travel and board in Abu Dhabi.
Alliance girls win big
Dynamic duo from Fabio Gurgel’s team Pinky and Brain – read Gabrielle Garcia and Luanna Alzuguir – carry on with their quest to conquer the world! Gabi landed to takedowns and finished with a clock choke in the over 62 kg division. In a three-woman bracket, she saw her opponent win her next match to go through to the final. There was no need to fight, however, as she withdrew due to injury, securing Gabi the gold. Now Luanna Alzuguir, in the under 62 kg division, finished her first two matches with a triangle and a choke. In the final she faced off with Marina Ribeiro (CheckMat), who also finished all her matches. In an evenly-matched dispute, ending in a draw, the referee decided in the Alliance reps favor.
The show didn’t belong just to the brown and black belts. At purple, Rio de Janeiro’s Alexandre Cavalieri (Gordo) had a total of eight matches to take third at weight and gold in the lightweight absolute, securing his trip to the World Pro. Now São Paulo’s Arnaldo de Oliveira (Gabas J) had seven matches to win his weight and the heavyweight absolute at purple belt.
In the blue belt division, Denílson Bischiliari (Atos) had four matches at weight and another four in the absolute to take two golds. In the heavyweight absolute, Gregory Rodrigues came up spades. Among the blue belt girls, the young Jaqueline Amorim (Asle), just fifteen, and Suellen Tobias, who won the final with a forearm choke, are the big winners heading to the United Arab Emirates.
Check back for the complete photo gallery later.