Eyes on the feeder divisions at 2011 Worlds

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Double gold medal winner Matheus Guilherme Da Costa with Muzio De Angelis / Photos: Deb Blyth

Middle heavy juvenile blue belt Matheus Guilherme Da Costa of Gracie Humaita really turned up the heat at the 2011 Worlds to win gold in both his weight class and in the absolute. This double gold winner was overwhelmed with his good fortune. “I’m a double gold world champion!” the-17-year-old grinned.

Da Costa had three matches in his weight class and he closed all of them out with submissions. At the time he won in his division, he was already so happy that he said, “I have no words to describe how I feel.” This was Da Costa’s second time winning the Worlds in his weight. He also won it in 2010, but he did not participate in the absolute. This year he did.

In the open class, Da Costa had five matches. Two he won by submission and three he won by points. In his final match he faced Igor Schneider of Godoi JJ Club. Da Costa was familiar with Schneider as he had recently fought him at the Brazilian Nationals and lost to him. “This was a rematch,” he said, “When I lost to him before, I didn’t like it. The loss felt like it was up in my throat. It was a bad day.” Da Costa was able to put all those old feelings aside for the fight and he ended up beating Schneider 8-0 to secure the absolute Worlds win.

Da Costa, who enters the big tournaments as a juvenile but fights all the others as an adult, says his dream is to one day become a black belt. Until then he says, “If my professor feels I’m ready, then I am ready for purple belt!”

Angelo Guerrero Barden (on the left) and gold medal winner Dante Leon (right)

In the Juvenile 1 division, 15-year-old Dante Leon of Ribeiro JJ Detroit won his middleweight division in a final match against his teammate, 14-year-old Angelo Guerrero Barden of Ribeiro JJ San Diego. “We don’t close out brackets,” Leon said, “We fight.”

Leon had three matches in his division. He won two by submission and the final by armbar. Leon is making his mark as a juvenile blue belt. He won the 2011 Pan in the lightweight division and has now captured gold at the 2011 Worlds. “Winning the Worlds is a level up,” the assured teenager said, “There’s no better feeling than this. I trained six days a week, three times a day and I lifted weights. I trained as hard as I could.” This was Leon’s first Worlds and he says his experience was awesome. “Watching all the top guys compete then competing yourself is really something.”

Barden also had three matches. He won two of them on points, losing the third and final match to Leon by armbar. As the two wrapped up their interviews, Barden showed some nice sportsmanship by turning to Leon and saying, “That was a really nice armbar you got on me.”

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