What would bring someone to take a one-hour ride by bus to a scalding hot gymnasium at another city on a sun-drenched long weekend in Rio de Janeiro? The answer’s simple: top-notch Jiu-Jitsu. This Saturday marked day one of the World Pro Jiu-Jitsu Championship-qualifying tournament held in Niteroi, a city across the Guanabara Bay from Rio de Janeiro. The gymnasium wasn’t in the best of shape but the fighters made up for it, making the trip worthwhile for anyone who forwent spending the day at the beach.
Besides getting to meet up with old friends, the highlight of the event was being able to get a glompse of heavyweight and absolute word champion Rodolfo Vieira. The GFTeam ace submitted three opponents on his way to Sunday’s under-92 kg final against Barbosa team’s Luiz Panza. Besides the excitement of having made it through to the weight class decider, Rodolfo was even more overjoyed by the news he would he seeing action at the European Open later this month: “It was a surprise. A friend of ours said he’d pay the trip, and I’m going,” he reported.
In the brown and black belt division, Rodolfo’s team secured another four berths in the main event in Abu Dhabi. In the over 92 kg division, Ricardo Evangelista overcame Bruno Bastos (Nova União) by a sweep. Besides having overcome one of last year’s finalists in Abu Dhabi, Evangelista went path three other opponents. At the other end of the bracket, Thiago Gaia (Nova União) had four matches himself. He had his work cut out for him in the semifinal against Igor Silva, but Gaia managed to work his way to back control and squeeze out a choke.
Another Master Julio Cesar student, Vitor Henrique reached the under-83 kg final after four matches. The semifinal started out with him training by a sweep to Victor Bonfim (Gordo Evolve), but he reciprocated with a sweep of his own and notched two more advantages for the win.
Barbosa team representative Adriano Silva had four matches of his own. In going through to the final, he beat David Vieira by a sweep.
The under-74 kg division belonged to GFTeam, with Vinicius Marinho and Theodoro Canal dominating the action. Marinho had three matches, with the semifinal standing out most, where he faced No-Gi Pan winner Davi Ramos. In a back-and-forth affair stuck in 50/50 guard, the match ended tied at 8-8 but with Vinicius holding a two-advantage point lead. Canal beat four opponents in closing out with his teammate.
Now Master Julio’s team sat out the under-65 kg division. The weight class belonged to the veteran Gabriel Willcox (Brazilian Fight), who can often be seen putting on a show at the Rio International Masters championship. Ahead of him, the black belt will take on the also-experienced Marcelo “Galinha” dos Santos (Instituto Reação). Willcox had four matches, while Marcelo had three really good ones.
In the femae division, Gabrielle Garcia (Alliance) carried on with her winning ways and now has Fernanda Mazelli ahead of her in the final. In the under-61 kg final, Jessica Santos takes on Hellen Bastos.