10 champions promising to shine at BJJ Worlds

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João Miyao no Pan Jiu-Jitsu 2011 da IBJJF, em foto de Ivan Trindade

João Miyao on his way to gold at 2011 Pan-American Jiu-Jitsu Championship / Photo by Ivan Trindade/GRACIEMAG

It’s a formality by now, at the start of each season we point out the revelations of the fledgling year, those less celebrated athletes promising to shake up the sport Jiu-Jitsu scene.

For 2012, though, we opted to innovate. With our laser scope as honed as ever, we hereby list ten glory-bound picks for the upcoming IBJJF Worlds, the sign-ups for which end this Wednesday.

The 17th Jiu-Jitsu Word Championship begins May 31 and goes till Sunday, June 3. To secure your spot at the biggest event of the year, click here.

Only excluded from the list are athletes previously mentioned in 2010 and 2011.

* The athletes mentioned in 2010 were: Patrick Gaudio, José Dias “Polenguinho”, José Carlos, Zach Maxwell, Beatriz Mesquita, Ian McPherson, Gunnar Nelson, Ary Farias, Philipe Della Monica and Ricardo Abreu “Demente”.

** Those from 2011 were: Marcio André, Denílson Bischiliari, Christian Broadnax, Mackenzie Dern, Marcelo Tarso, Mateus Luckmann, Lucas Rocha, Michel Langhi, João Gabriel Rocha and Antonio Carlos “Cara de Sapato”.

So without further ado, our…



Carol isn’t quite a revelation, but she is a great one to gamble on after all those years dedicated to the Lebre family mission. The Gracie Humaitá brown belt is one of the favorites to take gold at lightweight. We’re banking on a highly technical showdown between Carol and featherweight Mackenzie Dern in the absolute.


With such an ample array of promising athletes, the blue belt division is a jungle. The heavyweight Max Gimenis of GFTeam, however, looks good to brave the wild and come out in one piece. Maybe even with two golds, since current absolute world champ Rodolfo Vieira’s money is riding on him.


The blue belt world champion in 2011, the Atos lightweight is now gearing up for gold at purple. From the same academy and worth a wager, at brown belt: Ralph Go at lightweight and Ronaldo Cândido at light featherweight, and first lady Angélica Galvão, who’s recovered from an injured arm and is raring to go in the brown belt female division and make her hubby, André Galvão, proud.


A brown belt from Gracie Barra, he’s one of the sternest obstacles in the path of another ultraheavyweight divisional talent, the always exciting Wilbur Leonard of Lloyd Irvin academy. Orlando is riding the wake of his gold medal-winning campaign at the Brazilian National Championship earlier this May.


The Godói Jiu-Jitsu brown belt snapped up two medals at the last Worlds, at weight and absolute. He’ll be fighting to defend his roost again this year.


Having racked up quite a collection of medals at the Pans, Benny is one of the brown belts with a future signed up for this Worlds. Watch out for the middleweight Ralph Gracie understudy.


Team Alliance’s Rodrigo da Conceição Barbosa, otherwise known as Aquiles, will surely be the athlete with the winningest smile at the 2012 World Championship. His opponents in the brown belt lightweight division won’t be all too smiley, though.


Representing Alliance NYC, Ecuador’s “Sinistro” Iturralde will be making his maiden incursion into the Worlds as a brown belt. Keep an eye peeled for his terror-wreaking guard.


A brown belt with a knack for finishing, Renato Cardoso is one of the middleweights with the biggest buzz about him, following his romp through the absolute division at the Pan. Besides the CheckMat Santos beast, other solid names at brown are Felipe Pena of GB BH and João Gabriel Rocha of Soul Fighters in Rio, familiar faces to GRACIEMAG.com readers.


How can anyone keep João and Paulo Miyao apart, even if just in a poll? The Cicero Costha-trained siblings are signed up in the light featherweight purple belt division. Keep an eye on them to learn a thing or two about sweeps and fearlessness—since the slight-framed pair are likely to try their hand in the absolute.

What about you, who’s flying into this Jiu-Jitsu World Championship under the radar? Share your picks.

And take this opportunity to check the endless list of aces already signed up for the 2012 Worlds, by clicking here.

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There are 46 comments for this article
  1. Greg snider at 7:04 pm

    What Keenan Cornelius isn’t on this list!!!?!!??!? Wow however wrote this must not know about him. Try searching Keenan Cornelius vs Joao Miyao on YouTube and you will see why this article is flawed by not having his name in the number one spot.

  2. zegrapplez at 11:59 am

    Where in the world is Keenan Cornelius?
    you can’t tell me whoever knows these people’s names on this list doesn’t know Keenan’s name?

    the guy armbarred one of the Miyao’s from his favorite position in less than a minute.

  3. Angelfire529 at 12:42 pm

    You for got Keenan Cornelius. He submitted Joao Miyao at Pan Ams in 48 secs. Beat Michael Liera Jr via submission at the NY Open to go to WJJP. My money’s on him.

  4. Caleb at 1:11 pm

    Luan Carvalho my buddy from Nova Uniao Macae Brown Belt Feather, he’ll be on the podium. Danielle Alvarez Blue Belt Feather, Cooper Cardinale Blue Belt Middle . Cristina Shepler White Light Feather

  5. Kcallos62 at 4:48 pm

    I think Marcos Torregrosa (a coach of Keenan’s when he was just beginning) said it best. The writer of this “10” list has a bias to be sure. MICHAEL LIERA JR. is truly an amazing athlete, but he has simply not had the year that Keenan Cornelius has had, and for that alone – no matter what happens next week – Keenan Cornelius should have been on the list. My bet is on Cornelius – all the way.

  6. bjjgrip at 10:43 pm

    That is not the point of the article, if they are purple, brown, white, etc. It’s about people to watch out for Jsmithbjj. They all could move up in essence. Keenan is noteworthy. Very noteworthy.

    • loveforBJJ at 5:21 pm

      Ranked #1 by far on the list…actually has the most points of anyone on the rankings in any division. Does seem strange that he would not make the list….

  7. Frank "The Crank" Camacho at 2:56 pm

    Uhh come on bro! No KEENAN “COBRA” CORNELIUS?!?!? You must be CRAZY! No big deal… He just submitted Joao Miyao at Pan Ams in 48 secs, who is ranked #1 on this list. Ok! No big deal.. Let me see what hes done.

    Europeans – DOUBLE GOLD (Medio & Absolute)
    Pan Ams – DOUBLE GOLD (Medio & Absolute)
    Brazilian Nationals – DOUBLE GOLD (Medio & Absolute)
    Abu Dhabi – GOLD (Weight Class)


  8. bjjgrip at 7:31 am

    What about Andris Brunovskis and DJ Jackson brown belts? DJ was DQ but was winning against against a top black belt, if I remember correctly. Please watch the match and tell me what you think, Abu Dhabi trials? Brunovskis narrow loses against another top brown belt.

  9. bjjgrip at 7:45 am

    Ary Farias is back in black with something to show. Bruno “Mr. Consistent” Malfacine just knows how to win without question.

  10. Pingback: 10 champions promising to shine at BJJ Worlds! - Sherdog Mixed Martial Arts Forums
    • Kcallos62 at 2:04 pm

      Really? …and so many people have said Keenan should be a brown belt with him having only accrued international wins – at purple – this last season and fighting hard to get them. (i.e. some tough fights and very close scores).

  11. Dr at 3:56 pm

    Keenan Cornelius deserves to be on this list. It’s just that simple.

    I would prefer not to assume foul play on this one…so has anyone heard a good reason why he hasn’t been added to the list as of yet?

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