2013 Worlds: Gabriel Moraes’ persistence at light featherweight

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Gabriel Moraes (in white) is the light featherweight world champion of 2013. Photo: Ivan Trindade.

Veteran black belt competitor Gabriel Moraes hadn’t won at the BJJ Worlds since 2004. With his 2013 title, he is now the black belt with the furthest apart gold medals in history. (Gabriel Vella had the old record with wins in 2002 and 2009.) However, it was not through this hiatus that the CheckMat fighter proved his persistence. In his fights at the Worlds last weekend, he would never give up until he heard the whistle. On Sunday, Gabriel had to hack away until the very end to sweep Gabriel Willcox and beat him, 6-4.

In the semifinal he came across Daniel Beleza, who had knocked out Gui Mendes in a decision. Once again, victory came only with the last move, and he wasn’t even sure until he left the fighting area. “All I know is I was losing and then I kept pressing and pressing–I have no idea how I won or how I got the advantages,” he smiled.

Ary Farias’ drama

In the final, Gabriel did all he could to stop 2010 champ Ary Farias from scoring. Ary went to the back, Gabriel defended. Ary tried to catch a limb, Gabriel freed himself. And the fight went on tied with no points, Ary leading in advantages. The whistle blew and Ary was the champion for the next couple of seconds. That was when his emotions betrayed him and he took his two fateful steps toward the podium. The rule, although new, is very clear: The athlete that leaves the fighting area to celebrate will be punished with one advantage being given to their opponent.

Referee Muzio de Angelis had no choice but to grant Gabriel an advantage, thus changing the score to a draw in advantages, except Gabriel had one less penalty and had just become the world champion.

Devastated with the turn of events, Ary said of the lost title, “I fight five times against those lions, beat the toughest men in the division, and then this happens.”

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