The ADCC continues to invite athletes to fill the spots of its five male and two female categories for the October 19-20 event in Beijing, China. Many athletes have come forward to show interest in earning such an invitation to the prestigious event and some have even succeeded in their endeavors. Names such as Jonathan JT Torres, Lucas Leite, Justin Rader, Hannette Staack (although she gave way for Ida Hansson instead).
Already on the list are the current champions, trial winners, legends, UFC fighters and more. Some participants in the mix are not black belts such as Darson Hemmings, Keenan Cornelius, Garry Tonon to name a few who won the trials. Laura Hondorp is even a purple belt but that isn’t a new sight considering Hillary Williams was invited as a purple belt in 2009 and placed third in the 60 kg division. As far as invitations, Marcio Andre placed second at the Brazil trial and was given a shot as a brown belt anyway.
Another active and hungry brown belt competitor who believes he deserves an invitation is Gianni Grippo, a brown belt under Marcelo Garcia in New York City. A six-time world champion, two of them in no-gi, the 21-year-old feels he has what it takes to put up a fight in the ADCC 66 kg division. He spoke with GRACIEMAG about his expectations, accomplishments and hopes of earning an invitation to the 2013 ADCC:
GRACIEMAG: ADCC invites those who they believe have enough skill to make it to the final. What division would you be asking to enter and based on who is in that division already, what makes you believe that you can go all the way?
GIANNI GRIPPO: If I were to be invited to ADCC I’d be looking to compete in the -66kg weight class. I believe that I can go all the way in this weight class because I believe in my game and in my desire to win. I train and drill constantly for events and opportunities like these and I know I wouldn’t pass this opportunity up. Whatever I go into I always give my 100%.
Have you been in ADCC before? What were your results? What has changed since the last time you were there?
I have not been to ADCC before nor have I done the trials in the past. I was always unable to because another goal of mine this year was to win the IBJJF World championships, and add that along with still dealing with school, the dates of the trials in the United States never matched up well for me. So if I do get the opportunity to compete, it will be my first go-around.
If they had an invite for you but in a weight class different than what you normally fight, would you still accept?
Of course, since I was a kid I dreamed of myself competing at the ADCC. In 2007 I went to watch the ADCC with my dad when it was in New Jersey and it was the greatest showcase of grappling I had ever seen! From that point on I knew I wanted to be a part of that event someday and prove myself as one of the best against the best in the world.
What accomplishments in no-gi do you have that could prove your skill?
Although I haven’t been to ADCC yet, my no-gi results have been pretty solid so far. I have medaled at every No-Gi World Championship I have entered and have won in both 2007 and 2010. Also I have been to the No-Gi Pan American Championship every year since the IBJJF started it in New York in 2008 and only once in its 5 year history did I not see gold. In 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2012 I took gold while in 2011 I took silver.
If you chose the qualifications for an ADCC invite, what do you think would be necessary for all participants?
What I believe are good qualifications for this event is someone that is well-rounded both on the mats and off. On the mat, I believe that it is important that the competitor is able to possess an exciting, attacking style while off the mat they must be a good ambassador of the sport upholding the event’s name with a positive and humble attitude. I never believe that there is the need for bad mouthers or disrespectful competitors in such an upscale event. Also having good credentials with numerous big wins under your belt should be taken into consideration as well, certainly.
The committee also looks into those who have backgrounds in other martial art disciplines. Are you working on or do you have experience in other fields like Judo, Wrestling, Sambo, etc?
Besides training Jiu-Jitsu for ten years, I also trained in wrestling as cross-training for numerous years. If it weren’t for Jiu-Jitsu I would have been pursuing the sport of wrestling today.
They also believe that having people from different nationalities allows for better development of the sport around the world. What other nationalities besides American do you represent?
Besides being American, I can also represent the Italian, German and Irish nationalities.