The registration period for the 2014 World Jiu-Jitsu championship is now closed.
There are 345 male black belts competing and 49 female black belts registered, adding to an overall total of 394 black belts.
The most crowded black belt division is the male middleweight, with 67 athletes.
A quick look into the divisions is enough to predict amazing battles in the Long Beach Pyramid.
With 18 competitors, the male black belt roosterweight features favorites Caio Terra and Bruno Malfacine and a little spice in the form of João Miyao, in his first Worlds as a black belt. There’s also strong contenders such as Fabio Passos, Milton Bastos, João Pedro Somália, Koji Shibamoto and Ivaniel Cavalcante.
In the lightfeather division, which gathers 32 athletes, Gui Mendes is going for his forth title in six years. This time, the biggest threat should be Paulo Miyao, also debuting as a black belt in the Worlds. Rafael “Barata” Freitas, Bernardo Pitel, last year’s champion Gabriel Moraes, Carlos Holanda, Samir Chantre and the Japanese battalion also make this one of the hardest light-feather divisions of all times.
Since 2009, they meet at this time of the year in the featherweight division of the Worlds. Rafael Mendes and Rubens Cobrinha, holders of seven titles, are once again in collision course in a bracket that adds up to 45 athletes. Last year’s champion, Augusto Tanquinho, kept his promise and did not register to dedicate to MMA. Nevertheless, two-time champion Mario Reis, debuting black belt Gianni Grippo and always dangerous Osvaldo Moizinho, Theodoro Canal, Denilson Pimenta and Leonardo Saggioro can easily create a lot of trouble for the favorites.
Leandro Lo climbed one weight division and will be competing as a middleweight in 2014. With that, the lightweight is another bracket lacking the 2013 champion. The truth is that it does not matter a bit once there are other 56 beasts hungry for gold. Michael Langhi, Lucas Lepri, JT Torres, Roberto Satoshi, Francisco Iturralde, Rodrigo Caporal, Philipe Della Monica and AJ Agazarm are all a guarantee that thrills will be abundant in the bracket. If all that was not enough, three-time world champion Celso Venícius decided to interrupt his BJJ retirement (he’s been more than active in MMA) and jump in once again.
With 67 athletes, the male black belt middleweight is an universe by itself. The sitting two-time champion Otavio Sousa will have to work the hardest he ever worked to keep his post. Completely adapted to the new weight, Leandro Lo wants his third gold medal in a row (he won in 2012 and 2013 as a lightweight). Claudio Calasans Jr, Lucas Leite, Victor Estima, Vitor Oliveira, Clark Gracie and Marcelo Mafra are the usual suspects to threat the two favorites.
Romulo Barral almost gave up competing in 2011, but changed his mind and came back stronger than ever. The 2013 champion is after his fifth title overall and third in a row in the Worlds. To get to that, Barral will have to fight through a jungle of 45 competitors in the medium-heavyweight division. GB’s teammate Braulio Estima is his ally for another close out, just like in 2013. Guto Campos, Keenan Cornelius, Murilo Santana and Renato Cardoso will do their best to prevent that from happening again.
The heavyweight division is liberated. After three years of complete domination, Rodolfo Vieira decided to go to super-heavy, an strategy to have more pressure against Marcus Buchecha in a possible face off in the open class division. Relieved, the 36 competitors will go at each other to see who comes out on top in the end. Andre Galvão stands out as a possible favorite, but is closely followed by strong names such as Rafael Lovato Jr, Jackson Sousa, Yuri Simões, Tarsis Humphreys, Luiz Panza, Tarcisio Jardim, Felipe Pena and Roberto Alencar.
The superheavy division has 18 competitors and Rodolfo Vieira. The three-time world champion (not counting the 2011 open class gold) is clearly the favorite here, but that doesn’t mean he will have any kind of easy path to the gold. Two-time world champion Bernardo Faria and world champion Leonardo Nogueira are the biggest stones in Rodolfo’s metaphorical shoe (once no one wear shoes in Jiu-Jitsu). Igor Silva, Gustavo Pires, James Puopolo and Lucas Sachs cans also present some kind of trouble for the favorites.
The ultra-heavy division has 27 competitors. Obviously, Marcus Buchecha is the man to be beaten, as he goes for his third title in a row. Rodrigo Cavaca will work hard to be in the final again with his pupil, just like last year. Alex Trans will also work hard to spoil the party and secure a place in the final. Abraham Messina, Ricardo Evangelista, Thiago Gaia and Bruno Bastos are in the mix and hope to be around Sunday, for the quarterfinals.
The division itself is a debutant in the Worlds. With that, Melissa Danforth, Marcela Lawton and Shiho Yaginuma will fight for the glory of becoming the first ever female black belt roosterweight champion.
Absent last year, Leticia Ribeiro is back to the light-feather division aiming for her eighth (that’s right, eighth!) title as a black belt. After her performance in Abu Dhabi, last month, newly-promoted black belt Ariadne Oliveira is Leticia’s big obstacle to reach the impressive mark.
Michelle Nicolini competed and won the medium-heavy division of the 2013 Worlds. This year, she is back to featherweight and should have Mackenzie Dern as her main opponent for the gold medal. Nadia Melo and Pan champion Tammi Musumeci are also in the mix.
The lightweight division should be yet another Bia Mesquita vs. Luiza Monteiro affair. The two could have Fabiana Borges as a party spoiler, but that’s unlikely.
Last year’s champion Luanna Alzuguir, went up to medium-heavy, so the middleweight crown is up for grabs. Vanessa Oliveira, 2013’s runner up wants it, but Janni Larsson, Shanti Abelha and Sophia Drysdale will not make it an easy task for the Brazilian.
The medium-heavy division has all the ingredients to be “the division” of the female black belt in the 2014 Worlds. The plot has it all. Luanna Alzuguir wants her fifth world title in a weight division, now in a heavier category. Hannette Staack is also after her eighth gold medal. To make things even more dramatic, Ana Laura Cordeiro makes her comeback after almost six years away from competitions due to a severe back injury. Who’s gonna take it? I don’t know!
The girls at heavyweight are a happy bunch in 2014. For the first time in a long time, the name Gabrielle Garcia does not appear in the bracket. With the creation of the super-heavy division, the star from Alliance had to leave the heavyweight division. With that, last year’s champion Andressa Correa, Luzia Fernandes, Fernanda Mazzelli, Tammy Grieggo and others will have the chance to compete with real chances to win gold.
The super-heavyweight division should be a warm up for Gabi Garcia to go after her third black belt open class gold medal.
For more info, go to http://ibjjf.org/championship/world-jiu-jitsu-championship/