First we asked the questions and last weekend the best Jiu-Jitsu fighters in the world answered them, one by one.
That’s why we come back to the questions and try to put in words what we saw at the Long Beach Pyramid.
Here we go.
1. Will Buchecha be the first athlete ever to win three black belt open class finals in a row?
Yes. Marcus Buchecha made history this Sunday, June 1st. Since 1996, no other athlete was able to win three open class gold medals in consecutive years. Still at the beginning of his career, Buchecha seems destined to set unthinkable records. Let’s see how far he can go with his pressure, speed and unpredictable technical skills.
2. Can a heavier Rodolfo finally put a stop to Buchecha’s reign?
No. The sixth battle between the two was yet another chapter of Buchecha’s dominance. Since 2011, when Rodolfo managed an armlock submission, the count is 1-5 against him. Vieira’s career has two sides. The first one is his bright side, where he controls and imposes his game over all his opponents. The other side is how he seems unable to do that when the opponent is Buchecha. If he can find a way to solve that puzzle, things will look better for him.
3. Can anyone prevent an absolute final between Rodolfo and Buchecha?
No. Buchecha and Rodolfo are many steps ahead of the rest of the pack. In Long Beach, Vieira finished all his opponents up to the open class final, eight matches all-together. Buchecha didn’t get all the submissions he could, but also had an impressive showing, never being in any actual risk. Unless something changes or someone appear (Roger, maybe?), the landscape should remain untouched for some time.
4. Will Atos JJ repeat its performance of the 2014 Pan and snatch the adult male teams title?
No. Well, Atos JJ had a great performance. The team went head to head with Alliance up to the final stretch and ended up with second place by only six points (or one gold medal instead of a silver medal). Never in history, the Alliance crowd rooted so much for a GB athlete than when Felipe Preguiça was fighting André Galvão in the heavyweight division final. Preguiça’s win was Alliance’s triumph, as a matter of speaking.
5. Can any other black belt step up and be a real threat to Gabi Garcia in the open class?
No answer. The great Gabi Garcia was not there to be challenged by anyone. A rib injury made the two-time open class champion sit out in 2014. Even so, the female black belt division was one of the most thrilling of recent times. Bia finally got the double gold she wanted so much, Nicolini was fierce, Tammi was fearless, Janni amazed all with her happiness after the win and Ana Laura made us cry with her victorious comeback.
6. Will the Miyaos have success in their first Worlds as black belts?
Yes and no. Yes, because both brothers got to their division finals. No, because they didn’t win. João and Paulo stopped only at the hands of Malfacine and Gui Mendes, respectively. Young as they are and relentless as only the two can be, are there any doubts that those gold medals will eventually rest on the brothers’ chests?
7. Will Cobrinha win his fifth title in the featherweight or is Rafael Mendes going to tie the score in 4 – 4?
Rafael Mendes scared away last year’s ghost. The last-minute defeat to Augusto Tanquinho prevented him from reaching the magic number of four world titles in the featherweight division, something only Royler Gracie and Rubens Cobrinha had. Next year, if the IBJJF holds another Hall of Fame event, Rafa (and his brother Gui) will have earned their seats.
8. Are we going to see a non-Brazilian win an adult male black belt division for the third time in history?
No. Jonathan Torres and Alex Trans were the ones that came the closest with the second places at the lightweight and ultra-heavyweight divisions, followed by Keenan Cornelius with his bronze medal in the open class. Truth of the matter, it is not that important where the champions come from. Jiu-Jitsu is an international sport already and nothing can change that. Besides that, non-Brazilians had an amazing showing in many different divisions all over the board.
9. How will fighters adapt to the updated rules?
They adapted well. Not that many had problems with the double guard pull stalling, the single leg defense or leg crossing. The most high profile case was Kennan Cornelius’, which was disqualified for knee reaping in the medium-heavy division. Besides that, the refs were on top of the updates rules most of the time.
10. Who’s gonna be next big thing in Jiu-Jitsu?
In the male division, many athletes come to mind. Brown belt open class and superheavy champion Erberth Santos is a name to be carefully looked at. Marcio Andre is now a black belt, after winning the brown belt featherweight division. Tim Spriggs follows his path of putting a show for the crowd while collecting medals. Now a brown belt after winning the purple belt open class, Edwin Najmi is building up to be one of the most exciting fighters of his generation. Among the ladies, Monique Elias swept the brown belt division and got her black belt on the podium. For sure she will create trouble in the new rank in the years to come.