The 2015 WPJJC had its first day of action with the black belts this Thursday.
The black belt gave all they got on the mats in each division aiming to get the $9,000 prize reserved for each division champion.
Here’s how each division played out.
65Kg – Early upset for Gianni’s benefit
Last year, it was his brother Paulo who suffered an unexpected first round defeat in Abu Dhabi. In 2015, João Miyao tasted that same bitter feeling when one advantage for a near guard pass awarded to Gilson Neto at the last moments of their first round battle cost him the competition . Without one of the favorites to be in the final, the division was up for grabs and Isaque Paiva made all the way to the gold medal match against the other favorite, Gianni Grippo. The final had not much action, but Gianni kept the pressure on top, relenting trying to pass and getting that one advantage enough to pocket the prize. “It feels great to win here. I had some tough matches and I feel I was able to have some good fights here.”
75kg – The long haul
In the most crowded division of the black belt class, many names had what it got to make it to the top. Lucas Lepri, in his 4th appearance at the WPJJC, had to step on the mats 5 times to be able to celebrate the title. In the semifinal, he beat two-time champion Roberto Satoshi 2-0 with one takedown. The final would be against very tough Gabriel Rollo, but Lepri was determined to not let the title slip away from his hands. Very driven, he worked the pass early on the match and near the end took the opportunity to control Rollo’s back to finish with a choke. “He’s a very dangerous opponent and I’m so happy to have been able to get his back and finish. It’s my first tutle here after four appearances,” said Lepri.
85kg – Deja vu
Leandro Lo once again proved how efficient his Jiu-Jitsu can be. Competing in one of the toughest divisions, he managed to repeat his 2014 result. The opponent in the final would again be Victor Estima. The Gracie Barra star had a hard path until the gold medal match. In the quarterfinals, he defeated Claudio Calasans Jr by referee decision and then repeated the feat against Keenan Cornelius in the semifinal, also by ref decision. The final match was very strategic with Lo on top most of the time trying to pass and Estima working his guard and trying to get a hold of Lo’s feet for one of his famous Estima locks. In the end, a 3-1 lead on advantages was enough for Lo to secure another title and add 9K to his purse.
95kg – Rodolfo’s heirs
When Rodolfo Vieira showed up for the weigh-ins one day before the competition, he already said that lower back pains would most likely prevent him from competing in the open class division. In the end, the damage was even bigger, with Vieira not being able to compete for his sixth weigh division title in Abu Dhabi. Without the biggest favorite, the division was an open field for any takers. Felipe Pena thanked the easier path to the final and put his Jiu-Jitsu to work. The semifinal against Luiz Panza was an all out war of foot locks and sweeps and Pena won 4-2, but before that he had to beat Erberth Santos (7-2) and finish Felipe Dias with a guillotine. The final would be against Jackson Sousa, responsible for taking local star Faisal Al Ketbi out of the competition with a 2-0 win with a takedown. The gold medal match started out even, but soon Pena imposed his game and swept twice before taking Sousa’s back to score 8-2 and grab the prize.
+95kg – Buchecha still the man
He’s always expected to do great and put a show for the crowd. Marcus Buchecha was not brillant this time, but once again competed with the intensity he’s known for and won once again. In the semifinal, he caught Ricardo Evangelista with a guillotine to meet regular rival Alex Trans in the final, just like last year. The match was dangerous for Buchecha, who scored a takedown early on and stayed on top for the rest of the time. Trans almost got a sweep at the end, but Buchecha fought back to stay on top and win.
Gabi beats the jet lag and other stories
Flying into Abu Dhabi was Gabi Garcia’s toughest battle on her quest for another gold medal at the WPJJC. “I didn’t fight the way I usually do. I felt very tired all the time,” said the champion. The problem was the cancelation of the flight who would bring most of the athletes coming from Brazil. With the 24 hours delay, they got in only on the night before competition. In the +75kg division, Gabi had three matches. She first beat Maria Malyjasiak (8-0), then caught Alison Tremblay with a kimura. In the final, she battled Vanessa Nascimento for six minutes to win with a 4-0 lead on advantages.
In the other female finals, Bia Mesquita scared away the surprising Jessica Cristina with an armlock to win the 65kg divison; Monique Elias played guard to stop Ana Laura Cordeiro and win the 75kg division by unanimous referees decision; Mackenzie Dern got back at her biggest rival Michelle Nicolini and won 2-0 with a sweep to conquer the 55kg division.
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Here is a photo gallery with some of the best images of the finals.