At 23 years old, Nicholas Meregali, a student under Mario Reis at Alliance, had no easy time at the Worlds. It was his rookie year as a black-belt, after he had won all there was to win at purple and brown. There was immense pressure on him: Would he actually transition into a winner when it were time to take on the elite?
In his weight class, middleweight, there were sharks like Lucas Leite, Jackson Sousa, Adam Wardzinski, Dimitrius Souza, Matheus Diniz, Eduardo Inojosa, Tanner Rice and, oh, Leandro Lo. Meregali dived right in and put up his complex guard.
Meregali beat Helton Junior first, then was pitted against world champion Lucas Leite and finished him via bow-and-arrow choke. The boy from southern Brazil was now among the favorites.
In a semifinal, a triangle on Dimitrius Souza gave him the ticket to the final against Leandro Lo, who had last lost a fight in an IBJJF competition in 2015, in that Worlds’ absolute final against Bernardo Faria.
Meregali pulled off a sweep that took the audience’s breath away, and then used elastic guard skills to contain each of Lo’s crazy attacks and hold the score. He was the new heavyweight world champion.
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