Get to know 10 athletes who will make a difference at the 2013 Worlds

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The 2013 World Championship is around the corner and while we wait for the brackets and schedule to be released, we can study the list of registered athletes in the meantime. Scanning the categories of people who will be stepping on the mats of the Long Beach Walter Pyramid May 29 – June 2, there are some who have become promising.

From blue to brown, here are ten people who we feel can put up a good fight in their respective divisions:

Hiago Gama Sousa – Blue Light-Feather

Hiago at European Open taking the back

From Alliance, Hiago was born in Vitoria da Conquista, the same town of Rodrigo Minotauro, and has won the European Championship, Pan American Championship and the Brazilian Nationals this year. The twenty-one year old has 87 other competitors in his division but was able to come out on top in his 72-man division at Pan Ams so we think he has a great chance of hitting the grand slam.

Ram Ananda – Purple Light-Feather

Ram Ananda after winning the 2013 Pan Ams

A member of Alliance under Rubens Cobrinha Charles, Ram Ananda is a dual competitor and champion. Last year he won the gold at the Worlds as an adult blue belt then earned another world title as a purple belt at the Worlds Masters and Seniors. This year he accomplished the gold in the adult category at the Pan Americans as well. Ram’s consistency will help him reach the podium this year at the Worlds.

Ostap Manastryski – Purple Light-Feather

Ostap attacking from the back at the 2013 Pan Ams

Ostap is a Ukrainian-Canadian purple belt from Open Mat MMA in Toronto, Canada. He won his light-feather division this year at the Europeans and placed second at the Pan American Championship. Last year he had a good run at the Worlds winning bronze before being stopped by Joao Miyao. An avid competitor at the largest tournaments, we believe he will be among the top in his division.

Rehan Muttalib – Purple Middle

Rehan taking the back at the 2013 Pan American Championship

In his first year at purple belt, Rehan of Cobrinha BJJ has not only competed a ton but also reached the podium at nearly every championship he has entered. Most notably he won the European Championship with a silver in the open weight division and then placed second at the Pan American Championship. He won double gold at the New York Open, and silver at both the Dallas Open and Las Vegas Open so we think he has created a good momentum for the Worlds.

Rafael Henrique Pereira – Brown Light

Rafael at the 2013 Pan American Championship

At his first year at brown belt, Rafael Henrique Pereira has secured two gold at two solid tournaments, the Pan American Championship and Brazilian Nationals respectively. The Gracie Elite Team member who comes from Gordo Jiu-Jitsu in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil also won the Brazilian Nationals last year as a purple belt and placed second at the Pan ams in 2012 as well. His run so far at brown belt is promising enough for us to bet he will podium at the Worlds this year.

Felipe Cesar Silva – Brown Middle

Felipe with a single leg at the 2013 Pan American Championship

This Barbosa JJ competitor has been a brown belt for less than two months but we already believe he has a chance to get to the Worlds podium. After winning the purple belt middle division and placing second in the open division at Pan Ams in March, Felipe Cesar Silva was promoted to brown belt and went on to win the brown belt middle division at Brazilian Nationals in April. Accustomed well to his new belt already, we see no problem in expecting a good performance from him at the Worlds.

Natasha Quiza – Blue Medium-Heavy

Natasha Quiza passing the guard at the 2013 Pan American Championship

This Fight Sports blue belt under Robert “Cyborg” Abreu just won her Pan Ams division and placed third in the open weight. As a solid blue belt for some time now she has placed at the Worlds and she won Brazilian Nationals last year. She does well in both division and open weight so medaling at the Worlds this year is expected for Natasha.

AaRae Alexander – Purple Light

AaRae Alexander preparing in the bullpen

At her first year at purple belt, AaRae Alexander is off to a great start by winning the Pan Ams. At the 2012 Worlds she secured gold in the blue belt featherweight division and despite priorities like going off to college, she has managed to keep her competitive edge at a high level. The Team Lloyd Irvin young member has been competing since she was a kid earning four golds at Worlds as a juvenile blue belt in 2009 and 2010. Since she knows how to win a world title or two already, we think she can manage another at this new belt.

Nathalia Azoff – Brown Middle

Nathalia Azoff submitting at the 2013 Pan American Championship

Nathalia is a member of Brazilian Top Team Boston and has had a great year so far winning Pan Ams and the Boston Open in the brown belt middleweight division. As an international competitor she has placed at the top tournaments such as Europeans and even Worlds as a purple belt. Last year she took silver but this year we think she can do the same or better.

Dominyka Obelenyte – Brown Medium-Heavy

Dominyka Obelenyte working a triangle at the 2013 Pan American Championship

Dominyka Obelenyte is a Marcelo Garcia brown belt but has only been wearing said belt for about three weeks. At only 17, she is the youngest brown belt in her division but her accomplishments prove her worth. In 2011 at the age of fifteen she won the purple belt adult absolute division at the Worlds and placed second in the middleweight division. She also just won the purple absolute division at Pan Ams winning silver in her weight. Although a fresh brown belt, her talent and resume are enough to prove her capable of winning at this year’s Worlds.

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