Worlds: Keenan Cornelius’s dramatic semifinal loss analyzed

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Keenan following his semifinal match. IBJJF

Last weekend at the IBJJF Worlds, the semifinal round of the men’s heavyweight division saw a last-second move bring the bitter taste of defeat to the American Keenan Cornelius of Atos. In a very competitive duel with Patrick Gáudio (GFTeam) that Keenan was leading on advantages with a 4-4 score on points, Keenan had his foot attacked by Gáudio. With the whistle then coming from the judges’ desk, the referee ended the match and gave Gáudio the game-tying advantage. Then Gáudio took the decision win.

People had plenty to say about the match on social media. Some claimed that Gáudio deserved the win, achieved right at the end with lots of heart and an unwillingness to give up. Keenan’s supporters stressed that he took the back and should have been given another advantage after the whistle, due to landing on top at the end of Gáudio’s attack.

To better understand the situation, Graciemag contacted Master Julio Cesar Pereira, leader of GFTeam, and André Galvão, leader of Atos.

“Patrick’s fights are always  very exciting,” Julio told us. “Keenan is a great opponent and very hard to fight against, but Patrick was more explosive at the end of the fight and got an advantage. He had more game volume for most of the fight and fought for the win until the last second. The will to win was certainly a differential.”

Galvão said he saw a detail that went unnoticed. “First of all,” he told us, “I don’t wanna cause any drama here, because I know how much each athlete dedicates himself to become world champion. Patrick and Keenan, just like all athletes that fought there, gave 100% both in training and in the championship, and I congratulate them. However, from my understanding of the rules, I think Keenan was harmed. He should have won an advantage at the end of the fight also, as he ended up on top in a sweep attempt while Patrick was attacking his foot at the last seconds.”

“Patrick’s advantage for the foot attack was valid,” he added, “but Keenan didn’t get the advantage for coming up in the sweep attempt. It was supposed to be one advantage each at the end. I saw the fight video afterwards, and clearly Keenan came up before the time was up. He should have won the advantage for ending up on top.”

Galvão continued, supporting his point: “The same thing happened in the final of the same division, between Patrick and Felipe Preguiça, where Patrick goes for the foot landing on the bottom, with Preguiça coming up. In the end, the judges gave an advantage each. It was exactly the same, but the advantage given to Preguiça wouldn’t change the result, because he was in front — Patrick had an extra penalty. Now in Keenan’s fight, it would have changed everything, because it wouldn’t be a tie, and Keenan would win by one advantage.

“Even with the tie, I think my student won. I don’t say this because I’m his teacher; I speak with complete sincerity. Not to take away the merit of Patrick Gáudio, who defended the back at the end and even swept and went for the foot — it was awesome. But in total, analyzing the fight in its entirety, Keenan had more control. I think he would win, in my view.”

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