Mundials Motivation #11: See how two young stars debut at black belt

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Mackenzie Dern in the absolute against Talita Nogueira at the 2013 Pan American Championship, her first Pan Ams black belt win. Photo: Erin Herle

Getting on with our 18 reasons to follow the 2013 World Championships, there are two athletes that have been doing considerably well in their new rank. To see if they can get to the top of the Worlds podium as they have done in the past at lower belts woud be a sight to see, and motivating at the very least!

Reason #11: See how young black belts Mackenzie Dern and Joao Gabriel Rocha compete where it counts.

Whether or not you have won major titles at the lower ranks, competing at black belt has a level of competition that does not compare. There is nowhere to go once you are a black belt and the competence levels in that realm vary greatly.

Mackenzie Dern, 20

This American/Brazilian has been training her whole life. Mackenzie’s father, the bold Wellington ‘Megaton’ Dias, raised her on the mats from age three and today she is a black belt at the age of 20. Winning the world championship at every belt from 2007 to 2012, this will be her first at the black belt level.

Her first time competing and winning at black belt was at the Copa Podio Heavyweight GP where she fought in a couples duel with her boyfriend Augusto Tanquino Mendes. Then she went on to win her division at the 2013 IBJJF European Open. She placed second at the Pan American Championship and the Abu Dhabi World Pro. Well on her way to becoming the best at black belt, it will be interesting to see how she fares in her first World Championship at this rank and if she will continue her undefeated run.

Joao Gabriel Rocha, 22

Joao Gabriel Rocha is the newest black belt sensation out of team Soul Fighters. He, too, began training Jiu-Jitsu as a toddler and now at 22, Joao has accomplished a trip to the podium at every World Championship so far at each belt. He sealed the Mundials gold two times in 2012 as a brown belt after also winning Pan Ams and Brazilian Nationals that same year.

He received his black belt directly after competing in the Copa Podio Heavyweight GP and winning two matches against black belts. His first big accomplishment with the new belt came in April this year as he defeated the No. 2 black belt in the world, Leonardo Nogueira, in the final of the Brazilian Nationals. His presence in the super-heavy division at the 2013 World Championship will definitely be a threat.

How do you think these two young, dedicated and decorated world champions will fare at their first Mundials?

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