Rising Stars: Our Bets on Who Will Build Their Name in 2013

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Sport Jiu-Jitsu made strides in 2012 as more tournaments were run, more talent was exposed and new techniques were proven. From Keenan Cornelius to Miyao brothers and berimbolos to cash prizes and submission-only, it was a big year.

As 2013 closes in, we know that in its future lies even more evolution. We know that top names will continue to push the pace but it’s the rising talent that will make sure it doesn’t stop.

Here are some top people whom GRACIEMAG.com believes will be solidifying their name in 2013:

Dante Leon

A juvenile blue belt, Dante has two world titles in his age division, three Pan American titles and numerous other accolades. Most notable are his wins in the adult division which first happened shortly after he turned 15. He has defeated many larger adult opponents in the open weight divisions, some with a 70 pound advantage over this juvenile middle weight. He turns 18 in 2013 so we can’t wait to see how the Ribeiro Jiu-Jitsu representative does in the adult divisions at Pan Ams and Worlds.

Chad Shaule

A Canadian star at blue belt, he traveled to California three times in 2012 for 3rd at Worlds, 2nd at Pan Ams and double gold at the IBJJF Long Beach Spring Open. Just recently promoted to purple belt, this Gracie Barra team member already won double gold at his first major Canadian tournament as seen in the highlight below. We believe Chad will improve tremendously in the next year and prove his place in the purple belt medium heavy division.

Edwin Najmi

Edwin is known as Romulo Barral’s prodigy as well as a submission addict. Most of his wins from white to purple have been by triangles and ankle locks as seen in the highlight below. Since the beginning he has competed as much as possible, often 14 times a year with some being two in one weekend. In 2012 he won his division at Pan Ams as well as the Abu Dhabi Trials weight and absolute and a grip of others, as he has rarely missed the podium. Most recently he took first place at the American Nationals in September avenging losses to both Isaac Doederlein and Jacob Sandoval in the process.

Isaac Doederlein

Isaac began his journey in the juvenile divisions alongside the likes of Francisco “Sinistro” Iturraldo, Nicholas Schultz and Gianni Grippo winning two world titles back-to-back. In 2009 he won his blue belt juvenile division then in 2010 he won his blue belt adult division. Since then he has won major tournaments going up the ranks including the Abu Dhabi Trials weight division beating Ronaldo Candido, now a new black belt under the Atos banner. At the end of 2011 he moved from his home state of Arizona to Los Angeles to train under Rubens “Cobrinha” Charles Maciel where he has been slowly building his skill for the past year, anticipating what we believe will be his time in 2013.

Nicholas Schultz

Part of Team Lloyd Irvin, Nick has come up in the ranks from juvenile divisions much like others mentioned. Medaling at nearly every major tournament, he was stopped twice at the Worlds in 2011 and 2012 by the Miyao brothers as he placed third although he earned gold at the 2011 Pan Ams. While the Miyao brothers have since departed the realm of purple belt, we believe Nick will take over the throne in 2013.


Janni Larsson

Janni is a recently promoted brown belt from Sweden who made her mark this year winning Europeans weight and absolute and then Worlds weight and absolute. She lives, studies and trains in Denmark under the Checkmat team and spends half of her time studying medicine. She is currently training in Brazil and plans to attend the same major tournaments in 2013 where we believe she will have similar results.

Jordan Che Landry

Once considered Caio Terra’s prodigy, Jordan too went up in the ranks by starting on the podiums in juvenile divisions. He had major wins from the start as a 2010 juvenile blue blet World champion. He won Pan Ams at purple in 2011 however tore his LCL at Worlds a few months later and was forced to take the time to recover. He came back this year and won the Worlds, redeeming himself in the purple belt division. He was recently promoted to brown belt and we think the Gracie Fighter will be a force in the rooster weight division next year.

Stephen Martin

This past year Stephen Martin came back on the map since his 2007 blue belt juvenile gold at Worlds. He has placed in nearly every World Championship since then, however he was able to claim gold in 2012 where he beat Jordon Schultz and Ralph Go at the Europeans in January. He placed second at the Pan Ams and third at the Worlds and we believe this UK-based brown belt will serve his Gracie Barra team and the Estima brothers well in 2013.

Tanner Rice

Tanner Rice is a 19-year-old black belt who was recently promoted by Rubens “Cobrinha” Charles Maciel after beginning tutelage before Worlds in 2011. He trains and teaches at his family’s school, only finding a couple months total time throughout the year to train under Cobrinha in Los Angeles, hundreds of miles away from his Redding, CA home. After closing out the lightweight division at Worlds this year, he won the IBJJF Long Beach Fall Open this month earning himself a spot in the IBJJ Pro League where he defeated Augusto “Tanquinho” Mendes by points as seen in the video below. Not to be considered beginner’s luck, we believe 2013 could hold some more upsets in Tanner’s favor.

Let us know who we missed in the comment section below!

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