The 12 biggest absolute IBJJF world champions (part 2)

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8. Bernardo Faria (2015)

A dreaded guard passer and the owner of one of Jiu-Jitsu’s most complicated half-guards, this Juiz de Fora native is famous for always betting on the same game — putting a lot of pressure on his rivals. This black belt shaped by BTT in Juiz de Fora and adopted by Alliance triumphed in the absolute in 2015, in an almost perfect campaign in which he forced the star Leandro Lo to tap in an inescapable armlock.

8. Fernando “Margarida” Pontes (2001)

A black belt from Sao Paulo, owner of an unpredictable and offensive game, Fernando Margarida became famous in Jiu-Jitsu for finishing and penetrating the best defenses in the sport. Young and endowed with a skillful guard and creative passes, he won his biggest career title in the absolute in 2001, beating Saulo Ribeiro in the final. The Sao Paulo native was the first to win his division (light heavyweight) and the absolute in the same World Championship.

8. José Mario Sperry (1998)

An economist and amateur pilot, the now-businessman Zé Mario Sperry claimed the absolute title in 1998 after an epic battle with Roberto Roleta. Strong on his feet and a bulldozer when passing guard on the ground, Sperry proved to be one of Carlson Gracie Team’s sharpest claws that year — his rival, Roleta, had part of his gi ripped, given the immense strength of Sperry’s grip. Sperry would go on to gain even more fame worldwide in the no-gi tournaments in Abu Dhabi and Japan’s Pride FC.

8. Leandro Lo (2018)

A world champion at light, middle and medium heavyweight, the five-time world champion Leandro Lo is unanimous. With his loose and unpredictable gameplay, with remarkable skills passing and playing guard, Leandro is a favorite in any tournament he enters, regardless of weight or opponents. The only title missing in his career, the absolute, seemed unreachable. The climb in divisions was influenced by the dream to win the absolute title, leading him to compete as a super-heavyweight in 2018. In the final, however, he faced Mahamed Aly and injured his shoulder after a scary fall. With one title off the table, Leandro headed to the absolute final, his spot guaranteed earlier that day, to face Marcus Buchecha. Injured, Leandro could not fight and Buchecha would have another title. Before stepping on the mat, however, Buchecha told the referee, Rodrigo Totti, “Raise his hand.” The rest is history.

8. Rodolfo Vieira (2011)

A prodigy of GFTeam in Méier, Rio de Janeiro, the young “steamroller” shaped by Professor Julio Cesar Pereira took the art of kneading to a new level. With logs for arms and a strong standing base that could thwart the almost inevitable sweeps of his rival Bê Faria, Rodolfo finished just about everyone in the 2010s. He achieved his absolute dream in 2011 in style after a final against Bernardo. Today he has a strong UFC career, using his Jiu-Jitsu in MMA.

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