Amid the excitement of UFC on Fox 2, the IBJJF kicked off competition season for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu with the European Championships in Lisbon, Portugal. Considered one of 'the big three' IBJJF events along with the Pan Am Championships and the World Championships, anyone who takes home a gold medal from the European Championship is legitimately a world class grappler.
There has been a divide in the competitive grappling world for some time, between those who believe that there should be cash prizes for competitors and those who do not. Since the IBJJF strives to emulate the Olympic games the athletes do not receive cash prizes, but the heightened visibility provided by the event helps the athlete get sponsorships and students. There are several other grappling organizations that are offering cash prizes and they are beginning to draw top flight talent away from the IBJJF. While this European Championships had plenty of elite competitors, the brackets were not as robust as in the past.
But with that said, there was still plenty of excellent and highly technical action that took place in Lisbon over the weekend. Let us start with a 22-year-old heavyweight black belt phenom, Rodolfo Vieira. Winner of both Heavy and Absolute (Open) weight divisions, Rodolfo is picking up right where he left off in 2011 when he won both the Pan Ams and Worlds. He is still an extremely young man, Rodolfo looks to be the man to challenge Roger Gracie for supremacy in the Heavyweight division.
Lucio "Lagarto" Rodrigueo also double medaled, taking silver in the Super Heavy division and then a bronze in the Absolutes. Fellow Gracie Barra competitor Victor Estima took gold at middleweight. Victor is the brother of Braulio Estima, and this marks his first major gold medal in the gi.
The biggest surprise of the weekend was Roberto Satoshi. A Japanese grappler, Satoshi was a world champion at the blue, purple and brown levels and was competing for first time as a black belt at the Euros. Satoshi shocked onlookers, cutting his way to Lightweight gold. He made a huge statement in his first match when he locked on a flying triangle in under a minute. In the Lightweight final Satoshi defeated Lloyd Irvin student Jonathan Torres on points.
Video after the jump
(Roberto SATOSHI de Souza vs. Pedro Bessa via bjjstylemagazine)
(Roberto Satoshi de Souza X Jonathan Torres via VALDREU23)
Atos Jiu Jitsu continued their domination at Featherweight, which is reaching the point where it might be practical to just rename it Atos-weight. Bruno Frazatoo, an open guard specialists, took gold for Atos, while David Lemes took silver. There is no word if the two teammates actually fought their match or ended it with a hand shake, but either way it was another impressive showing for Atos.
A fun moment in Absolutes, English grappler Oliver Geddes locked on a seldom seen submission. A Roger Gracie black belt, Geddes loves working form top half guard and locked up what is sometimes called a 'dogbar', which is a knee bar from the top, but doesn't use the arms to hyperextend the knee.
(IBJJF European Championship 2012 Black Belt Open Weight: Oli Geddes vs. Marcos de Souza via bjjstylemagazine) skip to 9:15 for submission.
In the women's division, Michelle Nicolini took double gold in medium heavy and the absolute divisions. Nicolini is a fixture in women's BJJ, being a multiple time world champion and this was a classic performance by her. Also at the brown belt level Mackenzie Dern looked like the star prospect many consider her to be, winning Absolute gold. Dern is the daughter of a black belt who took her jiu jitsu classes instead of hiring a baby sitter and many consider her to be the next star in the making for women's BJJ.
Other highlights around the black belt divisions included Clark Gracie getting a bronze medal. Clark is a rising star in the grappling world, training with Kron and Rickson Gracie. Having already won a no gi world championship as a brown belt and notched one trip to ADCCs, Clark is one to watch moving forward.
Also a living legend returned to the mats in Lisbon this last weekend, Saulo Ribeiro. One of the foremost scholars of Jiu Jitsu, Saulo competed in the black belt senior divisions in the Super Heavy and Open weight classes, winning gold in both. Here is a video of Saulo's first match of the day where he locks up a choke from quarter guard, and roles to finish in full guard.
(IBJJF European Championship 2012: Saulo Ribeiro first match via bjjstylemagazine)
The lower belt divisions were full of excellent up and comers. Llyod Irvin purple belt Keenan Cornelius won both Middleweight weight and won the Absolute final against fellow Llyod Irvin student Kenneth Brown, who medaled at Ultra Heavyweight.
At Brown Belt, Gracie Barra's Luke Cosetllo won double gold. As a team Gracie Barra had great success up and down the event and took home the overall team award. Checkmat BJJ won the Female team award, and Gracie Barra took silver in Novice, Juvenile and Senior/Master age groups.
So that is the recap, I'll leave you with Julio Cezar Junior's triangle victory to win the Blue Belt Middleweight finals. It is a pretty tricky little entry and suggests we will be hearing his name again.
(IBJJF European Championship 2012: Adult Blue Belt Middleweight Final via bjjstylemagazine)