Photo of the 2012 Pan Ams venue via Bruno Malfacine's Twitter.
This weekend Irvine, California will play host to the biggest Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competition in history. The Pan Ams are one of the three biggest competitions hosted by the International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation (IBJJF) and always attracts a good number of competitors. This year, the field is huge.
The Pan Ams will be taking place over four days starting today and ending Sunday. Budovideos will be streaming every single match of this Pan Ams live on their website with single day passes and package deals for several days.
For MMA fans, Strikeforce welterweight Tarec Saffiedine will be competing on Friday morning at men's Medium Heavy purple belt. The black belts will be taking the mats on Sunday. A quick blast through the black belt divisions follow:
One of BJJ's biggest names, Caio Terra will be competing at Rooster weight. Terra is a technical wizard, true innovator and steadfast opponent to PEDs. He famously spoke out against the use of steroids at last year's Pan Ams and called for testing after winning his weight-class last year. Terra is a clear cut favorite to win his weight and is a must-watch anytime he is on the mat.
More after the jump.
World Champion brothers Rafael and Guilherme Mendes will be be representing Atos at Feather and Light Featherweight. Both are fantastically athletic grapplers who make excellent use of the 50/50 guard as a sweeping weapon, yet have opened up their game in recent competitions to submit most of their competitors. Rafael's bracket includes fellow Atos Featherweights David Lemes and Michael Fowler (who recently switched affiliation with amicability all round), so there is a chance we could see an all Atos final. But the presences of Rubens "Cobrinha" Charles cannot be discounted and a Rafa vs Cobrinha final would be a continuation of the fantastic rivalry that has begun to slide inexorably towards Rafa. Historically, Cobrinha holds the advantage, but in recent matches on the biggest stages of grappling, Rafael has held an advantage.
The Lightweight division will feature one of the art's rising young stars, American born Zak Maxwell. A product of the powerhouse Gracie Humaita and son of a pioneering American black belt, Maxwell has been making big impressions in the last year. Recently, he outpointed Kron Gracie at the 2012 World Abu Dhabi Pro Qualifiers in a minor upset.
Middleweight this year is absolutely stacked, even with the withdrawal of reigning ADCC Absolute champion Andre Galvao due to injury. Gracie Barra's Victor Estima will be in attendance, as will Clark Gracie along with Marcos de Souza of Atos. Kron Gracie has also moved up in weight to compete at Middleweight - some think to avoid a rematch with Zak Maxwell or the other beasts in that division. Either way, Kron is a young star still searching for his first big break and bouncing between weight classes might allow him to get over the hump and claim his first major tournament win at black belt in a while.
Medium-Heavy will feature two Gracie Barra stand outs Karyon Gracie and Romulo Barral have entered their names in the lists. Oliver Geddes, a Roger Gracie black belt and frequent Sherdog forums participant, is also in the division.
The woman's side of things is pretty bare, but world champions Gabi Garcia and Hannette Stack will both be taking part in single matches and could possibly meet in an Absolutes rematch.
This Pan Ams 2012 tournament is a lock to be a fantastic weekend of grappling. Be sure to check back here at Bloody Elbow for continuing coverage.