The score was 2-2 with one advantage each and time was ticking down. The crowd around the nearly empty mats was entirely focused on Beneil Dariush and De'Alonzio (DJ) Jackson, as they grappled for the brown belt middleweight championship. First, Beneil worked an omoplata sweep to get two points and an advantage, then DJ swept back from the half guard and struggled to pass. This match was destined to go down to the wire and perhaps to a referee's decision. DJ got points for a pass very late into the match and was up 4-2.
The crowd chanted the countdown as time was running out. 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1! When the 1 sounded in the air, Beneil stopped grappling. He stood up and began to compose himself.
What he didn't know is that the crowd chanting was a congregation of Team Lloyd Irvin grapplers and supporters there to coach his opponent, DJ Jackson. There was actually ten more seconds left on the clock. DJ had nothing to do with the false countdown, but readily took advantage of it with a takedown and a pass into side control. Bam! Two points for the takedown and three points for the pass into side control on an unresisting and confused Beneil.
That sneaky trick allowed DJ to seize his first gold medal in his first try at brown belt in a major tournament. In future editions of the Mundials, there may be rules or sanctions against teams for pulling underhanded tactics like this, but for now, that gold medal is Jackson's to keep.
After the jump, more results and thoughts on the 2012 Mundials, which continue today for the black belts (and some brown belts) at 12 pm EST. The tournament can be viewed in mult-mat format both today and tomorrow by buying a clear and crisp stream with live commentary for $19.95 on the famous BudoVideos.com.
The results thus far can be seen here on the IBJJF website.
As expected, Alliance is in the lead for team points and many of their athletes have done very well. Gracie Barra, Atos or Checkmat are second, third or fourth in some order (the combined points for each team category are not yet out).
In the purple belt division, Keenan Cornelius, the Team Lloyd Irvin grappler, won his division handily. He submitted at least four opponents in six fights and looked on a completely different level than his peers in the middleweight division. A promotion to brown belt is undoubtedly in his near future.
Cristiane Santos wrestled her way through two matches to win the purple belt heavyweight championship for the second year in a row. She represented Atos, which had a bad day, despite several grapplers placing highly in the purple and brown belt divisions, as several controversial referee calls went against them.
As a result of the calls, Andre Galvao, the leader of the Atos team here in the United States, lost his sense, jumped the dividers and grabbed a referee to yell at. Galvao was ejected from the building and lost his place in today and tomorrow's brackets as a result of jumping the divider - which was a rule heavily stressed and repeated throughout the day at periodic intervals. Despite his contrition and public apologies, Galvao's ban stays in effect and his students and teammates will undoubtedly grapple with further determination.
I am proud to say that my friend and the very first person I ever rolled BJJ with, Matthew Maldonado is co-champion at brown belt light featherweight, as he closed out the bracket with Thomas Lisboa, a fellow Alliance teammate. Good work, Mongoose.
The highly touted pair of lightweight brown belt Gracie Barra students, AJ Agazarm and Stephen Martin, were defeated by two Alliance teammates, Juan Caio Kamezawa da Silva and Tanner Rice. Agazarm looked very much like a force at times, but could not stay out of submission danger for long in any of his matches and once he hit the semi-finals, an omoplata and wristlock attempt kept him from scoring enough points to come back.
At featherweight brown belt, Gianni Grippo, the Renzo Gracie product, lost a very close match in the finals to Victor Genovesi, the son of Alliance co-founder Alexander Paiva. This is not quite an upset,but it does derail Grippo's streak of two consecutive world championships in the weight at blue and purple belt.
Congratulations are in order to Mr. High and the good news continues for him, as he will finally return to action in Strikeforce on July 14 against Nate Moore.
The interesting thing to observe as a spectator was that there was a very clear delineation of skills among the blue belts, purple belts and brown belts. The higher up the theoretical skill ladder we went, the smoother the action became and the impositions of individual games became more forceful. At brown belt, merely playing a berimbolo game is not enough - as it can be at purple belt. Having well above average competence in every phase of the game is necessary and I theorize that at the competition level, the competence metamorphosizes into individual areas of extraordinary expertise.
Boring matches were spotted here and there - however, very few of them took place in the 50/50 position. More commonly, dueling berimbolo-game playing competitors were motionless for some time and did not shift to other tactics for long stretches. However, several athletes highlighted above kept the action flowing and it was often the person initiating the attacks and constantly dragging matches to their preferred, higher pace that won.
With Galvao out, the divisional favorites and the complexion of the Absolute change. Tune in today at BudoVideos and see how the black belts deal with their weight class peers and compete in the no-limit category. This has been a very fun 2012 edition of the Mundials and promises to bring yet more action to us.
EDIT: The play by play I was working from - as the BudoVideos feed went offline at a crucial moment - failed to note that DJ got two points late into the match and was actually up 4-2 when the false countdown occurred. My apologies to Jackson, his team and to Deb Blythe for giving us the correct action.
So there's no confusion when the Lloyd Irvin countdown began DJ Jackson was up 4-2 & there were only a few secs left in the match!