Guilherme Mendes and Rafael Mendes rest before their bouts. Photo taken by Stuart Cooper.
To win the world championships in Brazilian jiu jitsu is exactly the same process as the one Tom Wolfe laid out for
astronauts and test pilots in his 1979 book, The Right Stuff:
A career in flying was like climbing one of those ancient Babylonian pyramids made up of a dizzy progression of steps and ledges, a ziggurat, a pyramid extraordinarily high and steep; and the idea was to prove at every foot of the way up that pyramid that you were one of the elected and anointed ones who had the right stuff and could move higher and higher and even - ultimately, God willing, one day - that you might be able to join that special few at the very top, that elite who had the capacity to bring tears to men's eyes, the very Brotherhood of the Right Stuff itself.
For the 2012 Mundials, Saturday was the day for climbing partway up the submission grappling ziggurat. Sunday will see who among the men and women that have battled through has the strength, the skill, the tenacity and the luck to make it all the way to the top as a World champion. Many of those that won through Saturday without loss have been champions before, but new faces and old contenders are always hungry to snatch their chances.
However, what Wolfe misses in the book is very much apparent in BJJ: this is a team effort. Nobody can do this type of ascent to the pinnacle of athletic success alone in today's world. The collective wills of entire teams and families are driving, supporting and consoling these athletes at various stages on the ziggurat.
Below the jump, the full list of quarterfinals for the nine men's black belt divisions, the finals for the six women's divisions and the finals for the men's openweight and women's openweight divisions, as provided by Kid Peligro of ADCombat.com. Also provided is the updated results for the Absolute divisions for every belt below black (ending before white) with a look at which division the medalist came from.
The entire Sunday battlefest can be viewed streaming live on online.budovideos.com for $9.95.
The following is the quarterfinals set for the men's black belt divisions. Each competitor has already gone through two or even three matches to get to this point.
Roosterweight (57 kg, 126 lbs)
Milton Carlos vs. Rafael "Barata" Freitas
Bruno Malfacine vs. Joao Carlos Hiroshi
Felipe Costa vs. Koji Shibamoto
Caio Terra vs. Brandon Mullins
Notes: Caio and Bruno are on a collision course once more. One of the others could play spoiler, but given how much better Caio and Bruno have looked than their competition, it'd be an upset. But... Barata, the 2011 Pan champion, could work some magic and so could Felipe Costa, the 2003 world champion and multiple time medalist.
Light Featherweight (64 kg, 141 lbs)
Ary Farias vs. Carlos "Esquisito" Holanda
Laercio Fernandes vs. Samuel Braga
Gabriel Wilcox vs. Pablo Santos
Guilherme "Gui" Mendes vs. Henrique Costa
Notes: Gui actually submitted an opponent with a brabo so fast that the tap surprised everyone. Laercio Fernandes, Holanda or Samuel Braga are the best threats to dethrone Gui, but Ary isn't going to roll over for Holanda.
Featherweight (70 kg, 154 lbs)
Rafael Mendes vs. Takayuki Koyama
Osvaldo Augusto vs. Leonardo Saggloro
Rubens "Cobrinha" Charles vs. Eduardo da Silva
Marcelino Freitas vs. Mario Reis
Notes: Rafael looks absolutely dominant. Cobrinha is probably headed towards yet another showdown with him, but I don't know if this ends up any different than the 2011 Pans, where Cobrinha got submitted with a quick armbar.
Lightweight (76 kg, 168 lbs)
Renan Borges vs. Lucas Lepri
Vinicius Marinho vs. Phillipe Della Monica
Rodrigo Caporal vs. Leandro Lo
JT Torres vs. Roberto Satoshi
Notes: This division is flat out stacked. This is like the BJJ equivalent of UFC 144 in Japan. Not the biggest guys height or mass-wise, but they are going to entertain and they are supremely skilled. Leandro Lo or Satoshi are the names most people will pick to win, but anyone could get this. Flip a coin or tune in.
Mediumweight (82 kg, 181 lbs)
Lucas Leite vs. Daniel Garcia
Otavio Souza vs. Kron Gracie
Claudio Calasans vs. Alan "Finfou" Nascimento
Victor Estima vs. Diego Borges
Notes: Calasans and Victor looked incredible in their matches. Victor was snapping up foot locks like crazy and Calasans finished Jake McKenzie with a wristlock from guard. Kron might be out, as he won a points victory, yet got kneebarred to the point of a possible injury. If Souza moves on thusly, he'll be more rested than his opponents and probably the mats tilt his way from then on.
Medium-Heavyweight (88 kg, 194 lbs)
Ian McPherson vs. Rodrigo Pinheiro
Diogo Araujo vs. Eduardo "Portugues" Santoro
Romulo Barral vs. Diego Herzog
Rafael Lovato Jr vs. Dimitrius Souza
Notes: This division has at least three stone cold killers in it. Rafael Lovato Jr. finished his two opponents in less than five minutes combined. Omoplata sweep to mount and then a finish from there. Dominant. Romulo Barral made Marcos Souza look shellshocked. Dominant. Ian McPherson finished all of his opponents by lightning quick footlock. Dominant. I did not see Araujo, Souza, Herzog, Pinheiro or Santoro compete, but undoubtedly, they are good - but perhaps not dominant. Of the three killers, McPherson has the best story - his father is sick and he took time off to deal with that, but decided to do this tourney to show he's still on the scene.
Heavyweight (94 kg, 207 lbs)
Yuri Simoes vs. Xande Ribeiro
Roberto "Tussa" Alencar vs. Ricardo Henrique
Fabiano De Souza vs. Rodolfo Vieira
Paulo Jardim vs. Alexandro Ceconi
Notes: I missed most of this bracket while watching the matches of the other divisions. Rodolfo bounced back from his loss to Buchecha in the Absolute and got quick finishes. Ceconi looks good and Tussa too. Xande lost in the semis of the Absolute and has to be raring to go here. Picking Rodolfo and Xande for a mega-final.
Super-Heavyweight (100 kg, 221 lbs)
Bernardo Faria vs. Andre Simoes
"Cara de Sapato" vs. Andre Alberto Campos
Leo Nogueira vs. Paulo Vitor Martins
Felipe Menezes vs. Gustavo Pires
Notes: Again, I missed most of this bracket. However, Leo Nogueira is on fire - reaching the Absolute finals against Buchecha and Bernardo Faria is always dangerous.
Ultra-Heavyweight (100+ kg, 221+ lbs)
Igor Silva vs. Marcus "Buchecha" Almeida
Marcio "Pe de Pano" Cruz vs. Antonio Peinado
Carlos Eduardo Farias vs. Ricardo Evangelista
Rodrigo "Comprido" Medeiros vs. Alexander Trans
Notes: There are three matches in this division that could be finals matches by themselves. Trans is the young gun coming up against the old dog in Comprido. Buchecha and Igor Silva have grappled before down in Brazil, with Buchecha winning with a quick toe hold. Pe de Pano is always dangerous and Peinado is one of Alliance's rising starts under Fabio Gurgel in Sao Paolo. Not sure how this one plays out if you simulate it 10 times, but we'll probably see Peinado outwork Pe de Pano, Buchecha win and Trans show Comprido the door. I don't know who CEF or Evangelista are or their games, so am abstaining there.
Super-featherweight (53.5 kg, 118 lbs):
Letícia Ribeiro vs. Miriam Cerqueira
Notes: I unfortunately missed these, as they were earlier in the day. Another final for Leticia, probably another gold too.
Featherweight (58.5 kg, 129 lbs):
Marina Soares vs. Michelle Nicolini
Notes: Nicolini all the way!
Lightweight (64 kg, 141 lbs):
Bia Mesquita vs. Luiza Monteiro
Notes: Picking Luiza, the Checkmat product, to win here. Bia is awesome, but Luiza won an Absolute recently and Bia "only" came in second at the Brazilian Nationals. Basically, this is a pick-em and I'm flipping a coin.
Mediumweight (69 kg, 152 lbs):
Vanessa Oliveira vs. Luanna Alzuguir
Notes: Another good match, but Luanna should win readily.
Medium-Heavyweight (74 kg, 163 lbs):
Penny Thomas vs. Fernanda Mazelli
Notes: A very good match-up that depends on who's in better condition come match time. I can't pick.
Heavyweight (74+ kg, 163+ lbs):
Gabrielle Garcia vs. Tammy Grieco
Notes: No offense to Tammy, but she doesn't train like Gabi does. Gabi should win this handily.
Women's Absolute Finals: Gabrielle Garcia vs. Luisa Monteiro
Men's Absolute Finals: Leo Nogueira vs. Marcus "Buchecha" Almeida
Notes: We will probably see another double gold from Gabi and the further affirmation of her absolute dominance in women's submission grappling. At this point, the most credible opponents for her might be in women's heavyweight judo. Buchecha and Leo should give us a good match. The crowd favorite is going to be Buchecha, but I suspect that Leo can pull the minor upset and win the gold.
Men's Blue Belt Open Class
FIRST Pedro Lucas Aguiar Araújo - Gracie Barra (heavyweight gold winner)
SECOND Ali Seena E. A. Munfaradi - Alliance (lightweight gold winner)
THIRD Paulo Henrique Simeão da Silva - Nova União (ultraheavyweight gold winner)
THIRD Jared Lynn Dopp - Ribeiro Jiu-Jitsu (superheavyweight gold winner)
Women's Blue Belt Open Class
FIRST Monique Medeiros Elias - Alliance (lightweight gold winner)
SECOND Julia Forrester - Alliance (heavyweight gold winner)
THIRD Erica Plummer - Lotus Club Jiu-Jitsu (lightweight bronze winner)
THIRD Ana Carolina Vieira Srour - GF Team (middleweight gold winner)
Men's Purple Belt Open Class
FIRST Keenan Cornelius - Team Lloyd Irvin (middleweight gold winner)
SECOND Paolo Miyao - PSLPB Cicero Costha (light featherweight gold winner)
THIRD Bruno Tomasetti - Aeterna Jiu Jitsu (super heavyweight silver winner)
THIRD Timothy-Michael Spriggs - Team Lloyd Irvin (heavyweight bronze winner)
Women's Purple Belt Open Class
FIRST Janni Larsson - CheckMat (middleweight gold winner)
SECOND Kristina Barlaan - Nova União (featherweight bronze winner)
THIRD Alison Tremblay - Brazilian Top Team (medium heavyweight gold winner)
THIRD Jena Bishop - Gracie Humaita USA (lightweight silver winner)
Men's Brown Belt Open Class
FIRST João Gabriel de Oliveira e S. Rocha - Soul Fighters BJJ (super heavyweight gold winner)
SECOND Felipe Carsalade Araujo Pena - Gracie Barra (medium heavyweight gold winner)
THIRD De'Alonzio Jerome Jackson - Team Lloyd Irvin (middleweight gold winner)
THIRD Herico Hesley de Albuquerque Pinto - Nova União (heavyweight winner)
Women's Brown Belt Open Class
FIRST Mackenzie Dern - Gracie Humaita (featherweight gold winner)
SECOND Ana Carolina Merlo Vidal Lebre - Gracie Humaita (lightweight gold winner)
THIRD Charlene Marie Coats - Raul Castillo BJJ (middleweight gold winner)
THIRD Rachel Leigh Demara - Team Lloyd Irvin (middleweight silver winner)