This weekend in Long Beach, California the very best in the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competition world will be competing for the coveted title of World Champion. The black belt divisions take place over Saturday and Sunday and you can purchase a stream of the event here with the Budovideos multi-mat technology so you don't miss a single match.
Maybe you are a grappler but don't follow every single event, but you like to tune in for the Worlds. Or maybe you are an MMA fan who enjoys competitive grappling now and then and are thinking about ordering this event, but wouldn't know what to watch for. Well here is your quick rundown of what to watch out for at this year's worlds.
Atos Looking for a Team Championship
Back when Atos was founded in 2008 by Andre Galvao and Ramon Lemos, it was a small group of hyper-talented athletes throwing stones at the established powerhouses of Alliance and Gracie Barra. The core of Atos remains the same as those early days - Galvao, Gustavo Campos, and the Mendes Brothers - but the team has grown by leaps and bounds.
Earlier this year Atos won the Pan Ams team award and now heading into Worlds they seem primed to compete for another with over a hundred competitors flying their flag. Atos has always punched way above their weight in terms of team standings because of their talent and innovative training methods.
It has yet to be seen if Atos is here to stay or if it will break apart into separate schools, but for now it is a highly competitive team approaching their peak.
Team ATOS Jiu-Jitsu Drills & Secrets to Success || BJJ Hacks TV Episode 2.1 (via BJJ Hacks TV)
There is a huge number of highly talented grapplers competing this weekend, many of them with amazing resumes. But one to take note of is Braulio Estima. He's a three-time world champion, three-time ADCC medalist, and in 2009 Estima pulled off the BJJ grand slam winning the Worlds, European Open, the Pans, and ADCCs, solidifying himself as one of the greatest grapplers alive. Estima sat out for a few years attempting to get an MMA career off the ground, but after several fights fell through he has returned to grappling full time.
Last year Estima returned to the World Championships and made the finals, bowing out to teammate Romulo Barral for the silver. During that competition he pulled off a kneebar so slick it blew the minds of spectators right in front of their faces. Estima is one of the best in the game with wins over the likes of Andre Galvao and Jacare Souza, and it is very likely we will see him on top of his game.
Braulio Estima Highlight (via Bigbadwolfmedia)
Very Strong Women's Divisions
The women's divisions remain small, but they are not lacking in talent. While the ladies get very little attention or spotlight, their grappling excellence is something to watch. Leticia Ribeiro, the head of the dominant Gracie Humaita team, will be competing at Light Featherweight, and her teammates Mackenzie Dern and Beatriiz Mesquita will be there as well at Featherweight and Lightweight respectively. Michelle Nicolini of Checkmat will be at Featherweight, Sophia Drysdale at Middleweight, and Hannette Stack at Medium Heavyweight.
Also Gabi Garcia will be making her return to competition, her first since her positive drug test for fertility drugs stripped her of her titles from last year's worlds.
Massive Middleweight Division
The fields for some of the divisions this year are just huge. Some blue belt divisions has over a hundred competitors registered. The largest black belt division this year is Middleweight with 66 athletes. And there is certainly quality to go with this quantity. Jiu Jitsu Mr. Everything Leandro Lo is in the division, as is Clark Gracie, Marcelo Mafra, Victor Estima, Leonardo Iturradle, and Kit Dale. The winner of this division could need to win seven matches over the course of two days, so the winner will most certainly have his cardio on point.
Growing American Presence
The United States is sending their strongest field of competitors to date to the Worlds, and this time it could very well result in multiple medals. Leading the American contingent is Rafael Lovato Jr, the most accomplished American BJJ grappler in the sport. He is the teacher of James Puopolo and Justin Rader, both highly talented and young grapplers. Sean Roberts of Checkmat and Metamoris 3 fame will also be there. And they will be joined a by a crop of new American talent, including Gracie Barra's AJ Agazarm, Checkamat's Tanner Rice, Alliance's Gianni Grippo, and of course, Keenan Cornelius.
The Brazilians, not to be out done, have their own young talent there, including the Miyao brothers and Jackson Sousa. It could be the beginnings of an excellent national national rivalry within the competition BJJ scene.