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ADCC 2015 Profiles: Braulio Estima

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T.P. Grant profiles the biggest names going to ADCCs this year starting with former Champion Braulio Estima.

This August, the most prestigious no gi submission grappling tournament will take place: the Abu Dhabi Combat Club (ADCC) Submission Wrestling World Championships. Known in shorthand as the "ADCCs," it is a professional grappling tournament held every two years that attracts the top grappling talent from all across the world. The rule set is extremely open in terms of submissions and positions allowed; the scoring system designed to increase aggressive takedowns and an attacking style on the ground. The event features a tournament and then one-off super fights between major ADCC champions.

Some of the athletes, specifically former ADCC champions, other major grappling champions, and well known MMA fighters, are invited to come compete at the ADCCs, while others go through regional qualifiers. This series will seek to profile some of the major players at the 2015 ADCCs. And we'll kick things off with the first ADCC Superfight Champion to enter back into the lists.

Braulio Estima

Who is this guy?
Braulio Estima is one of the most accomplished Jiu Jitsu competitors, the elder brother of another elite competitor, and a former MMA fighter. Estima is the owner of one of the impressive one year runs in the short history of competitive submission grappling when he won the Worlds, European Open, and ADCCs in 2009.

Braulio started training Judo at age nine, but stopped when his coach died in a traffic accident. Braulio returned to the mats after six years to begin training Jiu Jitsu under Charles dos Anjos. After winning five straight junior titles Braulio was promoted to blue belt and into adult competitions. In 1999 Estima won the Pan Ams as a blue belt and was promoted on the medal stand to purple belt. After winning the Pan Ams again in 2001 and 2002, Estima traveled to England to teach at Mauricao Gomes' academy. He enjoyed England so much that he remains there to this day.

He was promoted to black belt in 2004 and went on to win four world championships. In 2009 Braulio started off the competition season with a double gold performance, winning his weight class and the Absolute division, at the European Championships. He then took gold at the world championships. In the ADCCs that year Braulio won double gold, defeating Rafael Lovato Jr., Andre Galvao, Marcelo Garcia, Vinny Magalhaes, and Xande Ribeiro, making it one of the single most impressive competition runs in Jiu Jitsu.

After his amazing run in 2009, Braulio attempted to cross over into Mixed Martial Arts and was set to take on Rick Hawn with the Shine Fights promotion in the spring of 2010. The card and later entire promotion fell apart, and Braulio's only MMA fight took place with Titan Fighting Championships in 2012. Braulio was also supposed to face Nick Diaz in a grappling Super Match but Diaz pulled out of the match at the last second. In 2011 Braulio defeated Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza in an ADCC supermatch. He also had a match in Metamoris 2, where he debuted his "Galaxy Guard" kicking off the current obsession with lapel guards in MMA. Braulio has also helped train many MMA fighters, including Georges St. Pierre, Rashad Evans and Eddie Alvarez.

Braulio is currently serving a two year IBJJF suspension after failing a test for Methylhexaneamine, a stimulant, at the 2014 Worlds. Braulio received the maximum penalty because he was unable to provide the source of the stimulant, he speculated it was an energy drink he took after his semi-final match.

What is his game like?

Braulio is first and foremost a guard player. Braulio's stand up game is largely based around pulling opponents into his incredibly aggressive guard. Estima's guard game has evolved quite a bit over the years and not just stayed on the cutting edge but has really come to defined it. Estima's open guard is one of the best in the history of jiu jitsu, in or out of the gi. He is constantly creating space with his legs playing variations of spider guard, knee shield, reverse de la riva and use of inversions attacking sweeps and his famous triangles.

An evolving bit of Braulio's game is his use of leg locks. They are not a new aspect to his game, his use of them is increasingly interesting as he treats leglock attacks as a transitional position between top and bottom of the guard position, and as a complement to his guard passing and retention games, giving him one of the most diverse attacks in all of grappling. And don't sleep on Braulio's top game, he is a dynamic guard passer and from dominant position he is exceedingly dangerous.

How is he likely to do?
Braulio is a threat to take double gold in any grappling tournament he enters. His weight class is crowded with talent: Lucas Leite, Claudio Calasans, Keenan Cornelius, Rafael Lovato Jr, and long time friend and teammate Romulo Barral all are expected to be in his bracket. That said it would be surprising if Braulio didn't medal and go on to be a serious player in the Absolutes.

Stay tuned for more ADCC profiles as August 28th creeps closer.